I believe it was Red Smith who reportedly said it’s really very easy to be a writer – all you have to do is sit down at the typewriter and open a vein.
I often would think of this line when I sat down to write. But now I think of it differently, too, in relation to our God as Author of All.
Before I was a Christian, I used to be really bothered by Christianity’s associations with blood. Such phrases as “He shed His blood for you,” and “by His blood we are washed clean” made me cringe as literal images of being immersed in bloody bathtubs came to mind. It all seemed very Carrie to me (if you are as old as me and remember well the 1970’s cult classic film based on Stephen King’s novel).
In fact, just strolling past the “Precious Blood” monastery made me shudder. This blood as recompense thing … this human sacrifice to somehow appease an angry God … well it all seemed a tad bit gothic, if you asked me.
Even after I became a Christian, at times the verbage still bothered me. It seemed that believers threw Jesus’ blood in my face, that sometimes the clichés flew fast and thick, and they seemed, well … how else to put it again, but freaky.
I mean, how can a religion that claims to overcome the trappings of idols and polytheism and superstitious ritual be so soaked in … blood?
The blood factor tended to be one of those elements of my faith that I found more convenient to overlook, to not quite settle upon for very long.
Until I recently found myself soaked in blood. Quite literally.
Then the connection – and the profound meaning – so beyond cliché, so beyond the trite and the vampiric Hallowe’eny – came crashing in like a tidal wave of recognizance.
One of those great cosmic clicks on my inner combination lock that whispered, and shouted …
I get it.
I get it!
Here’s how I bled into a better understanding …
A week after I gave birth to our beautiful son, I suffered a severe postpartum hemorrhage. There was blood everywhere. I was taken by ambulance to the ER, and remained hospitalized for another several days.
It was a scary, vulnerable and physically humbling time. Here I had the joy of a new baby in front of me, but I was too weak to do much more than nurse him. As I recovered over the last few weeks, I could barely get out of bed, let alone take care of my other children.
I realized that the loss of blood had taken everything I had. And then some.
This was the cost of paying for my child’s life.
During my recovery I yearned for Scripture. Once I had the strength to reopen my Bible, I returned to where I had been reading in Hebrews. Lo and behold, I was faced with the following passages from chapter 9 entitled “The Blood of Christ” (I’m not kidding). In particular, I wish to share these lines with you:
How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!
For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance – now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant …
In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.
Blood circulates our physical bodies and animates us just as God’s forgiveness flows through our redeemed bodies and will raise our resurrected ones.
The blood God shed for us signifies the ultimate sacrifice: His own life given for ours, and the life He holds most dear in His beloved son is given as well.
That He would bleed for us in human form – as His only begotten son, also precious to Him beyond measure – speaks even more to me of the cost of His act. That He would give Himself, and His Son (the two as one, and yet distinct) blows apart any confines of cliché.
Yes, I love my child. I would give my life, without hesitation, for my child. But would I also give my child’s life to save another? My child’s life is more precious than even my own.
By giving both there is simply nothing else to give. I am bled out … I am spent. It indeed is finished. And the one I would give such sacrifice for is covered by the immensity of the gift.
Trauma prepares us for resurrection.
Again and again, I have learned this in life. In the facing or fear or acceptance of death. I think of this in the speeding ambulance, in the dark quiet of my hospital room.
The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming – not the realities themselves. (Hebrews 10.1)
Redemption is traumatic, as epitomized by the agony of the Cross. As illuminated by the epiphanies we have when faced with immense suffering, acute danger, or even our own deaths.
But along with the “buying back” comes the forgiveness. One couldn’t happen without the other. And that is why without their combination in the gift of grace, we cannot get to the resurrection part.
We cannot be reborn until we acknowledge the cost of that birth.
And then we appreciate – in terms of realizing its worth, our worth, in God, and thus recovering and increasing in our true dignity as righteousness.
Is this what it takes to bleed us into being, to write our stories in His blood?
I respond now not with the fear or ridicule of misunderstanding, but with the awe and praise of having but a mere taste of comprehension …
And I wonder …
How to live the words of my life as worthy of the opening of God’s vein?
NOTE TO MY READERS: I have two quick disclaimers here, friends: First, I hesitated sharing personal health information on a public blog, but then realized my personal growth in God was too meaningful (at least to me) not to share as a result of my last few weeks. I tried to spare you the details J And second, I do apologize for not posting here more regularly during the past few weeks. It has been a busy season with baby, recovery and the wrapping up of my next book. But I aim to be here more often now, and hope you will join me.