What Kind Of A God Would Die On A Cross?
A Prayer to the God Who Fell From Heaven
If you had stayed
tightfisted in the sky
and watched us thrash
with all the patience of a pipe smoker,
I would pray like a golden bullet
aimed at your heart.
But the story says
and so heavy was the tear
you fell with it to earth
here like a baritone in a bar
it is never time to go home.
So you move among us
twisting every straight line
stealing kisses from pinched lips,
holding our hand in the dark.
So now when I pray
I sit and turn my mind
like a television knob
till you are there
with your large, open hands
spreading my life before me
like a Sunday tablecloth
and pulling up a chair for yourself
for by now
the secret is out.
You are home.
This poignant poem is a prayer—about prayer itself. Everything turns on the question, What kind of God is out there? If it’s a distant, pipe-smoking potentate who observes our thrashing like a scientist peering through a microscope, then let that God die. In an astounding image, Shea sends a golden bullet prayer into the heart of that God. Only Job in his agony, only Abraham poised to slay his own son, only the broken hearted among us could load, cock, and trigger such an awful prayer. Yet all of us, in some moment, have felt this god-anger.
Then the poet lays down his soul’s weapon. For the God who fell from heaven, pulled by the eternal weight of a tear, is one who moves among us, “twisting every straight line into Picasso, stealing kisses from pinched lips, holding our hand in the dark.” Now his prayer is simply sitting in the Presence of one who can be trusted, who spreads a table before him. It’s the Twenty-Third Psalm. God pulls up a chair beside the thrashing soul and is finally home.
We first hear of the God who fell from heaven at Christmas—Emmanuel, God with us. But it is not until Good Friday that we understand what Love is willing to endure. Now we know that nothing, but nothing can separate us from the Love of God.
What Kind Of God Would Die On A Cross?
If nothing can alter this God’s love for you, how might you pray today?
Question #20 “Who Came Out Of The Empty Tomb?” comes Easter Sunday April 9.