The Life Is In The Blood

It doesn’t get much better than 2am fires with friends gathered round, lively discussions, laughter. This is where we found ourselves a few nights ago. You can always tell you are with kindred spirits when you know that in less than 4 hours you will be waking for the day, and you just do not care. 

Our friend, Jason, somberly shared with us how his friend, a doctor, recounted an experience he had years ago.

One night, a young girl was brought into the ER. She had been in a tragic car accident and was bleeding out profusely. The girl was conscious enough for the doctor to inform her that she had less than 2 minutes of life left, and that if she did not consent to a blood transfusion, she would literally bleed out. The doctor shared this with her, fully expecting her to consent and say, “Give me the blood.”

Instead, this young girl looked at the doctor and said, “No.”

In disbelief the doctor said again, “You will die in a minute and half if I do not inject this blood into you.” Again, the girl replied, “No. I cannot do a blood transfusion.” At the time, the doctor had no idea she was a Jehovah's Witness and that it was against her religious beliefs. 

“You have one minute, and you will die,” he pleaded as the blood continued to flow.

He stood there IV in hand, waiting for the go ahead. “No,” she said. 

“30 seconds.” The doctor could do nothing without her consent. And there he watched her, bleed out, the life of blood in his hands right next to her.

As Jason shared this story, the Spirit whispered to my spirit:

The life is in the blood.

The Life is in the blood.

The Horror of Holiness

I think the reason this story resonated with me so deeply is because a few days earlier I read Leviticus 17:11:

“For the life of the body is in its blood. I have given you the blood on the altar to purify you, making you right with the LORD. It is the blood, given in exchange for a life, that makes purification possible.”

The life is in the blood.

Life is possible because of the value of the blood shed. The Israelites experienced figuratively what we now know effectually. Jesus, the spotless Lamb, bled on the cross for mankind.  He was the Great Offering. The animals sacrificed foreshadowed the coming of the Great Offering who would make the final and effectual sacrifice. Hebrews 10:4 shows us that “It is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins.” A perfect sacrifice was needed. 

The Latin root of “sacrifice” conveys the meaning “make sacred.” Without sacrificial death there can be no life. Without blood shed, there is no life. The sacred life of Christ provided sacrificial death.

Peter J. Schakel in his book Reason and Imagination in C.S. Lewis puts it this way, “This of course, is the essence of sacrifice: the setting apart ... of something perfect in the place of the imperfect thing which deserves to die.”

There is nothing reasonable about this kind of sacrifice. Schakel continues, The mystery ... reaches deep: at every level of being--the natural, the human, and the spiritual--life arises from death, and without death--sacrificial death--there can be no life.”

The life is in the blood.

And not just any blood, the blood of the perfect sacrifice. The horror of the Holy One being slain. This mystery into holy things is thick with mystery. C.S. Lewis masterfully describes this "horror of holiness" in his book Till We Have Faces, A Myth Retold:

“Much less does it give them [people] understanding of holy things. They demand to see such things clearly ... Holy places are dark places. It is life and strength, not knowledge and words, that we get in them. Holy wisdom is not clear and thin like water, but thick and dark like blood.”

Thick Religion

Ours is a thick religion. Thick with blood. Thick with love. Thick with the gift of the Great Offering.

How do I capture the magnitude of this truth? Shed blood brings life. It’s a paradox. A mystery of the greatest making. And yet, He bids me to come, drink of the blood and cup and live. There is nothing logical about blood shed producing life. But still ...

The life is in the blood.

C.S. Lewis describes our religion as “thick and clear” in his Essay Collection: 

Now if there is a true religion it must be both Thick and Clear: for the true God must have made both the child and the man, both the savage and the citizen...Christianity really breaks down the middle wall of the partition...it takes a twentieth-century academic prig like me and tells me to go fasting to a Mystery, to drink the blood of the Lord.”

The life is in the blood.

Maybe I need a little more thickness in my religion. A little more awareness of the savagery of holiness. Our God is a numinous God, not a god of the rationalists. We can’t put Him in a box. The holiness that hangs around him creates fear, induces awe. He is going to return to earth one day "dressed in a robe soaked in blood." (Revelation 19:11)

The divine mystery of sacrifice is non-sensical to human understanding. But I must sacrifice my understanding to see into the dark places where thick religion lies. To taste the blood, drink of the cup, receive the life of the blood.

How precious is the flow
That makes me white as snow
No other fount I know
Nothing but the blood of Jesus

I want to drown in this blood. I want a religion thick with the horror of the Holy. I want to insert the life-giving blood into my veins until Mystery becomes my breath.

The life is in the blood.


Momma to three pixies, Lyric, Brielle, and Zion, wife to a Viking-loving writer, daughter of the King. My blog reflects living the lyrics of the cross in the beauty of everyday. I hold a Masters in theology, but more importantly, I host several barn owls in the second acre. We are all about breathing deep here and soaking in the glory of life.