God, who takes away the sins of the world! This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who ranks before me, because he was before me.’ I myself did not know him, but for this purpose I came baptizing with water, that he might be revealed to Israel.”
And John bore witness: “I saw the Spirit descend from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. I myself did not know him, but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God.”
It is hard for me to come to this post today. After publishing last night’s thoughts on coldness in a Mama’s heart (and the One who’s love far surpasses our own), I walked home to an onslaught of…I don’t know. Hard things.
Two kiddos whom I won’t name but who are, respectively, three feet and two feet tall (and are under the age of three), did one of those weird things where, having gone to bed an hour early, suddenly awakened as if having had a wonderful nap. They remained up until 2am.
I’ll spare the details. Suffice it to say it was an ugly night–even the dog woke us twice and the four year old did, too–and it has been an ugly day so far today. It’s one of those days where I’m limping along and doing my best and apologizing a lot and staring too much at a screen. It’s one of those days where I’m immensely grateful for friends who speak into my life, who pray over me, and who listen without judgement. It’s one of those days where I forget about prayer, and then remember, and we pray, the kids and I, and it’s better, and then I forget…and then I remember…and on it goes.
Then I remembered it was Wednesday–the day I get to write these posts. The day I get to show up to the Word of God in a different way from the rest of the week, and listen at his feet. And I groaned. Not today, Lord, please, not today.
But I did that last week. Last week I abdicated. Last Wednesday I could hardly open my eyes all day long, as if exhaustion had come out of nowhere. It was like, oh, I don’t know. A spiritual attack? I don’t know how to explain to you how difficult it often is to write these posts. At the beginning of my commitment I was totally stoked. But soon it all began to feel like a burden. I began to dread writing even though if could manage to push through and publish, I would inevitably feel happy and grateful. It was a roller coaster of emotion every Wednesday, which was not fun. Eventually I caught on to the pattern and set about to praying, asking honestly, “Lord, am I pushing against the goads? Should I stop trying? I love writing this way so much but these feelings of dread come out of nowhere, and I am so discouraged.”
“Wonder of wonders, miracle of miracles!” After the prayer, my feelings completely shifted from dread to giddiness. I would awaken on Wednesday mornings with sheer joy at the thought of digging in. And when that happened? When dread shifted to anticipation? I began to get sick. Or if not sick, then I’d be so tired it was as if I’d been drugged. Or the kids would whine all day long. Or it generally would just prove to be one of those days where everything that can go wrong, does. The resistance toward writing has become extremely physical.
I’m just saying this aloud. If you’re still reading you must love me.
So here I am, just as I am. Coming to the Word of God with a bit of a chip on my shoulder and listening to John say, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the World! He ranks above me, he was before me, he baptizes with the Holy Spirit, he is the Son of God!”
And I think, this is it, this is the way John the Writer finally presents Jesus. After 28 verses of eloquent introduction, John’s finally ready for Jesus to walk out on the scene. He pulls back the curtain with a flourish and offers one dramatic shout: “BEHOLD!”
Bumped and bruised and weak and sinful; tired and frustrated and uncertain about what comes next; with all of me, in this moment, in the middle of this horrible day, I do.
I’d rather be the one shouting the ‘behold.’ I’d rather be the one baptizing to prepare for when he comes. I’d rather be the one who feels clean and holy. But today I’m not. Today I don’t.
Or maybe I am, and I do. Maybe even John had hard days, days where the people drove him crazy, where the flies made his skin crawl, where the water rotted his feet. Maybe the heat burned and the wind chaffed and the locust were difficult to eat. And then one day Jesus walks on the scene, and he can hardly believe it. “Look,” he says. “This is he!”
And then maybe, almost to himself in disbelief, he whispers, “this is he. This is he of whom I’ve been speaking. This is he for whom I’ve been living. THIS is he for whom I’ve been waiting. I didn’t even know how to recognize him, but God promised to show me, and he has. He has.”
And then turning to the crowd, his shock turning to elation, perhaps he shouted: “I have seen! And I bear witness! THIS IS THE SON OF GOD!”