Often, when we give our lives to God in a sincere way, the first thing he hits us with is the pocket book. God often tests us through short bouts of poverty to train us to have compassion for those with less. The second thing that God often does, is he alerts us to all of the injustice and suffering in the world so that we can submit to him as vessels to engage that suffering and injustice with love. Unfortunately, this is a dangerous time, because you can become so involved in fighting for justice, equity, and kindness that a frustration sets which can cause you to begin to hate the world that you initially wanted to save. When this happens, I think back to a message that God gave me early in my ministry. The intuition through he spoke to me stated, “You hate what is, because you love what should be. Love what is and it will be as it should be.” This does not entail blinding our eyes to the things that are wrong in our society, but it does, especially on the individual level compel us to engage those wrongs with the only thing that works, love. It often entails celebrating the beauty of the people and societies around us, such that we have a vision of how things can be, pulling inspiration and joy from the past, enjoying love in the moment, and reaching forth with hope to the dreams that God would have us dream for a better tomorrow, both individually and collectively.
In times of transition, as we walk a tightrope of hopelessness, the shadow comes to claim us.
The shadow descends, reminding us that there is no way out of the endless darkness.
The shadow screams at the top of its lungs, “there is no hope my child.
Your destiny is to wander in dark places with quenchless thirst for a new beginning.”
The shadow surreptitiously insinuates itself into every aspect of our perception.
The shadow ensures that when trials come they descend like an avalanche,
And we feel like the darkness is infinite and that all things begin and end in suffering.
But all shadows need light to accent their darkness.
There can be no shadow without light.
And while a shadow is delimited by shape and form, light is endless and eternal.
There can be no shadow without light, and the light from which the shadow garners strength is endless and eternal.
I do not express this through emotion or inspiration, as my emotions are buried beneath the debris of depression’s languid odor.
All I sense and smell, all I feel or see is darkness enveloping me in the deception of the shadow.
But there is a knowledge of light that cannot be vanquished.
And it is with this knowledge that I declare that all shadows must eventually succumb to the light which begets them.
And this light is wondrous and glorious.
This light is more than enough to lift me to the sky and beyond.
And so I say, even in the grips of hopelessness, that light is the truth of all things and this light has claimed me.
“Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdelene…” John 19:25
John chapter nineteen verses twenty six and twenty seven is the famous pericope in which Jesus tells his disciple John that his mother Mary is now John’s mother and he tells his mother that his disciple John is now her son. Because of the male dominated tone of scripture and the way in which males have dominated the narrative surrounding Jesus for centuries this pericope has often been interpreted as a moment wherein Jesus passes on his responsibility for his mother to John. What is unfortunately and often missed in this pericope is the idea that Jesus was giving his mother Mary who had obviously been an incredible ally to him later on in his ministry charge of John. We often only think of John having the authority in this pericope as Mary’s caretaker. But I posit that this pericope is just as much about Mary looking after John as it is John looking out for Mary. Similarly, our focus on this pericope belies something monumental in the verse that precedes it. In John chapter nineteen verse twenty five, the gospel writer speaks of Jesus’ mother Mary, her sister Mary, and Mary Magdeline as standing near the cross. I posit that this incredibly short mention of the “three Marys” is of colossal importance given the cosmology in which Jesus operated.
Here in this verse we see that when all of Jesus’ disciples besides John had either denied or abandoned him, these three women of low stature had the courage to stand and endure the shame, misery, and humiliation of the cross right along with him. This fact is prodigious at face value because it unearths the courage that these women had and their strength to “stand with Jesus,” a strength that eluded all of Jesus’ followers writ large and all of his most intimate allies save one. But when one applies the light of Holy Spirit inspired revelation to this text, something even more amazing reveals itself.
James 4:2 states among other things that “ye have not because ye ask not.” I believe that this is a statement about how God works in the world. Ephesians 2:8 states, “For it is by grace that ye are saved, through faith and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.” This implies that it is through our faith that grace is activated as a tangible manifestation in our world. God works through the prayers, love, and compassion of human vessels. Without our love and prayers, God usually does not move. There are times when God intercedes without the mechanism of our faith and prayers, but most times it is in the love that we have for each other that God lives, breathes, and moves on the earth. God exists and is omnipotent all by himself, but it is my belief that it when it comes to moving on the earth God works through us in most cases.
Bearing in mind that it is through our faith that God works, when we revisit the near presence of the three Marys to Jesus with this understanding something incredible comes to the light of our consciousness. Though Jesus came from Divinity and went back to Divinity, everything that he did on the earth, was a function of the faith of those around him. When there was no faith, Jesus could not do many miracles. Mark 6:5 clearly stipulates that “He could not do any miracles there, except lay hands on a few sick people and heal them.” This verse is in reference to Jesus’ inability to do many miracles when the people had no faith. This alludes to the interdependence that Jesus had with the people who he blessed. Jesus was interdependently operating with the Jewish people as he blessed them. This notion dismisses the Jews as a “passive” and “pathetic” people who Jesus came to bless and save, and reveals them as strong, assertive, and active participants in the miraculous love of God.
More importantly this idea that Jesus operated interdependently with the Jewish people that he blessed, begs the question, “If Jesus needed another human being’s faith to work his miraculous power, then whose faith enabled him to perform his greatest miracle, ostensibly his resurrection from the dead?” Herein, is the importance of the three Marys to the entire gospel narrative and the fate of humanity revealed. It is my supposition that given that his disciples, save John, were cowering in fear and that no one defended Jesus during his prosecution and subsequent crucifixion, it was in fact the love, power, and soundness of mind of these three women that enabled Jesus to give the world “the sign of Jonah” and consequently redeem all things. It is my supposition that without the faith and courage of the three Marys that there would have been no resurrection and no ensuing redemption. When we take off the blinders of chauvinism and enter into the perception of the Kingdom, we see that it was in fact to three women of low stature that we owe a supreme debt of gratitude.
