Good News for the Sifted & Condemned

I am a perfectionist. This means that I am constantly battling accusations and condemning thoughts from the worst place: myself. My own internal voice does a number on me. And Satan loves it when I get in such a stuck cycle. I do all the work for him.

I wrote this poem yesterday to express how it feels in those cycles of condemnation and accusation.

Just a little longer 

I’m stuck in a swamp of self-censure,
Mucking in a morass of deep doubt;
Attempts at escape further press me in
Even as they promise to pull me out.

Father, I need your full-on rescue.
Don’t send a messenger; I need you.
I need your arms and your face.
I need presence; platitudes won’t do. 

These long-lingering lies paralyze;
They’ve held me so long I think them true.
I need a Father’s persistent whispers.
I need powerful proximity to you.

My mind knows you are not far off,
But my heart keeps missing its cue.
My throat is hoarse from crying out.
Father, please come be my rescue. 

Until it’s time to pick you up, dear,
I’ll stay right here by your side. 
This swamp — it’s just a puddle 
Next to my love so deep and wide. 

I dove into the depths of its darkness,
And I rose, raising you on my back;
So even in the swamps of despair, 
There is nothing that you lack.

Just a little longer, my brave little girl,
You’ll see Me fully, and seeing resemble.
I’ll hold you bodily in my strong arms.
My love will still your every tremble.  

I know and have memorized Romans 8:1-2:

“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.”

My heart doesn’t always quickly get the memos my mind sends. This is the good fight of faith, the slow work of sanctification, the transformation from one degree of glory to another (2 Corin. 3: 18).

How Christ Treats those Accused

I was helped this morning by a scene from the book of Zechariah, the last book before the long silence between the Old and New Testaments.

God gave his prophet Zechariah a vision of Joshua as high priest standing in the presence of the angel of the Lord (which is Old-Testament-speak for Christ). Satan, ever the twisted impersonator of Christ, was “standing at his right to accuse him” (Zech. 3:1).

The angel of the Lord’s response to Joshua amidst an attack of accusations stirred my heart to hope and courage this morning. The Lord rebukes the accuser (Zech. 3:2). The Lord clothes the accused (Zech. 3:4-5). The Lord speaks truth over the lies (Zech. 3:4). The Lord remains close by to the accused (Zech. 3:5).

Christ, our advocate, stands right there in the midst of the attack. Even if the accusers words are true (Joshua was clothed in filthy garments), he speaks a deeper truth (he is still mine and I’ve a righteous robe for him). He speaks as One with all authority. And he stays close at hand.

We get a similar glimpse of Jesus advocating for the accused before his death. Satan, ever-the-accuser and the father of lies and half-truths, has demanded to have Peter so he might sift him like wheat; however, Christ assures Peter that he has prayed for him that his faith may not fail (John 8: 42-47; Luke 22:31-32).

Christ could speak such truths to Peter and the angel of the Lord could clothe Joshua only because of his coming death on the cross. The advocate would become the accused. He would be sifted to the point of suffocation on an instrument of shame. The undefiled one would be defiled by our sin.

Our advocate knows accusation. He knows the strength of the liar. But he also knows the power of his resurrection. He knows that his life and his love could not be held by death (Acts 2: 24).

If you feel sifted to the point of soreness, if you are sinking in the swamps of accusation, you have an advocate who is full of agape love and resurrection power. Soon and very soon, those who trust in him will be in his presence.

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