Batter my heart, three-person’d God ; for you
As yet but knock ; breathe, shine, and seek to mend ;
That I may rise, and stand, o’erthrow me, and bend
Your force, to break, blow, burn, and make me new. (John Donne)
So then let’s also run the race that is laid out in front of us, since we have such a great cloud of witnesses surrounding us. Let’s throw off any extra baggage, get rid of the sin that trips us up, and fix our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith. He endured the cross, ignoring the shame, for the sake of the joy that was laid out in front of him, and sat down at the right hand of God’s throne. (Hebrews 12:1-2; context)
This Lent, we are exploring our faith by running through the alphabet. Today, “Z” is for Zoe. I know, I know, I’m cheating again by using a Greek word like I did a few days ago. Honestly, I couldn’t think of a good English word that starts with “Z.”
“Zoe” (pronounced zo-AY) means “life.” We get the word “zoology” from it. For that matter, we get the word “zoo” from it. I remember visiting the zoo in Washington D.C. and feeling profoundly depressed as I left. The D.C. zoo is squashed into a tiny piece of the District, and the animals are squashed into tiny pieces of the zoo. The panda paddock was hardly bigger than the backyard I mowed every week when I was growing up. The elephants had no room to move. Everything was concrete and wrought iron. I couldn’t help but think what an inaccurate use of the word “zoo” I was witnessing.
You see, “Zoe” means “life,” yes, but the connotation of the Greek doesn’t stop there. The word from which we get “zoo” means expansive life, life without bounds, the kind of life that the creature is meant to live. Jesus uses this word when he answers Thomas’s question (John 14): “Lord, we don’t know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus says, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” I Am the Life. It is in Jesus’ life – his zoe – that we find the kind of life that we, as creatures of God’s own Creation, are meant to live.
As the Way, the Truth, and the Life, Jesus Christ does not give us a rulebook or a series of tasks to accomplish in order to gain that zoe for ourselves. Rather, he gives us himself, he gives us his own footsteps, he gives us his own trail that he blazed through the hardships and joys of this life.
And all he asks for in return is us.
Dear God, you sent your son to be the trailblazer of the path back to you. Help me to follow in Christ’s footsteps so that I may participate in the fullness of the life you would have for me. In Jesus Christ’s name I pray. Amen.
I leave this moment with you, God, enlivened by your word, sustained by your grace, and filled with your love.