Sacrificial Kiss

April 8, 2012

Uncategorized

The following post is from a rough draft of a key chapter for a book that’s been on my heart to finish writing for years.  I finally made progress this past year but there is still a ways to go.  If I ever get it published, it may look quite differently than what is posted below.  However, in light of Easter and my discussion on communion this past weekend, I think it’s quite significant as it forever altered how I viewed the cross and the meaning of communion.

 Sacrificial Kiss

It was the most meaningful kiss of my life.   Not in a sensual or sexy way but by far the most powerful and symbolic kiss I ever had.  One that communicated a kind of love that Hollywood can only dream about.   It was to be one of the last times I kissed Amy Jo Porter.

Hooked up to a CPAP oxygen machine (CPAP is an acronym for “continuous positive airway pressure”) and fighting for her life, Amy motioned to me as I stood by her side.  She had almost died a few nights earlier.  Now, she had a partial mask over her mouth and face, assisting her with breathing oxygen that her cancer filled lungs could no longer produce.

My feisty fiancée refused to give up or quit fighting.  Over these last few difficult days she was seldom able to speak verbally.  But she communicated to her family, close friends and me through signing the alphabet.  Those close to her, all took a self taught crash course on the ABC’s of sign language as Amy signed words one letter at a time.  What she didn’t sign, she wrote on paper.

That day, Amy communicated that she wanted to kiss me.   A kiss was something we hadn’t shared in these last few days as she fought to live.  Of course that wouldn’t be possible without removing her mask – her only source of oxygen.   The girl who was supposed to be my bride in just a few more weeks, wasn’t about to be deterred.  Setting her mask aside, I leaned in and we kissed.  It wasn’t steamy nor arousing.  I honestly don’t remember much about the kiss itself except for the depth of it’s meaning.   It was a sacrificial kiss.  I will never be able to forget the feeling and impact that it left on me.   For a brief moment, Amy sacrificed the one thing that was keeping her alive – her oxygen, in order to share a special moment with me.  That one semi-brief kiss communicated more love, true love than any cheap thrill or make-out session ever could.  It was a million miles from a steamy big screen romantic kiss like you see in the movies, yet in many ways, it defined the most romantic truth of all – real love that goes the distance and sacrifices it’s own welfare to be with the one that is loved.

About a year, after Amy died I was sitting in a church service in Oklahoma City.  For most of that past year, I could barely read my bible.  It was all I could do, just to get out of bed each morning.  I still went to church, though I usually sit in the back.   I had a job and was working on a master’s degree, but I was still numb and tended to keep a safe distance from most of life.  However, that weekend in January 1997, God began to renew me.  It started with a simple act of discipline – waking up early on a Saturday morning to be at a 5 AM meeting with some members of my church.

My heart was stirred.  It wasn’t what the special speaker said, so much as my eagerness to be close to God and the simple act of getting out of bed early.  Somehow I felt God’s presence that day like I hadn’t since before Amy died.  Perhaps even like I hadn’t since before the onset of her illness.  I felt a closeness to God that wouldn’t leave me.  Everywhere I went, I knew He was with me.  I had technically known that throughout my months of grief.  But knowing and sensing are two different things.  God had seemed so far and life so hard.   Doors seemed so closed.   I had just been going through the motions of life.   How I had missed my two friends “joy” and “peace”. How awesome to have them back in my life.  What a blessing to be full of hope again and to seem to be full of God again. And He didn’t leave.  God was there with me in my waking and sleeping that weekend.  It was the first of what would be several times of spiritual renewal during my long process of grieving.

That night I had a strange thought, “the Lord is one”.  It repeated in my mind again and again.  The “Lord is one”.  What does that mean and where did it come from?  I don’t normally hear God very clearly.  Yet, I didn’t think that was a thought I had manufactured on my own.  I went to bed wondering what it meant.  Was it something about Islam or Judaism?  God is one?  Not long after,  I just happen to read in my daily bible reading, Deuteronomy 6:4-9:

4 Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. 5 Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. 6 These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. 7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 8 Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 9 Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates.”

God is “One”, it hit me as I read those verses.  He longs to be “one” with us and our daily lives as we walk along the road, when we lie down and when we get up.   Although that interpretation might be a bit of a hermeneutical stretch in regards to the meaning of “one”, I think that the overall concept fits the deuteronomic call to be holy and live a God pleasing life   God wants to be one and a part of all that we do.  There is but one God as we walk, work, live and breathe.  He longs to be with us in all we do!  It was exactly what I had been experiencing that weekend as my spiritual heart was awakened and began beating again.  God was indeed one and not far or distant.

