March 29, 2013

Good Friday

Good Friday is such a special day. In the Christian faith, it is the triumph of love and self-sacrifice, an affirmation that the basis of the universe is a God who loves us as completely as it's possible to be loved. In addition, the crucifixion is the culminating event of God's incarnation: we are never as corporeal, never more situated in our mortal bodies, as when we are in pain. It's an answer to the question, Does God know how suffering feels? Because if he did, he couldn't possibly allow it, could he?

The question has never been stated more poignantly than in this song by the Christian singer-songwriter Rich Mullins. Rich was killed in a car accident when he was in his early forties. He had already written a handful of Christian pop classics, and after his death, a demo tape was found in his belongings. It consisted of ten songs he had recorded by himself in a church nine days before he died. His friends published the songs in a two-album set. The first CD consisted of the rough demos recorded by Rich in the church. The second CD consisted of renditions of the songs recorded by his friends.

The demo version of "Hard to Get" is one of my all-time favorite songs, and it specifically references Good Friday (in the lines about friends falling asleep, as Jesus's disciples famously did as Jesus prayed and sweat blood the night before Good Friday). The song is available on Amazon, YouTube, etc.; just be sure that you get the demo version by Rich, and not the recorded version by his friends.


You who live in heaven
Hear the prayers of those of us who live on earth
Who are afraid of being left by those we love
And who get hardened by the hurt

Do you remember when You lived down here where we all scrape
To find the faith to ask for daily bread
Did You forget about us after You had flown away
Well I memorized every word You said

Still I'm so scared I'm holding my breath
While You're up there just playing hard to get

You who live in radiance
Hear the prayers of those of us who live in skin
We have a love that's not as patient as Yours was
Still we do love now and then

Did You ever know loneliness
Did You ever know need
Do You remember just how long a night can get?
When You were barely holding on
And Your friends fall asleep
And don't see the blood that's running in Your sweat

Will those who mourn be left uncomforted
While You're up there just playing hard to get?

And I know you bore our sorrows
And I know you feel our pain
And I know it would not hurt any less
Even if it could be explained

And I know that I am only lashing out
At the One who loves me most
And after I figured this somehow
All I really need to know

Is if You who live in eternity
Hear the prayers of those of us who live in time
We can't see what's ahead
And we can not get free of what we've left behind

I'm reeling from these voices that keep screaming in my ears
All the words of shame and doubt blame and regret
I can't see how You're leading me unless You've led me here
Where I'm lost enough to let myself be led
And so You've been here all along I guess
It's just Your ways and You are just plain hard to get.

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