This friend, I’m telling you. I could listen to her till the cows come home, read every word she writes. Angie Smith never imagined she would be a Bible teacher, and it’s possible that’s exactly why she loves it so much. After being invited to a Bible study during her graduate school years, she realized how hard it was to understand Scripture as a story and she decided to set up shop in the kids’ section of her local Christian bookstore. She started with picture-only Bibles and then continued to toddler-aged, middle school and teenage versions. The idea that everything in the Bible was related and not just a collection of choppy chapters was revolutionary to the way she experienced God and His Word, and she’s passionate about communicating that same simplicity in her writing. It’s a grace to welcome Angie to the farm’s front porch today…
So, I bring these pieces, and thousands more, everywhere I go. Pieces of a quilt I planned to make our daughter, Ellie, and never did.
I found it tucked up in a closet and I cried – one more thing to add to the list of ways I feel like I’ve failed her and her sisters.
It seems there are pieces everywhere I turn in my life and it has begun to weigh me down – am I a good mother? Have I ever been? Look how much I missed or didn’t soak in the way I could have. And it’s gone.
Pieces of me leaving home to catch a plane. Losing my temper and saying words I can’t take back. Missing a soccer game. Not being present in conversation, forgetting to bring class snacks. Trying so hard to earn their respect and approval.
Maybe I’ve missed my chance. I am weeping, staring at the pieces.
Ellie walks in and sees what’s on the floor. I’m ashamed and crying and I start to explain that I meant to – I really meant to. She looks around the room, studies the triangles and squares, and smiles at me.
“I never knew you were going to make me a quilt. I can’t wait.”
How much guilt are we carrying unnecessarily?
How many of the things we use to judge ourselves as mothers are pieces that don’t need to be sewn in order to do this thing well.
I’ve got to let go of them and believe I did the best I could. Which, incidentally, might just be enough.
He wants us to learn from Him and to have hearts that are humble enough for Him to teach and brave enough to trust Him, to love us even when we get it wrong.
He didn’t come so that we could get all the answers right.
His plan is so much better than that.
Our Jesus, His arms are stretched wide and His legs are pinned together. Through slits He can see the crowds below Him. He can taste the blood in His mouth before it slips over swollen lips, falling onto hallowed ground.
“Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.” Luke 23:34
If they had, they would have known that it was the blood of life and not of death.
He has been with them. He has eaten meals with them and walked their dusty roads. He knows what it’s like to love them in His humanity – just the way anyone else would.
It’s easy to recite stories we’ve heard time and time again without giving them a chance to breathe; Jesus didn’t just come to die for us; He came to live with us.
For three years He traveled with His disciples – we know that much. We can likely name at least a few of them, but we can know the facts without understanding the story.
Have you ever stopped to think about what their lives must have been like?
They were together all the time, night and day. They weren’t just flannel-board characters; they were men who knew each other well.
They probably had running jokes about which had the smallest bladder and which one snored. They teased each other, I’m sure – maybe because they all knew who was most likely to be flirting or getting lost. There were intimate moments between them that never made the red words of the Bible – in fact, an overwhelming majority didn’t. They shared late night conversations and embarrassing moments.
One would deny knowing Christ three times and another would betray Him with a kiss.
And Jesus knew it would be so.
He knew He would be abandoned, ashamed, and admonished.
But He came to live with us anyway and He died for us in spite of it.
As His body shook in agony, His mother stood close enough to hear Him but not close enough to touch Him. All she could do was watch helplessly as the thorns pressed into His forehead and His bruises began to change color.
She used to scratch the back they are whipping.
He was the toddler who ran around barefoot in the grass and learned to put His head underwater.
He was the three-year-old who laughed until His stomach hurt and loved being thrown in the air.
He was the five-year-old who begged for bedtime stories and forehead kisses.
He was the seven-year-old who ran to His father when he came home from work and woke up before the sun.
He was the nine-year-old who was brave enough to walk to a friend’s house but looked back at His mother the whole way as she smiled and waved Him on.
He was the ten-year-old who decided He was too old for bedtime stories and public hugs and never knew that His mother cried because it meant He wasn’t a baby anymore.
No one could possibly have known what she did; not in the same way. He is the One we have been waiting for.
But relationships will be defined differently now – they are bound together by their faith, and His role in her life is changing.
He isn’t her Son in the same way.
“My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” Mark 15:34
It is the only time on earth Jesus doesn’t call Him Father; in this moment He isn’t His son in the same way.
As He surrenders to His Father, He cries out with a loud voice, uttering some of the last words that would hang in the air after His human heart stopped beating.
“It is finished.” (John 19:30) He shouted and then took His last breath.
He fulfilled all of the prophecies of a coming Savior. He lived a perfect life for us because we never could.
At that very moment, the sky went dark and the sun failed to shine. The ground shook and rocks split.
Historians have noted that there was an extraordinary eclipse of the sun at exactly that time. They said the stars in heaven could be seen and that an earthquake shook the world.
Hundreds of years before this, hyssop branches were raised to paint blood over His chosen people’s doors, marking them as His own so that they would be passed over when the last plague swept through.
Pass over us, Jesus.
During His crucifixion, a sponge of wine was placed on the tip of hyssop branch and raised to His mouth.
Pass over us, Jesus.
The blood of a Lamb, covering all who would believe in Him.
Pass over us, Jesus.
While the sky was dark and the ground was trembling, something else happened; something that would change the course of history in an instant.
A great sound echoed from inside the Temple.
It was the sound of a seamless curtain being split in half from top to bottom – from heaven to earth – nevermore to separate us from our one true Passover Lamb.
I confess – I don’t always live my life in ways that reflect this reality well.
I often find myself grabbing at whatever pieces I can reach, trying desperately to make something beautiful of them and forfeiting the peace that comes from believing He already has.
Lord, help me hear the tearing curtain when the world gets loud. Let me remember that I’m not forsaken or forgotten.
Remind me that You are, and will always be, the God who came near to us so that we could come near to You.
Blessed be Your name…
Angie’s Bible studies? Might just be the most life-changing I’ve ever experienced.
Angie is married to Todd Smith, lead singer of the Dove Award winning group Selah.
And she is the best-selling author of the bible study Seamless: Understanding the Bible as One Complete Story, as well as two children’s books and several books for adults including Chasing God and What Women Fear. She holds a Master’s degree in Developmental Psychology from Vanderbilt University.
Matchless: The Life and Love of Jesus is an 8-session Bible study intended to go beyond the simple facts of Jesus’s life and truly see the Story of the Savior.
It is Angie’s belief that Jesus came not just so we could learn about Him, but so that we could know Him. He didn’t just come to die for us. He came to live with us.
I gathered my girls and my neices for Angie’s study, Seamless: Understanding the Bible as One Complete Story — and maybe no time better than the strange, matchless season we’re all in now to gather in any way we safely can to begin Matchless and enter into the matchless life and love of Jesus.