when faith feels like oil in my hands

there are days when holding onto all I know to be truth feels like being given a litre of oil and only my hands to hold it with

the days when arguments storm around the internet with Christians pointing fingers at other Christians, and fingers racing across faith divides faster than lightning strikes, and enough rhetoric to make the whole world confused and turned off

the days I don’t feel anything

the days I look at the violence we commit against each other and the way we ravage the planet

and I start to doubt that I have built my house on a rock and I start to worry that I’m trying to build on quicksand

do you have those days?

this is why I need Lent

this is why I need a daily dose of reminding that running from pain is not the way of the cross

that pain and heartache are evidence of how we all need the cross

that pain, rejection, fear, misunderstanding…. these are not the end of the story

Jesus didn’t run from fear

he didn’t only say the words that people wanted to hear

he also didn’t seem to engage in endless debates about the side issues

he didn’t pretend there weren’t tears – he wept, remember?

he didn’t run away from pain – the lashes, the crown of thorns, the suffocating death, remember?

remember, remember, remember

so, when the world and all its words and images and arguments seek to land me with a faith that feels like oil, I need to run again, back to the cross and feel its splinters real in my hands – to face the pain without the fear

I sit and wait and breathe and hear again

peace I give you, my peace I leave with you – do not let your hearts be troubled, do not be afraid

and I drink it down like a parched plant

in this world there will be trouble but take heart, I have overcome the world

and when I have nothing left to hold onto but the splinters of the cross I wait to hear

surely, surely Miriam, little one I am with you right to the very end

and this is where I sit, and I stop trying to hold the oil and I let the oil pour down over my head and into my heart and I take courage in the fact that when I cannot hold onto my faith I can at least be held and I can know

that I have been given to Jesus by the Father and no-one can ever snatch me from his hands

and these words, this oil anointing, this will be enough for today

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