A few posts ago I mentioned Venture, the gathering of the people of our church to fast and toil in prayer for whatever purpose God designs. It has been gloriously painful. There's just something about fasting from food the whole day, feeling the hunger pangs, sipping on water or lemonade or Dr. Pepper trying to curb it (yes, when I fast I still drink Dr. Pepper...I have fasted from Dr. Pepper before...it was good...and I might do it again...emphasis on "might") but just not being enough. My soul aches as my body aches.
Now, I'm kind of a grumpy person when I don't eat food. Ask Matt or Audrey, and there's no "kind of" about it. It literally breaks me down. That means that when I walk into our sanctuary at 7 o'clock without food all day, I am raw. My spirit is raw, my emotions are raw. I am just plain vulnerable.
So last Wednesday, I had a breakdown of sorts. Opportunity to sin crept in and my flesh reacted with ferocity. Sitting in the 90's-style teal-blue chairs in the sanctuary, I broke into tears. A flood opened up. I felt the weight of my sin. The weight of self-pity and striving to live life on my terms. It was heavy. I couldn't breathe. I couldn't control the tears, they just poured forth whether I liked it or not. Little did I know that that was my reward.
I ran across this text yesterday: And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. and your Father who sees in secret will reward you. (Matthew 6:16 - 18)
Our reward may not come wrapped in the package we think it should...it may not have pink and white polka dotted paper or beautiful ribbon...it might be a little bit ugly. It might come wrapped in toilet paper. Or tears. Or heaviness. Or feeling the weight of our sin.
So I was thinking about the weight of sin. And I was thinking about Jesus. And I was thinking about the cross. The full weight of my sin, of Matt's sin, of the woman caught in adultery's sin, of the thief's sin, of Saul, the murderer's sin, of countless number of other people's sin fell on Jesus. The weight. The heaviness. The same heaviness I felt squeezing my chest tight and wringing the tears from my eyes times a billion.
But He was innocent. Completely blameless. Yet He chose it. He chose the suffering. He chose to feel the full weight of sin.
So, my heart aches, but it finds joy and solace. It is my reward...to turn my attention from my sin to the perfect work of Jesus. Feeling a godly sorrow that leads to repentance. But..."forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize (the reward) of the upward call of God in Christ."
"Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us..." Galatians 3:13
"Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God." Hebrews 12:1 - 2