Saturday, August 27, 2011

Sunday is Coming

I have loved history my whole life. When I was preschool age I asked my mom if she had been alive when Abraham Lincoln was president! I am sure she appreciated that. But one of the things I love doing is trying to put myself in the shoes of those who lived in history. Not with the 20/20 hindsight I have now but then what they must have felt knowing just the limited facts they did. I have been thinking a lot about the disciples and women who followed Jesus. What did they feel like on Saturday? Thursday had been a day of preparation and then the wonderful passover feast. Then the horrible events of Friday that had culminated in the death of Jesus. Their friend, teacher, the man they thought was the messiah. They were sure he was. He had done so many wonderful things.
Saturday morning they woke up, or at least got out of bed. Sleep had alluded them. Their eyes puffy, red and dry from crying. The faced the first day of loss. The congregated together in the upper room. Looking around they realized that no one had cleaned up since Thursday. They begin to stack dishes, throw away food that had spoiled. They looked at each other and in hushed whispers asked What do we do now? Where do we go? Do we go back to fishing, tax collecting? Do we go back to the Temple? What exactly happened to the curtain? All day they just did what had to be done. The were in shock and the future looked uncertain and bleak. They went to bed that night without hope, without a future, without joy.
Then they were woken by these mad women! What were they babbling about? He has risen. The hope flooded back. He was telling the truth! He is the Messiah! He appeared to them. He restored broken relationships between he and Peter. He commissioned them. He loved them!
Sunday was full of hope but none of that was possible without the hopelessness of Saturday. If Jesus had not died the resurrection would not have been necessary. If Jesus had not died a horrible, painful, hopeless, joyless death and let the Disciples sit in their hopeless, joyless state, the resurrection would not have been life giving, hope giving or joy giving. 
Without hopelessness in our own lives, hope has no meaning. Without periods of pain and joylessness the beauty of the resurrection would be lost. While death is never easy it brings about new life. Without Saturday, Sunday never comes. We must experience pain to understand the joy Christ brings. We must experience death to sin to understand life everlasting. We must experience Saturday's bleakness to understand Sunday's radiance. You might be living in Saturday but know with out a doubt that Sunday is coming!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Death that Brings Life

John 12:24 -Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.

Death is never easy. Those who are left behind to deal with the arrangements, the feelings and the day after will attest to this. My first encounter with death came on December 28, 1981. A phone call in the middle of the night informed my parents that my Grandmother had died suddenly in her sleep. In a frantic daze my dad woke us up and got us and my shocked mom into the car. A fast car trip and we arrived at my grandparents home. My grandmother was still in her bed. My Aunts were crying and my grandfather was trying to respond to the EMT and the Coroners questions. The week that followed was filled with arrangements and spending a lot of time at my grandparents home. I was not allowed to attend her funeral but this first experience with death established family patterns that would be observed every year for the next 12 years. My large extended family shrank a little more each year. 
Death does not necessarily mean the lose of life. Death could mean the lose of a job that you have spent you life at. It could include the lose of your spouse or the ideal marriage. It could be the lose of a goal or plans you had for your children. It could be the lose of a friendship that you had come to rely on. While these deaths don't always include the loss of a person they are still painful. In many regards we may not know what prompted the lose but that does not make it less painful. 
In John 12:24 we are given the hope that through death new life can spring forth. With that in mind ask yourself the question, What in my life needs to die so that new life can spring forth? Is it the death of what you always thought your life would be? But holding onto that dream is keeping you from enjoying what your life actually is. Is it the death of a relationship or aspects of the relationship that is keeping you from experiencing love and joy that God has for you. Maybe it is the "but we have always done things this way" that is keeping you from experiencing a new program that will bring the changes in your life God is looking for. When we refuse to allow death in our lives by holding onto those things that are comfortable and don't upset our world we are not giving new life, new love, new joy a chance to live in our lives. 
Death is never easy. It always involves giving up that which we hold dear. But through death we can experience new life. So ask God where you need to experience death.  Then be willing to let him work through your pain to bring about new life. It will be well worth your effort.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Songs of Life

Growing up I was exposed to all different types of music. I learned hymns at church and praise songs at camp. I was exposed to oldies in the car rides around town and developed a love of Sinatra in my dorm room. My life story has its very own soundtrack. When I think of certain events I hear the song that I associate with them. My Dad's funeral is accompanied by It is well with my soul. The Adoption and birth of my children Etta James At Last. When I think of Jr. High its with Bon Jovi in the background.

Recently, as I have been going through a tough time in my life, I was finding comfort in the hymns of my youth. Until the day I was running an errand and heard a song on the radio that felt like God was speaking right to me. It was not on the Christian radio station but the country station I heard this song. As I have listened to it over the last few months I realized that it was speaking the truths of God and the promises of Scripture to me. The words of the song  are below under them I have included the scripture that it words remind me of. I pray that these verses encourage you and bring you hope.
So let me share it with you:
Rascal Flatt's: I won't let go

It’s like a storm
That cuts a path
It breaks your will
It feels like that
(Matthew 8:23 Then he got into the boat and his disciples followed him. 24 Suddenly a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. 25 The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!” 26 He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm.)

You think you're lost
But you're not lost
(Luke 19:10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.)
On your own
You're not alone
(Matthew 28:20 And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.)
I will stand by you
(Psalms 109: 31For he stands at the right hand of the needy, to save their lives from those who would condemn them.)
I will help you through
(Psalms 40:1 I waited patiently for the LORD; he turned to me and heard my cry.
2 He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.)
When you’ve done all you can do
And you can’t cope
(Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength)
I will dry your eyes
(Revelation 21:4 He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain.)
I will fight your fight
(II Chronicles 20:17 You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the LORD will give you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the LORD will be with you.)
I will hold you tight
( Isaiah 41:13 For I am the LORD your God who takes hold of your right hand
and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.)
And I won't let go
(John 10: 28I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. 30 I and the Father are one.”)

It hurts my heart
To see you cry
I know it’s dark
This part of life
Oh, it finds us all
But we’re too small
To stop the rain
Oh, but when it rains
(Romans 8:38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord)

Don’t be afraid to fall
I’m right here to catch you
I won't let you down
It won't get you down
You're gonna make it
Yeah, I know you can make it
(Isaiah 40: 28-31 Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. 29 He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. 30 Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; 31 but those who hope in the LORD   will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.)