The Death I Deserved

iuCongratulations to our Lenten writing contest runner-up, Megan Davis, whose poignant artistry in applying Psalm 40 to her own life remains unparalleled!

In the dark, I silently cried out to any god who might listen, “Let me succeed at this.” I snuggled my teddy bear close to me and quickly fell into a deep sleep. It was not until the next afternoon I realized that I had failed yet again. I had failed my family. I had failed my friends. I had failed too many classes to get a diploma. I had failed my gods. And now I had even failed to die. 

“My iniquities have overtaken me,
and I cannot see;
they are more than the hairs of my head;
my heart fails me.”

Why had the death I deserved not been granted to me? All the things I had done, all the things I had left undone still needed paid for. I had tried to pay for it in my own blood, but there had never been enough.

And so days passed on. The debt still had to be paid, how could I pay it? Scenarios flashed through my mind, each one quickly answered with how they would also fail.

One morning, a thought suddenly split open my mind like a single brilliant flash of lightning crossing a dark sky: “It’s not up to you if you live or die. It’s up to God. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, just like Mr. Redding taught you softmore year.” This new thought poured through my body. That God? The real God? Not up to me? 

“Be pleased, O Lord, to deliver me!
O Lord, make haste to help me!”

Suddenly a little bit lighter, I walked up to my room. I sat on my bed and pondered what this meant. I still deserved to die, but it wasn’t my responsibility. I cried, “Please Lord, send a bus hurtling my direction,” but began to make some plans just in case I had to live. 

“You are my help and my deliverer;
do not delay, O my God!”

Thus I went to community college, made up the credits to get my diploma, and began work on an Associates. I applied myself to therapy. I got a job. Months later, in a writing class I met a kind and intelligent young man. We fell in love, and he asked me to marry him. Immediately, I started imagining our wedding. Would it be on the beach, or maybe the mountain? I asked my fiancé where he thought we should have the wedding. Suddenly looking a bit bashful he replied, “Well I always thought I would get married in my church.”

“You go to church?”

I had been in churches a handful of times as a girl and to the liturgies of my Catholic high school, but I wanted to know about the faith that had helped form my soon-to-be husband. He was Lutheran, and his church’s liturgy was very similar to those of my school days. The hymns and preaching were deep and interesting. So when the pastor offered new member classes, I was eager to learn more but had no intention of becoming a member or even being baptized.

Twelve weeks of classes took about six months to get through. I loved the deep respect and logic the Lutherans gave to the Bible and appreciated their well-thought-out doctrine.

Then one day, I discovered that I believed it. 

So I asked to be baptized.

Nearly two-and-a-half years after that dark night, I stood in the light of morning in front of an eight-sided wooden font. Guided from an old red hymnal, I declared my faith and my desire to be baptized. 

“I have told the glad news of deliverance
in the great congregation;
behold, I have not restrained my lips,
as you know, O Lord.
I have not hidden your deliverance within my heart;
I have spoken of your faithfulness and your salvation;”

The sign of the cross was made over my head and chest declaring Christ’s death for me. I bent over the font, and water was dribbled over my head in His name, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The death that I knew I deserved was finally given to me, the debt was paid in full. 

“He drew me up from the pit of destruction,
out of the miry bog,
and set my feet upon a rock,
making my steps secure.
He put a new song in my mouth,
a song of praise to our God.”

I stood up. The weight I had carried so long was gone. And in its place was something new. For He gave me what I had not dreamt to ask for. He gave me life. He gave me His resurrection. 

“I waited patiently for the Lord;
He inclined to me and heard my cry.”

By Megan Davis