Nothing is as amazing as God’s grace. MacDonald’s sonnet captures it with an image that invites me to hand over something I hold dear. My comments follow.
Thou art the truth, the life. Thou, Lord, wilt see
To every question that perplexes me.
I am thy being; and my dignity
Is written with my name down in thy book;
Thou wilt care for it. Never shall I think
Of anything that thou mightst overlook:–
In faith-born triumph at thy feet I sink.
George MacDonald, Diary of an Old Soul
Augsburg Fortress Press 1994
It seems MacDonald is telling us that no matter how good or smart he might be, he’ll never outdo the True Perfectionist. That would be the One and Only Creator who knows how to think through everything. Especially everything about MacDonald and about us.
We get lost in assessing the good, the bad, the ugly, the beautiful, the astounding, the horrifying, and especially the perplexing. All our over-heated cogitation simply creates a Gordian Knot of immense proportions. Puzzles never to be mastered. Dilemmas never to be resolved. Dignity never to be adequately defended. Especially our own.
Today’s sonnet tells me I stand before my Creator with only one choice. To accept or reject what my Creator offers me. It also tells me I need not fear judgment according to my scorecard or self-evaluation. Rather, I can expect a judgment for full acceptance of me with my dignity. Not because I earned or deserve it, but because it comes with the territory.
“I am thy being; and my dignity is written with my name down in thy book….” Amazing. I don’t have to worry about it, try to dress anything up or help my Creator remember or resolve what I cannot forget or resolve.
Even better, the ink is permanent. The period mark has been entered. Full stop. In fact, I now stand before the only True Perfectionist who might say something like this to me:
Forget about hiding or trying to run away. Forget about explaining yourself or thinking you can understand your life. There isn’t anything about you I don’t already know, and haven’t taken into account. Of course you’re not God! You’re free to stop pretending you know or could ever know yourself better than I do. Or that you could instruct me about questions or information I may have overlooked!
So what if you overlook something? You’re still my creation. I’ve already guaranteed your dignity by inscribing your name indelibly in my book. You don’t have to fight for it, assert it, defend it, reject or explain it. Try as you may, you can’t add to what I’ve already created. Isn’t the dignity with which I endowed you more than enough?
I want you to accept this gift. Not because you deserve it, but because you have faith in my assessment of you. I’m looking for “faith-born triumph,” not self-congratulatory or self-serving explanations about why you deserve anything or nothing at all. In fact, you don’t even have to ‘get it’ when you sink at my feet. All I ask is that You surrender your attempts to justify yourself.
I think Jesus knew what this feels like. It’s the kind of faith-born triumph he may have experienced on Calvary when he sank before God, not knowing what would come next. Why did he do this without defending himself and his dignity? Because despite all the agony, betrayals, contempt and lies, he had faith-born triumph.
Jesus trusted that his Creator had Jesus’ dignity written with his name in the book of life, not in the book of death. Our Creator graciously invites us to follow in Jesus’ way, to give up trying to justify or punish ourselves, or to make ourselves perfect.
© Elouise Renich Fraser, 2 April 2016
Image found at jeanwilund.com