What Would I Have Done?

During Passion Week a couple of years ago, as I reflected on the meaning of the Cross, I invited God to search my heart. This poem is the result of my ponderings.

If I’d been there, Lord,
What would I have done?
How would I have responded
In those final, terrible hours?

Would I have been like Peter,
Seemingly so strong,
Claiming to follow You anywhere,
But proving myself weak,
Denying You and fleeing?

I’m afraid I would have been a non-committal friend,
Protecting myself,
Loving myself more than You,
Following You – but only from a distance,
Watching You – but not getting too close,
Keeping some of my heart to myself.

Would I, perhaps, have been compelled
To help You, drawn in by Your compassionate eyes,
Offering a sip of water to the Living Water,
Not considering what they might do to me,
Only thinking of You and wanting to help quench Your thirst
In return for satisfying mine?

Or, like the thief on the cross,
Would I have seen Your purity in sharp contrast to my sin,
Black and white juxtaposed side by side,
Boldly asking You to remember me in Your kingdom,
Knowing what I really deserved?

Would I have loudly proclaimed my innocence
For all the world to hear,
Like Pilate, who thought he could just wash his hands
Of any guilt in Your bloodshed,
Or like Simon of Cyrene, who said he’d help carry Your cross
As long as everyone knew he wasn’t the least bit responsible?

Would I have been like the Roman centurion,
Who little by little began to see You for who You are,
God made flesh,
Until the blood and water that flowed from Your lifeless side –
From the place where he pierced You himself –
Washed over him and cleansed him?

Oh, Lord, please tell me I would not have been one of the masses
Who mocked You, jeered at You, threw stones at You,
Cowards going along with the crowd,
Swept along by the blind mob.
Would I have been like them?
I beg You, tell me no!

Is there even a chance I would have stayed true,
Remaining with You till the end –
Like John, Your mother, and Mary Magdalene?
I wonder, what made them so different?
How could they stay when all the others left?

Was it because John had laid his head on Your chest at supper
Just the night before, listening to Your heart beat?
He knew You loved him,
Knew it to the core of his being.
He even called himself the “Beloved.”
Your love changed him.
Nothing else mattered.

Was Mary Magdalene able to remain close by your side
Because she remembered where she came from?
She knew she was forgiven much;
Set free to love You with abandon.
Gratitude for what You’d done for her,
That’s what propelled her.

And then Your mother, Mary, had cultivated a lifetime
Of simple obedience, trusting in God’s goodness and power
Even when it made no sense.
And it didn’t make sense to a young girl, a virgin,
Told by an angel that she would carry You, yet able to say,
“Be it done to me as You have said.”
Did that trust sustain her as her heart was breaking?

I don’t know how I would have responded.
Not really.
I can only hope.
And I can let You reshape me.
Make me more like Jesus.

Lord, You know my heart better than I do.
What’s in there, deep inside?
What would I have done if I’d been there?

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