This reality encourages us to never stop fighting, never stop praying, and never stop believe that God surely uses the “low things” of this culture to bring about massive blessing of cosmic consequence. This reality also enables us to acknowledge that it was the love of the most persecuted people of Jesus’ day, namely women, to which we owe the grandeur of salvation. In light of this I am moved to pray, “Mary, Mary, and Mary you were three incredible women, no doubt. But you were also three of the most important prayer warriors in history. Thank you for your love, commitment, power, and perseverance. Please enable all of us to follow your example and to never stop fighting and never stop striving for the beauty that is immanent to the faithful.”
Some time ago, there was a man who walked the earth. He was of divine origin, a man of royal lineage. But he was born into a life of poverty, misery, and shame to save a people who had been humiliated by a great empire of darkness. And this empire used the threat of anguish on a cross to keep order in their world of silent insanity.
Some time ago, there was a man who walked the earth. He was of divine origin, a man of royal lineage. But he was born into a life of poverty, misery, and shame to save a people who had been exploited for most of their history. He came into a world where men used the threat of anguish on a cross to keep order in a land of silent insanity. This insanity was silent because the kingdom had roads, knowledge, medicine, and beautiful buildings such that it seemed as though man had come into a time of great prosperity. This insanity was silent because to look at the great capital city of this empire, one would think that man had reached a new horizon of greatness and stature. But beneath the sound of apparent splendor, there were men who were wrenched with self-loathing and women who dreaded the coming day. And so this world was insane, but the insanity was silent and the threat of anguish on a cross maintained order, such that the people would not awake to the torment around them and feel compassion.
Some time ago, there was a man who walked the earth. He was born into a life of poverty, misery, and shame but through it all he grabbed hold of his father with a fervor that none have had either before or after him.
Some time ago, there was a man who walked the earth. He was born into a life of poverty, misery, and shame but through it all he grabbed hold of his father and with all of the strength of his love he rose to set at liberty them that were bruised and bring deliverance to the captives. And this man did many great deeds for the people of his land and asked for little in return for his kindness except that people follow him and do as he had done.
Some time ago, there was a man who walked the earth. He was born of a virgin and did many great deeds among the people of his land and he brought about an earthquake of compassion such that the protectors of order became aware of him. And these protectors of order set about a momentum of silent insanity that overtook the man and thrust him upon a cross that brought him anguish and misery. And while he was on the cross, none of the people who he had helped stood for him save three devoted woman of lowly stature. And while he was on the cross, none of the people who he had fought for fought for him save three women who like most of the women of his day had muted voices and even less power.
When I was 19 years old I met a man who walked the earth some time ago. I was watching Ben Hur and witnessed his compassion through the light of his shadow falling upon and healing two women with leprosy. I saw this man’s compassion and was moved to tears of inspiration. I threw up my hands and said, “My whole life is yours” to whoever had sent this man among us. And at first, I had very little idea of what I had done. But bit by bit I began to become aware of the torment around me and to feel compassion.
When I was 19 years old, I met a man of old who is, who was, and who is to come, and I began a journey of compassion. And on this journey I made many mistakes, but always my path was guided by the fire of compassion and the sound of human unity. And I did many deeds through the man and the inspiration that he gave me. But somewhere along the way, the Lord of silent insanity who in truth is not really of this world, became aware of me and began to hunt me as he has hunted so many throughout the ages.
When I was 19 years old, I met a man full of fire and compassion and began a journey of warfare. My weapons were not of this world, but were mighty to the pulling down of strongholds and the manifestation of kindness. But somewhere along the way, the adversary became aware of me and thrust me onto a cross of anguish and misery. And many who I had helped forsook me and the darkness was overwhelming. And I began to wish for death as the sound of silent insanity tormented from me within and without. And a blindness created from the beginning of darkness began to envelope me and I forgot that I was at war.
Some time ago, I met the greatest man that has ever lived or ever will live and he filled me with his power and love. And I did many deeds and tried to walk a path of humility and honesty. But on this path, the Lord of silent insanity attacked me and relentlessly sought to destroy me. And I found a cross of pain and humiliation. And as I endure this cross, many who I thought were allies have forsaken me and my love is waxing cold. I fight with the temptation of death and I feel alone, forsaken, and forgotten. But still there is a light within me that reminds me of love, and kindness, and compassion. And I am holding tight to love with all of my being, fighting not to be overtaken by the shame and humiliation that I feel. And with this love, I declare, that my journey is not in vain. All the times that I have invited humiliation by being honest about my struggles instead of masking them with the façade of silent insanity. All of the times that I have invited bitterness by loving those who did not love me in return. All of the times that I have felt as though I am thoroughly alone, crying out in a wilderness of silent insanity. With the last bit of love that I feel for a world that has not returned my kindness I declare that my journey has not been in vain. For there is one who is with me. And he sees me on my cross, and instead of shame he beams with pride over a warrior who is fighting for his very life against the sound of silent insanity from within and without. And with his love I fight to endure until my breakthrough comes. But until then, even on my cross, I declare that it was worth it. For no matter what comes, I know that I have chosen correctly. For no matter what comes, I know that I have joined the ranks of many who this life has forsaken but who cried out for love anyway. In this moment of pain and anguish I reach to the sky and cry out, “It was worth it,” for I have fought for love and love will some day save me.