Here's another song that has moved me since, well, at least the early 90's when I first heard it...mostly for the music which is impossible not to dance to...which in itself is impressive being a "Christian" song and all. But recently, as I heard the song again on my old Mix Tape, I heard the lyrics for the first time. Not that I really had never heard them before, but they were sorta poetic garbledy-gook to me before. Suddenly it was me in that picture, my fingers, my spirit, my soul in need of restoration...
Restore My Soul-- The Choir
I call to you with one lung exploded
from breathing the dust of the earth
with my tongue eroded
from licking the crust of the earth
a tear away from reconciled
a prayer away from whole
restore my soul...
I cry to you with two eardrums blistered
from laughing at pictures of night
with my vertebrae twisted
from dancing with creatures of night
a day away from sanctified
a breath away from whole
restore my soul...
I crawl to you with ten fingers smoking
from turning the pages of sin
with my spirit choking
from earning the wages of sin
a bridge away from justified
a step away from whole
restore my soul...
Imagine crawling on blistered hands and bloody, dirty knees toward Jesus. You know that he's closer than he looks (a blurry image out of reach) because you can hear his voice, although it is Truth that merely whispers through the noisy crowds and clouds of lies and culture, history and codependency.
Two extraordinary things happened as I drug my tattered soul toward the blurry image of Christ, leaving a trail of bloody mud as I went. The final thing is what I'll tell you first. I recognized one day my own image in the mirror, and it was more like the one I used to know: the one more innocent and clean. The blood was gone, and the wounds were...not open...and still tremendous scars- pretty ugly, gnarly scars, pink and fragile- but what's that? No pain. Even as I touched them, lightly at first--no pain! Of course, once in a while I will have to jump back in a sudden searing sting, like the scars are being meddled with by a tick or some huge, intrusive insect. But a swat away, and my mind is snapped back to that Truth that is all too real to me now, and the pain subsides. I rub gently the scars as the adrenaline melts. I sometimes whisper the name of Jesus over and over.
The first extraordinary thing is that the closer I got to Jesus, the more in focus the blurry image became, the less it looked like what I thought Jesus was supposed to look like. Instead of this iconic, long-haired stranger-man in a robe coming at me with arms open as if all I needed was a big hug, I saw: a woman with blonde hair who makes me feel like I still live in California, and there were tears in her eyes as she watches my Lover dice up my heart and lay it on the table like a tempting sushi display, and I could tell her heart was breaking right alongside mine as she served us both grace in a chocolate cake. I saw another woman with sad eyes of understanding and compassion watch me through plastic glasses, her token red lips telling me that because of Christ, I will survive this. And yet another woman, running alongside me on a treadmill, coaching me to work out the body and heal the soul, and I remember how we strengthened muscles, built up endurance and how my head cleared until I finally understood that Jesus actually loves me, just the way I am, with all this blood and dirt and brokenness. I saw the couple who counseled us, smiling with the certainty that of course we'll get through this, like they knew that we'd already won, and they were calling it like it was, showing us the truth and asking us what was stopping us from doing the hard thing. As the image got clearer I saw that it was actually countless babysitters and friends and neighbors, helping me with the everyday tasks of life, and believing in the future that I myself could not bring myself to believe in. He looked like all the people who said they'd stay by me until my heart was whole, promising that happy endings are possible, that you just have to take the risk and trust God with what 'happy' is going to look like, because you have never seen anything like this before.
As Jesus came into focus I realized it wasn't one guy in a robe--it was a whole crowd of people, each of them carrying Christ's redemption in their own hearts, each of them an oak, a priest, a shepherd. As I approach this Jesus I am enveloped, and I am no longer crawling. They absorb my body and I absorb theirs, and I remember suddenly how my soul got to taking that nosedive into an empty pool...
It was a long ladder up to the diving board. I didn't always realize where I was going or that I was still climbing, because there seemed to be so many people there with me. The whole world seemed to be cheering me on, my Lover just rungs above me, just out of reach, and I needed to touch him. Finally at the top I'm so close, I can almost feel--
I lunge out arms extended....into nothing...emptiness.
My lungs explode and I can't breathe, I notice finally the eroded state of my tongue and I can't speak, the pain of my blistered eardrums (I can't hear God!), the twisting of my vertebrae. My fingers burn, blistered and smoking, and my spirit....chokes. What have I done, what have I become?
Then the tears. Days and days of tears. And the prayers. Some are mine, many are not, because I just don't have the strength. Days go by, sometimes taking years just to pass hours, and I have to remember to breathe. So He breathes on me, an immaculate CPR and my consciousness resumes... Those friends, those bodies making up the image of Christ, they have been busy building a bridge for me, and wholeness is on the other side. Before I can wonder if I have faith enough, I realize I've already been walking across the bridge, and my steps have brought me to justification, sanctification... and I am reconciled... to Jesus! Reconciled to my Father. I plead with grateful tears for him to restore my soul and he tells me it has already been done, and I am whole.
And yes, I'll take that big hug now....
"Return, faithless people," declares the LORD, "for I am your husband. I will choose you...Then I will give you shepherds after my own heart, who will lead you with knowledge and understanding..."