I’ve been avoiding His gaze. I treat Him as though He is just another picture on the wall. He is just above the Theotokos on my altar at home which makes it hard to avoid Him and yet I manage it somehow. The Theotokos of Vladimir gives great comfort, sweet mother. Sometimes when I walk by I focus in on her and even remove her from the altar for us to have a chat. It’s not right though. I’ve been avoiding Him ever since He arrived.
I chose “Christ the Savior and Life-giver” because He looked the least stern….and because of the book. I liked that He offered this book, that He had some look of grace about Him. The description of the icon included this:
“Christ looks at us as Ruler and Judge on the one hand, but Saviour and Life-Giver on the other, as this icon’s name suggests, so that we will be sober in conscious understanding of our many sins and imperfections, yet hopeful that we may turn from these sins, repent, and receive Life Everlasting.”
And yet, when I look at Him I’m not reminded of Life Everlasting, I’m reminded only of my sin and my reluctance to release that sin. I find, more and more, my desire to hold close that sin. I can name it, easily. I know exactly the corner where I tuck it away every single morning and night. I know when it pulses in me, ebbs and flows with my stress level as the tide follows the phases of the moon. Each day when I pass Him, He asks, very sweetly in fact, for that sin and each morning I ignore Him. I am the sulky teen with the wisest Father, the teen who is convinced her Father knows nothing of what it feels like to be so very out of control and so very out of her depth.
I want to give it up to Him, I really do, just as I know what it felt like to be that teenager, wanting to engage my parents, wanting to be assured that they could handle my problems, that they could understand them. But it’s more than that. My sin is so well known to me that it feels as if it’s part of me. Sometimes I think it’s my sin that defines me, makes me cool, makes me popular and well loved. I begin to believe it’s this sin that gives me confidence to get through the day, I may even think it’s my sin that roots me.
That’s all a lie…no matter how true it feels.
The fear is that to give up this part of me means giving up something more than a lie. That lie has arms and legs and voice and flesh. It’s so well developed that I forget that the sin is not me. I’m afraid to let it go. I’m afraid there will be nothing left in it’s place.
Or worse, that more sin will just rush in to fill it’s place, water rushing into the place I just bailed with that rusty bucket. It’s overwhelming and often unbearable.
Yet He has some look of grace…and that book, He has that book. He’s already promised hope and not destruction. He has done His part, this steady stream, this constant supply of living water. There’s nothing else He can do, nothing else He needs to do, to convince me.
I have to want the life more than I want the sin.