I was doing something very dangerous yesterday- flying down Pine Street on my bike listening to Rich Mullins with my headphones in. It was dangerous in 4 ways:
1) The obvious safety hazard of riding a bike without being able to hear 2) The scorn I could receive from my musically cool friends for listening to the often “cheesy” christian recording artist from the eighties 3) The potential embarrassment when people notice the tears that I burst into 4) The crumbling darkness around us as I saw God’s light breaking through.
Here’e the lyric and video of “A Steal at Any Price” from Pictures in the Sky (1987). If you really want to go with me here, listen though to the first chorus and read along with the lyrics. Then keep reading more of my experience as rich sings on.
He sees a frozen shadow
Cold in the neon flash
He sees the ghost of a chance in her eyes
He longs to take her away
To a place where love can last
Without all these memories
Of all the emptier loves in her life
‘Cause He knows how bad it can get
And He sees her lose
Though she pays her dues
She still winds up in debt
And the night cracks
Like a whip in her heart
She looks into the light
He takes her out of the darkness
He’s a thief in the night
As Rich hung on the “Heeeeeeee’s” I was bursting across 18th street. (“A thief in the night”) All of a sudden the world opened up into the light. I was exhilarated- the unseasonable freshness of the morning, the speed of the bike and the reality of God’s love for me- all of it- coalesced in a revelation. All of a sudden tears were streaming from my eyes and I remember having the thought as I even surprised myself with a couple of sobs that my sweat was masking the tears and saving me from any undo attention… and yet, at the same time I was glad to be a fool. (“His love is a steal at any price”) I was so glad to look around and see all these others on Pine Street on whom God could also sneak up to take away from our desperation and darkness.
Rich went on to the second verse and reminded me “‘Cause he knows how bad it can hurt.” I know how bad it can hurt. Jesus knows how bad it can hurt. Do you know how bad it can hurt? I think you do. By the time I was crossing Broad Street my moment was passing and I was stunned in gratitude for a minute or so of God’s grace sneaking up on me. I was thankful to be reminded that Jesus is with me and all the people around me, and I am with Jesus when I am with them. I felt the longing that Jesus has for us. I felt my own longing to be made new–to be stolen from the emptier loves in my life–and confident that many others feel it too and might turn with me to the light.
So I share this revelation with you. Jesus’ love is a steal at any price, and apparently we are too. The price Jesus paid for us is greater than any other. No other death has resulted in light. So, “today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.” (Hebrews 3) Respond to the light that is shining in your darkness and the darkness around you. Cherish the costly gift you have received. Give thanks for the thief in the night, because if we had to make this stuff up on our own it would never happen.