The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” ~John 10:10

In Exodus 20, the God who calls Himself, “I AM,” commands his people, “You shall have no other gods before Me.” The Lord of the universe, who owns the cattle on a thousand hills, has no need of us, yet He commands this, not out of selfishness or arrogance, but for our own good.  He desires for us to worship, adore and depend on Him alone.

God wants to give us no less than Himself, poured out in the very life of His Son, Jesus.  A feast has been laid before us: a feast of His love, a cup overflowing with His great grace.  “Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good; Blessed is the man who trusts in Him!” (Psalm 34:8) Yet foolish ones that we are, we are often content to stroll by the banquet table admiring the food, but uninterested in even tasting it. And when we ignore His generous offer, He will often proffer an exchange and institute it without our assent: God takes away our distractions so that we can see only Him.  I found myself there, empty of all but pain, grief and sorrow. But in exchange, what a gift He was offering to me!

In The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, it is according to the Deep Magic from the Dawn of Time that the witch is allowed to take the life of Aslan in lieu of the traitor Edmond’s. It is the Deeper Magic from Before the Dawn of Time that turns back the witch’s evil schemes. Here, too, in my life, something was at work, something more powerful than the intense darkness I had passed through: glimmers of light were beginning to dawn, a piercing radiance overpowering the darkness, leaving me in breathless awe.

I sensed it most keenly when taking communion. What had once been mere habit now became a holy encounter. Redemption with a capital R was here, working, healing, full of power, changing and remaking my life, my family, my home. Here, represented in the broken bread, was His body, broken to make me whole; here in the cup was represented His blood, the stains of which make all things pure. I wept as I pictured His blood flowing, washing away all those things that had caused me so much pain.

And so the Exchange had been made. In the midst of the emptiness of loss, I was full to the brim. In the midst of the darkness of the unknown, I had absolute certainty.  And I was about to discover, as did Job, that what God takes away, He sometimes gives back.

*Many thanks to Rev. Phil Kruis of Rincon Mountain Pres., whose ideas I borrowed liberally from his sermon on 9/18/11.