‘Looks’ like failure,

Image source: see notes
Image source: see notes

but it’s all good!

Likewise with Psalm 22 (link) that I recently saw in a new light. Considered by Biblical scholars as prophetic of Jesus and particularly his suffering on the cross, I take up my own cross alongside my Lord.

1 My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from my cries of anguish? (NIV*)

Stunned by God’s rebuff after having turned by default to him just like our brothers and sisters of old, we are confident of his reception even as our doubters and accusers grow in boldness.

5 To you they cried out and were saved; in you they trusted and were not put to shame. 6 But I am a worm and not a man, … 7 All who see me mock me; they hurl insults, shaking their heads. 8 “He trusts in the Lord,” they say, “let the Lord rescue him.”

But my confidence falters at God’s seeming unresponsiveness to his son Jesus whose very conception and birth are today religious holidays.

9 Yet you brought me out of the womb; … 10 From birth I was cast on you; from my mother’s womb you have been my God.

At 12, the runaway Jesus was finally found by his parents “going about his Father’s business,” holding religious scholars captive with his extraordinary grasp of the sacred texts (see Luke 2: 42-52). While I didn’t captivate any scholars, I longed for God even as a boy, curious at what my parents were attracted to in their belief and practice.

Although the answers to my questions lacked sufficient clarity to compel me, the questions lingered, fueling my continued seeking.  When later I was properly introduced to that very Jesus, I was grateful not resentful for those vague rituals in my youth.

But having Jesus or even being Jesus doesn’t make the journey of life any easier or smoother.

14 I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint.

Finding him was just the beginning.  Following him is a bit more involved. While at first I thought I found plausible places for my searching, I was later appalled to discover I had  been turned.

Aligning with Jesus is also to oppose his nemesis who shapes the look and manner of life outside “The Kingdom” – my neighborhood, workplaces, people.  As I grow to fit more with the Lord, I find myself more a misfit for my former and current life – looking like a failure to most and “all good” to only a few fellow disciples who get how the all part has entirely to do with Christ. Beyond the nurture of my Kingdom community, detractors and setbacks gather like thieves.

16 Dogs surround me, a pack of villains encircles me; … 17 All my bones are on display; people stare and gloat over me.

Then along comes my very own “verse 19,” sparking a subtle but operative shift, God finding me.

19 But you, Lord, … You are my strength… 24 For he has not despised or scorned the suffering of the afflicted one; he has not hidden his face from him  but has listened to his cry for help.

However, like an entrenched cancer, the mission is more involved than a simple executive order can achieve. In the case of Jesus, doesn’t he die anyway?  Didn’t his faithful flee? And God not show up?  Doesn’t he look like a failure?

If so, what’s with the closing proclamation?

27 All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the Lord, and all the families of the nations will bow down before him, 28 for dominion belongs to the Lord

Whereas the psalmist’s final stanza remained open for centuries, today we hold the next chapters of the story that he could only wonder about. Jesus doesn’t remain in the grave. He rises, walks and talks and heads home on his own accord, leaving us to usher the called into their seats at the table.

Here I am today. Though faltering at times, looking like a failure, yet still an usher for those who come through the Kingdom’s wide open gates.

“…the people who followed him should think of themselves more like ushers rather than the bouncers, and it would be God who decides who gets in. We’re the ones who simply show people their seats that someone else paid for.”  (Bob Goff, “Love Does” page 82)

What can be seen isn’t what is. In the end, Jesus and I end well.  It’s all good!



1) * All scripture quotes from NIV translation

2) Image site: http://www.leadernetworks.com/2013/04/avoid-online-customer-community-failure.html


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