Desert-grimed sandals stop a few feet away from her. The dark-haired owner of the sandals looks at her. He loves her.
Questions and hurts reverberate inside her. They don’t fade, but only intensify. Vulgar, unsolicited criticisms awake from hibernation.
He isn’t physically attractive. Though in his thirties, he doesn’t have a house of his own.
A more substantive critique threatens to erode her respect for him. I don’t understand why he couldn’t be timelier. Four days late! What kind of friend is he?
He sees grief the days have written beneath her eyes and disappointment catching her lips before they can form words. He waits.
My brother is dead. You could have saved him. Where were you?
He hears her thought. Sorrow settles on his face.
She kneels before him, close enough to reach out and touch his sandals. Her voice quavers as she vocalizes her accusation. “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.”
In strength and compassion, the Man responds to the anguish of Mary and the other mourners. He begins to cry. The One who forged Niagara empowers miniature waterfalls on His very being. An elderly servant, gravity, tugs His silent tears toward the dust.
Tiny droplets of saltwater descend the Creator’s face, drowning clumps of Palestinian sand and human expectations alike.
Almost two thousand years later, a nondescript fifteen-passenger van speeds across the lowlands of Louisiana. Inside, college students with sore muscles, tanned forearms, and full bellies laugh and chatter.
I sit near the middle, by a window, straining to see glimpses of scenery hidden by nightfall. If I concentrate on the flavors, I can still taste the hot, sugar-smothered beignets and savory chicken gumbo from New Orleans.
Sounds and smells from the Birthplace of Jazz are fresh in my mind. In the French Quarter, musicians serenade almost every street corner. I love music.
My soul quiets, yearning to worship. I pause my socializing and pull out my earbuds. I tap my phone impatiently. Moments later, a recording with triumphant brass instruments makes “Crown Him” come alive in my ears.
This isn’t the first time I’ve heard this song, a beloved hymn passed down through generations of Christ’s followers like an Olympic torch. The arrangement isn’t new to me either. I have it downloaded for offline listening. But tonight, it’s different.
The truth and power of the lyrics reach deeper into my soul than they ever have before.
Crown him the Lord of life,
Who triumphed o’er the grave,
And rose victorious in the strife
For those He came to save;
His glories now we sing,
Who died and rose on high,
Who died, eternal life to bring,
And lives that death may die.
Will I crown Him? Truly? Will I see God face-to-face? Yes! But how can someone like me see God’s throne room? I am a sinner, hypocrite, traitor, and enemy of God! Wait, that’s the whole point of the Good News! I know I don’t deserve even to see God or be near Him, let alone be loved by Him. The horror of my unconscionably sinful choices pierces me. Yet one day, because of Christ, I will crown my God!
I often tell people defensively that I don’t cry very often. In this moment, marveling at the love and majesty of God, I feel tears welling up. They slide down my cheeks silently. I, the sinful creature, imitate Christ, the sinless Creator. He became like me so I might become like Him. If ever there is reason to weep, surely Christ’s love is that reason.
While I am still learning to cry, I no longer doubt whether a man should. Christ’s tears cleared a trail for mine.