So last week one day I was driving home from work listening to the radio. Carrie Underwood's new song "Something in the Water" came on. I'd heard it before but it hit home that time for some reason. If you haven't heard the song, it starts off with a guy telling a girl about Jesus, and in the process he tells the story of how someone introduced him to Jesus. "Somebody said what I'm saying to you, opened my eyes, and told me the Truth, he said just a little faith, it will all get better, so I followed that preacher man down to the river and now I'm changed, now I'm stronger.. there must have been something in the water."
I love the song, and I love country radio for playing it. I thought about the song every day for almost a week. The thing I kept coming back to was how instantaneously the man in the song's life is changed. The next verse is the girl's first prayer (a few days after the encounter with the man) which is "God if you're there, come and rescue me."
One thing I love about a typically protestant understanding of faith is their emphasis on how your life changes after you meet Jesus. Looking back through the Gospels we see so many instances of people who physically met Jesus and made a decision to change their lives forever: John the Baptist, Peter, Andrew, all of the apostles, the woman at the well, the cripple at the temple gates, the righteous sinner on the cross next to Christ.... even Pontius Pilate, I think.
One nod of the heart towards the Lord and he meets us exactly where we are. (Cue Matt Maher's song Turn Around, "if you're scared that you don't matter, if you're lost and you need to be found, if you're looking for a Savior, all you gotta do is turn around.")
Something that the protestant understanding of the faith is lacking (in most cases) is the need for habitual repentance and conversion. Just because your life is changed forever once you meet Jesus doesn't mean that you're perfect and you'll never sin again. He knows we're fallen, He knows we need continual grace.
In Mass this weekend (yes, I go to the Lifeteen Mass, and yes, it's because I can't wake up in time for the others.), the communion song was an oldie but a goodie, "Better is One Day." It says, on repeat for about twenty minutes, "Better is one day in Your courts than thousands elsewhere." To be blatantly honest, I have no idea what it means. If anyone does, feel free to chime in. As I was praying through the song though, I was thinking of the "courts of the Lord" in terms of all of the "rules" of the Church and all the ways that we break them.
I'm so often told that the Catholic Church oppresses my sexuality, my femininity, my modernity.. my whole life really. But I don't feel oppressed or even burdened in the least bit by any of the commands of the Lord, because I have the joy of knowing Jesus and knowing that He loves me enough to come down from Heaven just for a shot at spending eternity with me in the arms of the Father. When you know a Love like that, those rules are just life long guidelines for maintaining that Love. One day with that Love, even if His commands were multiplied one hundred fold, is still better than a thousand days anywhere else.
His yoke is easy, and His burden is light.
May the God who raises sinners from the dead have mercy on us.