The other day, Faith asked if I might do a quick proof read on something she had written. It was unlike her other papers which are usually in MLA or APA format, so tidy and professional. I read it through more than once and my response was, "I have no corrections, Faithie. Only tears."
I had to share it with you.
By FAITH JONES
I see only horror. The feeling of black night envelops me. Every image I see and voice I hear all carries a threat. I cannot control myself. I cannot do anything to stop the destruction that follows in my wake. All day and night without rest I shout hoarsely, staggering blindly through the slums of Jerusalem. I’m not from here; I’m from Magdala. I wish I was back there now. Here everyone stares at me distastefully, as if I am the devil himself. I feel as though I will be ripped apart from the inside. The writhing in my soul is too great for me to bear. I scream loudly and shrilly, hoping to ease the agonizing reality I find myself in, but nothing changes. I cannot remember anything different. Has it always been this way? Will it always be this way? Hope is a foreign concept; I know nothing of it. I collapse to the ground, head reeling and body shaking. Through the fog in my mind, I see Him. He is looking at me. My face must have contorted into something horrific as I cursed, spitting in His direction. He does not scurry away, as many do. He does not curse back, like some do. He does not even frown at me, making me feel like the scum I am. He smiles. A smile? I had almost forgotten what that was. I begin to tremble and sweat streams down my face. My breathing becomes hard and I try to stand up, but to no avail. Instead, the demons throw me down into the mud on the street. I convulse wildly, crying out with voices that are not my own. The Man rushes over to me. His shadow falls across me in the fading light, and sitting up, I strike out at His feet. He is not intimidated, nor is He disgusted. His presence overwhelms me, and I suddenly feel calm. It is an unfamiliar emotion. Peace. What is it? Fear of this Stranger and His power over my demons begins to grip me. Who is He, that He can still them? No witch nor authority has ever been able to do that. I whimper, covering my face in my hands. Dirty hands. Hands broken and bleeding from the years of hardship. Years of pain. Years of hopelessness. I feel His warm hands envelop mine, and His kind voice reaches into my darkness. He says a command, but it’s not directed at me. Suddenly, with a loud cry and one last convulsion, I collapse in utter exhaustion. His strong arm catches me before I hit the ground, and I gaze into His loving eyes in wonder. My demons are gone! I feel almost human again. I inhale shakingly, then melt into tears while He hugs me close. The struggle, the pain, the alienation from my fellow man: gone. My muddled thoughts clear, and my everlasting headache recedes. I look up at Him again, amazed at the kind of love that it took to reach out to such a repulsive person as I am. Why did He even bother? Who am I that He cares? Who is He, that He would be willing to reach down into the sin and grime of my life to rescue me? Whoever He is, I don’t think He’s human. No human has that kind of amazing love. No one can love me. Except Him.
I am not the same woman as I used to be. My demons have been cast out. I am clothed. I am loved. I am a follower of Jesus. He was the One that healed me that day, and I have been His disciple ever since. I can’t help it; I am possessed by a different Spirit now. I hope Jesus knew what He was getting into that day, because I’m never letting Him go. I have tried to express my gratitude many times, but all my feeble efforts fall tremendously short. I simply cannot repay Him. He rescued me from a life that was hell on earth, and I will live with Him in His kingdom for all eternity. He will never let me go. Salvation is truly an amazing thing. God doesn’t care for riches, or comfort, or popularity. He cares for me, and others like me. Sinners in pain. I have seen Him heal many other demon possessed people. I don’t think most of them had as many as I did, but when I looked at them, I felt their despair; despair that I remember quite vividly. Then, as He healed them, I see the same inexpressibly joy that overwhelmed me. His compassion is unsurpassed. I can only thank Him, and all I have to give Him is my meager life. He has it. I am His forever.
Tonight is very cold. I am fighting hopelessness once again. This time, though, it’s not demons. It’s the religious leaders. I thought they were supposed to be the righteous ones; the teachers, people who are our example. Now they have arrested the Son of God, and are illegally trying Him for blasphemy. I think it’s blasphemy to drag God down to their petty level, to bind Him and make Him play their stupid game. I wish I could do something, but I have absolutely no influence with the Pharisees. They still look down their lofty noses when I pass them in the street. They think they are so holy, but in reality, they are prideful and graceless. They make up impossible rules and judge us all for breaking them. They call Jesus a criminal. Jesus! He was incredible enough to put aside His heavenly throne to come and save us from the consequences of our sin. Yet they tied Him up, hauled Him to a courtroom, and delight in scorning Him. He is patient. All night long He is taken from one courtroom to another. They are trying to find some fault in God. Good luck, Pharisees! God doesn’t make mistakes. The sun is finally rising, but the chill hasn’t left my heart. I pray desperately, hoping that God the Father will think of the best course of action. There’s a crowd now, running and yelling down the street. I join them, trying to find out what is happening. Then I see Him. He is beaten to a pulp, a twisted crown of thorns pressed into His scalp, and He is carrying a monstrous wooden cross. A cry of anguish leaves my lips as I fall to my knees. I call His name, tears streaming down my face. I don’t know how He possibly could have heard me, but somehow He did. His bloody face turns in my direction, and He smiles at me. How can He smile? I watch helplessly as He is forced up the street towards the hill. Golgotha, the place where the condemned are crucified and left to die. The horror of the moment fills my soul. I can do nothing. Nothing but follow. I have followed Him ever since that day He healed me. I will follow Him now. My body shakes as I try to suppress my grief. At the top of the hill, nails are driven into His hands and feet. Every cry of pain that leaves His lips becomes my own. I turn away as the cross is hoisted high, displaying the King of the universe stripped and dying. I lose all track of time as I stare numbly at the scene before me. His breathing is becoming shallow now. I inhale painfully, wishing I could take His place. I wish I could heal Him the way He healed me so long ago. I wish He wasn’t on that cross. I jerk in surprise when He cries out. Then His head drops and I know He is dead. I bite my lip as a soldier pierces His side with a spear. The mixture of blood and water that pours from His lung is proof of my suspicion. The sky is suddenly black, and lightening flashes. I turn and run, not knowing where I am going. I don’t care. My Savior is gone.
The spices sting my swollen nostrils as I mix them together. I have no more tears, only a dry grief that eats up my soul with each passing moment. I am going to anoint Him. It’s the least I can do for the One who rescued me. I pick up the box of ointment and walk out of the house. The early sun hurts my red, puffy eyes. I forgot my cloak, but I don’t even think about the chilly morning. I haven’t considered how I will roll the stone from the tomb when I get there. My feet trudge slowly towards the tomb, mindlessly stepping over the guards’ bodies. I suddenly look up in surprise; the stone is moved away! I turn and stare at the guards, passed out before the open grave. I peek into the dark cave, then drop my spices in amazement. Turning, I flee down the hill, not stopping until I reach Jesus’ disciples. I gasp out that He is gone; the grave is empty! John and Peter immediately begin running back towards the tomb, and I pursue them. I finally reach them when they are emerging from the tomb, eyes sad. Peter is shaking his head in despair, but John looks ecstatic. John keeps going on and on to Peter about how Jesus promised He would raise from the dead, but Peter wordlessly shuffles down the hill. I watch them go, and grief overcomes me. Someone must have stolen His body! But who? And where would they have taken it? The grief in my heart flows down my cheeks. I look into the grave again, but this time it’s not dark. I gasp as two angels, clothed in white, ask me why I am weeping. I turn around and see a Man standing behind me. He also asks me why I am crying. I figure He was the gardener, so I ask Him where He took Jesus’ body. The Man says my name, and the life leaves my legs. I cry out as I recognize my Savior. He is alive!