Spring has truly sprung, people are laying out their Sunday best for worship services and filling plastic eggs with sugary treats. While all around me seems to be teeming with life, I find that my heart is teeming with darkness.
I, who have every reason to be singing praises, find myself weighted down this week. When I finally sat down to process through the funkiness percolating in my soul, I was met with a loud mob of oughts.
“You ought to be feeling warm fuzzies; after all, it is Easter. You ought to be overflowing with gratitude; you have so much for which to be thankful. You ought to be on your tip toes with anticipation for the celebration of the Resurrection. You ought to be connecting deeply with God on a highly emotional level for all He as done for you.” Ought after ought after ought.
The Lord brought to mind a C.S. Lewis in which he says that the goal of prayer is to “lay before Him what is in us, not what ought to be in us.”
After a few rounds of being pinned down by oughts, I began to tell God what was actually in my heart.
“I am more disturbed by small, first world inconveniences right now than I am by you being hung on a tree. I am struggling to be grateful even though my life is so very rich. I am fixating on tasks that must be done and running in circles rather than sitting still. I am sorry. I don’t want to be here, but this is where I am.”
This – the messy web of a heart that desperately wants to do good, to be still, to exude gratitude but cannot – this is why Christ went to the Cross. He didn’t die for the cleaned up, ought version of me; He chose an ignoble death for the is version of me. This is grace. This is the Good News that turned the world upside down.
I know this. The gospel has ripped through my attempts at self-righteousness for the past 15 years. Yet, I need to know this again. I need to know this today. This is the heart work that must be done daily for the believer.
Christ is the only person whose ought and is always perfectly aligned. He constantly thought His Father’s thoughts, felt feelings that honored His Father and did the works of His Father. He ought not have been punished, as He was the truly perfect One. Yet, He became sin on our behalf that in Him we might become the righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:21).
This ought not be. Yet it is. This is the good news that began its radical work at the site of an empty tomb.
May we rest in who He is and what He has done on our behalf. May the gospel inform and transform our is until the day when we are with Him and will finally be as we ought.