So often I forget that there is more to Christianity than being made free myself. I may manage to remember that His love is deeper than the ocean. I may begin to comprehend the depth of transformation He wants to work in me. I may start to learn what it means to live slow and treasure the gift of life I have.
But is that all? Is any true friendship one-sided? Isn’t real friendship the sharing of two hearts?
I walk down the train tracks in the light of sunset and whisper it soft… “This isn’t all about me. How are You? What can I do to ease the ache of Your heart as You look at a broken world?”
Because isn’t it selfish of us to receive all the love and comfort He can give while never giving a second thought to what we might be able to do for Him? We pour out our desperate and lonely hearts to Him and He holds us and brings us through. But what about when His heart hurts from all the pain He looks down on 24/7? Are we there to love Him back and share His burdens?
I think back to that cold night. I can almost hear the whisper, His this time… “tarry ye here, and watch with me.” He didn’t ask for great feats of courage. He wanted their companionship. He wanted them to be with Him in His hour of pain.
He kneels— the agony ripping His heart. Agony so deep, He bleeds. And in His humanity He longs for the sympathy of those He loves most. He just wants to know someone understands, that someone is there to share His heart with in His moment of pain.
“The human heart longs for sympathy in suffering. This longing Christ felt to the very depths of His being. In the supreme agony of His soul He came to His disciples with a yearning to hear some words of comfort from those whom He had so often blessed and comforted, and shielded in sorrow and distress. The One who had always had words of sympathy for them… longed to know that they were praying for Him…” Desire of Ages p.
But they missed it. They were too consumed with their own physical “needs” to even know where to start at meeting His. Three times He came—longing to be understood. They slept on.
I have to wonder if I miss it too. How often do I get up and tell Him all the things I’m struggling with and never once ask what might be breaking His heart?
But maybe I only really experience the depth of communion I crave when I care about His heart more than my own. I don’t want to just be a customer who comes to Him for all the things I want. I want to be His friend. And that’s a two way thing.
“Must Jesus bear the cross alone and all the world go free?”
Perhaps true freedom is not about Him setting us free from pain and giving us a happy life. What if freedom was about picking up the other end of His cross and carrying it together and finding in sharing pain with Him a joy that is so much deeper than the supposed joy of a happy life?
“The cross of Christ is the sweetest burden that I ever bore; it is such a burden as wings are to a bird, or sails to a ship to carry me forward to my harbor.” Samuel Rutherford
So maybe I am tired. Maybe I don’t always feel I have it in me to love people the way He does. Maybe I don’t want to be asked to give and give again when my heart longs for a chance to stop and receive filling myself. But maybe the filling I crave is only found in communion of the deepest sort— sharing His suffering.
After all, we are the hands He has on earth. When His heart breaks for the pain of the world, couldn’t we lighten His load by pouring out ourselves to relieve the suffering of His children? Sure, alone we can do nothing—not even change our own hearts. But isn’t the grace that is strong enough to transform our hearts strong enough to empower us to be there for the One who left all to be there for us?
We speak so freely of serving God. But do we really realize the depth of that phrase? We have the awesome privilege of being there for Him, of bearing the cross with Him, of willingly carrying burdens on our shoulders so that He does not walk alone. And after all… this load is light, because we bear it together.
The words of Bonhoeffer— a man who truly knew what it meant to share the suffering of His Jesus— hit me between the eyes… "Christians stand by God in his hour of grieving.”
And so when I pray to go as deep with Him as is humanly possible, I don’t know what that prayer means. But He does. And I wouldn’t have it unprayed for anything.
Let me sacrifice. Let me give up my dearest treasures. Let me pour every drop of myself out, even if it be on hard ground. Let me be present to You in Your pain. Let me be there for You, the One who is always there for me.
Let me be Your friend.
I don’t want You to carry the cross alone…