It was Thursday, April 18, 2019. The night before Good Friday.
Like most Thursday nights, QHOP was hosting an Awakening service. It was a time of worship, teaching, and prayer for revival. I was sitting at a little art table with my journals and coloring books, like I usually do. As I sang, prayed, and journaled, I felt a call on my spirit to close my eyes and go to “the deep place”, the corner of my mind where I hear Jesus’ voice most clearly.
The Deep Place
In my mind’s eye, I was standing on a beach. This place was familiar to me. In the physical world, it was a cove I’d visited in Bermuda in 2011. Since then, it had become a mental and spiritual refuge for me. I would close my eyes and return to this beach to chat with Jesus whenever I wished.
The beach was surrounded by cliffs on every side. Hewn into the rock was a staircase that led to the top of the cliff where there was a beach house. That was paradise, a garden full of butterflies.
Jesus would typically come down to the beach to see me and we would chat. But this time was different. I knew he was calling me up there.
I was wearing a simple white dress. There were no shoes on my feet. I started to walk up the stairs, but the stone steps were sharp and they cut my feet. I was determined to make it to the top, but as my feet bled I found myself stumbling. Before long, I could barely walk. I crawled up the steps, one at a time, the rocks tearing into my shins.
When I was just a few steps away from the top, I sat down and looked at myself.
I was a mess. I was covered in cuts and bruises. My white dress was torn and bloody. I could hear music and singing in the garden above me as angelic creatures worshipped and celebrated. I suddenly felt self-conscious and ashamed. I couldn’t go up there. I didn’t belong in that beautiful place. I wanted to be with Jesus, to talk with him and be comforted by him, but the thought of walking into the garden looking as hideous as I did filled me with dread. I couldn’t go up. I didn’t have the strength to go back down. I sat on the steps and wept.
Back at QHOP
I opened my eyes. The dream was over. The worship continued at QHOP. Brian began to lead a prayer for revival. I sat confused. I knew what I’d seen was significant, but I couldn’t grasp the meaning at all. I took my journal and began to draw what I’d seen with rough pen-strokes.
The cliff. The staircase. A little girl in a white dress. Red marks on the dress.
As I doodled, I called out to God.
What does this mean? Why did show me this? How are you glorified by this image of your child on the steps, dirty and ashamed?
Then, as I finished my sketch, a final image hit me.
Jesus was with me, sitting on the steps.
Jesus Came to Me
I wanted to be with Jesus, but I could not go to him. My shame and guilt stopped me from entering the holy place, a place of beauty and perfection. The little girl on the steps didn’t just represent me, but all of humanity, striving to reach God but unable to enter his presence.
But Jesus didn’t leave me like that. Instead, he came to me. He left his heavenly home and came down to where I was. He joined me on the stairs and felt my pain. Even though I could not go to where he was, he came to sit with me so that I could still enjoy his presence, which is all I longed for.
It was the night before Good Friday, but as the speaker began to teach on Christ’s death and resurrection, I couldn’t focus on his words. I couldn’t meditate on Jesus’ death because I was overwhelmed by his life. The very fact that he left his home to come down so we could experience his presence was enough for me. My heart was so full of gratitude and I couldn’t take another bite.
This Easter will be different than last year and every year before that. I won’t be enjoying an Awakening service at QHOP or Easter morning worship with my church. I will be meditating on Jesus’ life, death, and life again at home with my brother. But there is still so much to be thankful for, to worship, to love.
Our God, in all his beauty and holiness, is alive. He did not leave us alone in our shame and brokenness. He came to us so we could know him and be reconciled to him. He died to take our sin and death on himself. He rose to demonstrate his authority over all things, even the grave.
Today, he lives to give us life, free from shame.
Sin has no power. Death has no power. Shame has no power. Suffering has no power.
He has come to us so we can be with him forever.