Thursday, April 17, 2014

When Death is Near

I'm melancholy today.

Death is near and I keep imagining myself at the Last Supper table with Jesus.  I wonder if the disciples fully understood what was about to happen.  I wonder if they could possibly wrap their minds around the anguish and the pain that was to come.

I have a vase of roses that are on their way out on a table next to me and I'm beginning to smell the rot of death.  I have tulips in the kitchen whose petals are falling, leaving the pistils bare, naked, unadorned.

You'd think I'd clean up this mess, but no.  I don't do it, not today, because today they remind me death is near.  And while I know resurrection is coming, while I know my Savior lives, I'm taking Maundy Thursday and Good Friday to heart.  To remember the fullness of His death allows me to unearth the amazing sacrifice He made for me and see it in its rawness.  To veil the pain and the agony is to rob the whole design of its significance.

I haven't pressed into Holy Week like this before.  For so many years, I've glossed over the weekdays and showed up on Sunday with all my praise and white on.  I've lifted my hands high, my voice loud, my heart full.  And it was good.  Celebrating the resurrection is so, so good.

But this year, this year, God has so much He wanted to root out of me and pour into me during this Lenten season.  And here we are on the home stretch and He's not letting me lose any intensity.  Because to truly know the death of Jesus is to truly know the death of this Love Idol I've been carrying around all my life.

While I've been in Matthew every morning this week, just now, I've turned to the Gospel of Luke.  Jesus has broken the bread and He's shared the cup and just a few sentences later, His closest friends are marveling over who would be the greatest among them.

They had love idols, too.

Just like me, they didn't understand that worldly acclamation and numbers showing success were not the answer to their emptiness.  They didn't get that fullness comes just from the incredible love of Jesus, the Man who sat with them at the table.  They had this very Man within arms reach, and yet, they ended up still trying to hug themselves, to congratulate themselves, to promote themselves.

I laid down criticism this Lenten season because critical words from others and myself have had the power to wreck me.  And Jesus doesn't want me to be wrecked like that anymore.  Through this journey, I have felt this need for worldly approval begin to die.  It has withered, just like my roses, inside my soul.  The love idol has lost luster.  I can feel it.

But it makes sense to me, these last few days, that Satan has tried to bring it back, to plaster my failures and my losses in front of me so that no matter which way I try to turn, I cannot escape them.  Because he knows to let this love idol die is to let me live.  To live in the fullness of joy and peace that God has for me, that Jesus died to give me.

So I must watch through Maundy Thursday and Good Friday. I must watch my Savior die because He's taking my love idol with Him.  It's all on the cross.

To see Jesus on the cross with my love idol, oh, the picture of grace He has painted for me since the beginning.  The picture for decades He's tried to get me to see.

To lay down criticism, my love idol, was to lay down one of the biggest obstructions to my walk with God.  I'm seeing the fullness of the cross for the first time.  I read Jesus' response to His disciples and my spirit simply cries out, "Yes..."

"In this world the kings and great men lord it over their people, yet they are called 'friends of the people.'  But among you it will be different. Those who are the greatest among you should take the lowest rank, and the leader should be like a servant.  Who is more important, the one who sits at the table or the one who serves? The one who sits at the table, of course.  But not here! For I am among you as the one who serves." Luke 22: 25-27

Want to know more about Love Idol written by Jennifer Dukes Lee?  Click this link to read the reviews and purchase.


  1. Jennifer, I am so moved by your post. I want my heart and mind focused on the meaning of these days before celebrating the Resurrection of our Lord and Savior. Thank you for this post and beautiful photo!

  2. Jen, this is a very moving post. I,too, have been more attentive to the days 'in between' Palm Sunday and Resurrection Sunday this year. I'm sensing the Lord is just saying to be quiet tomorrow (Good Friday) and turn my heart towards his death for me...then on to the celebration.
    As you said,"To veil the pain and the agony is to rob the whole design of its significance."
    Oh, He is good.

  3. I enjoyed reading this. An interesting theme of pondering this week. My husband has Good Friday off and we are going to use that time to celebrate by pausing and remembering his work on the cross.

  4. Thank you for this today, Jen. This was incredibly moving. Each year since accepting Christ this week touches me in a new way. He brings new understanding to what it was He did on the cross for me...for us. It's just overwhelming. I've been a bit gloomy to not have my husband husband but maybe not having him home has helped me to have more quiet time with Him this take it all in. Thank you so much for sharing.


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