Anyone who is close to me will tell you that I am not one who is easily moved to tears. I used to view this as a strength, but now see it as kind of an emotional weakness that is simply a result of a hardened heart and therefore an inability to truly empathize. I cannot tell you how many times I've thought to myself, "I should be crying in this situation..." whether it be in a moment of comforting someone else in his/her pain or simply confronting my own sinfulness. Now, I'm not saying that I wish I were one of those people who could cry at the drop of a hat. That's just not how the Lord wired me and it would be completely inauthentic of me to do so. But I do want to grow in the area of empathy as well as grieving over things that are truly painful. I think my tendency is to avoid dwelling on pain and sadness at all costs. I'll keep myself 'busy' and ignore problems as if they don't exist or quickly move to look on the bright side. I have a really hard time identifying with people who struggle with depression because I just don't ever go there. Again, I don't want to become melancholy or morbidly introspective but, rather, mature in having the right emotions in the appropriate situations.
All of that rambling is to say that I am caught off guard every time (however infrequent) I am moved to tears. The other night, John, the kids and I were having family worship and I was responsible for reading the Bible story to the kids. We read from a few different 'choice' story Bibles and that night we were at the story of the crucifixion as told in The Jesus Storybook Bible, by Sally Lloyd-Jones.
Right in the middle of reading about the soldiers and crowds mocking Jesus and how He willingly endured it all, my eyes began to well-up with tears. The story is retold so beautifully that I'm going to share portions of it here:
"You say you've come to rescue us!" people shouted. "But you can't even rescue yourself!"
But they were wrong. Jesus could have rescued Himself. A legion of angels would have flown to His side - if He'd called.
"If you were really the Son of God, you could just climb down off that cross!" they said.
And of course they were right. Jesus could have just climbed down. Actually, He could have just said a word and made it all stop...
But Jesus stayed.
You see, they didn't understand. It wasn't the nails that kept Jesus there. It was love.
"Papa? Jesus cried, frantically searching the sky. "Papa? Where are you? Don't leave me!"
And for the first time - and the last - when He spoke, nothing happened. Just a horrible, endless silence. God didn't answer. He turned away from His Boy.
Tears rolled down Jesus' face. The face of the One who would wipe away every tear from every eye...
The full force of the storm of God's fierce anger at sin was coming down. On His own Son. Instead of His people. It was the only way God could destroy sin, and not destroy His children whose hearts were filled with sin.
I think it's sadly common for our hearts to grow cold and hardened to gospel story after years of living the Christian life. This could be a result of many different reasons (i.e. lack of time in the Word, prayer or simply meditating on God's grace in salvation; forgetting how sinful we are and therefore our desperate need for salvation; Bible study becoming purely an academic exercise; lack of true fellowship in the Body of Christ/the Church; etc.) So I was deeply thankful that a fresh and simple retelling of the gospel by a children's story Bible would move me. In reading it aloud, I was forced to listen in a new way to what my sin deserved and yet how much I am loved by God in the Cross of Christ.
For those of you who attend Trinity, this and other story Bibles are available for purchase in our church's bookstore. For those of you who don't, you can order The Jesus Storybook Bible (and other great books) from the Westminster Bookstore by clicking here. I hope that you find it profitable for your children as well as renewing the joy of your salvation.