That Sunday morning at my home church, Lakeview Park, there was an open communion during the prayer time.  Anyone could come forward to pray and to take communion as they felt led.   As I went forward to pray, it was an incredible time for me as I received the Lord’s supper.  For the past weekend, I had experienced God’s presence in way that I hadn’t in months.  I realized that this is what communion was really all about.  Not just about remembering what God had done for us on the cross but living in communion and relationship with Jesus all the time. Oh, how I had missed His constant abiding presence during my time of grief.  I knew He was there theoretically but in my own pain, He had seemed so far and so distant.

That weekend, it felt so wonderful to be aware of his abiding presence.   I left the altar that morning with a new understanding of communion.  Jesus died that we might be able to live in a constant relationship and be able to live in co –union with Him.  How sweet it was to be able to live in communion with God.

As I went back to my pew and the worship service continued. I whispered a prayer and asked the Lord to show me more of what this new insight to communion meant.  As we continued singing, I was reminded of a conversation that I had one evening with Amy during her last few months.  Amy’s body had gone through so much during the course of her various chemotherapies, radiation and experimental treatments.  In the process, she had been poked, prodded, cut, and pierced.  Her body was weak from the cancer and weak from the fight.  That night as she opened up to me, she told me that it would be much easier to just give up.   The most painless thing for her, would be to stop fighting and to just go to heaven. She knew she would be with Jesus and free from pain. But she didn’t want to quit fighting.   Amy wanted to live and to continue to have her incredible relationship with her parents and brother whom she loved dearly.  Philip she said, “I want to marry you.  I want to have kids and a life together. I want a future with you Philip”.  I realized that one of the reasons, perhaps a big reason that Amy was fighting and allowing her body to go through so much pain, was in order to have a relationship with me.  She wanted to continue to live in communion with me.

As God brought back to my mind that special conversation with Amy, He seemed to say to me, “where Amy suffered, was poked and went through pain fighting to live in order to have relationship with you, in a similar way, I was also was pierced, and went through great pain, only not fighting to live like Amy but rather laying down my life on the cross in order to have relationship with you Philip.  I died that we might have communion and constant relationship with each other.  And not only you, Philip, but look around this sanctuary.  I suffered and died in order to have relationship with everyone in this room and not only in this room but everyone in the whole world.   That’s a picture of communion.  That’s what it’s ultimately about – relationship”.

During the passion of Christ as Jesus suffered and died, He was fighting to have relationship with humanity.   The one who was betrayed by the self-serving kiss of a friend, gave humanity the ultimate sacrificial kiss on the cross – giving His all that we might have relationship with Him.  In this ultimate act of the divine romance, it was God’s own sacrificial kiss for all of humanity in which He expressed the depth of His love as He was in Christ willingly laying down his own life and fighting for relationship and a life and future with us.

           This Easter Sunday, we celebrate our God of resurrections!   I’m only writing this today because I’ve experienced Resurrection Hope!   No matter where you are today or what you’ve been through, the God of Resurrections longs for you to experience the fullness of Life and Relationship with Him through Christ Jesus! 

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3 Comments on “Sacrificial Kiss”

  1. writerstogether Says:

    I am so grateful that God shared these tender moments with you and through Amy, and that you are now sharing them with others. I see Christ’s resurrection power mightily shining through your journey. God’s presence has remained near at every step. May your joy and peace overflow exponentially as you commune with the Lord as Friend to friend. I pray God continues to use you to reach multitudes of others of the nations, sharing His sacrifice and resurrection power wherever He leads.

    Be blessed!

    Reply

  2. writerstogether Says:

    I am so grateful that God shared these tender moments with you and through Amy, and that you are now sharing them with others. I see Christ’s resurrection power mightily shining through your journey. God’s presence has remained near at every step. May your joy and peace overflow exponentially as you commune in with the Lord as Friend to friend. I pray God continues to use you to reach multitudes of others of the nations, sharing His sacrifice and resurrection power wherever He leads.

    Be blessed!

    Reply

  3. Anna Burrell Says:

    Thats so good! Thank you for sharing that tender part of your heart. Hope to read more articles soon. 🙂

    Reply

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