Saturday, March 30, 2013

He's Alive!

 “Afterward Joseph of Arimathea, who had been a secret disciple of Jesus (because he feared the Jewish leaders), asked Pilate for permission to take down Jesus’ body. When Pilate gave permission, Joseph came and took the body away. With him came Nicodemus, the man who had come to Jesus at night. He brought about seventy-five pounds of perfumed ointment made from myrrh and aloes. 
Following Jewish burial custom, they wrapped Jesus’ body with the spices in long sheets of linen cloth.The place of crucifixion was near a garden, where there was a new tomb, never used before. And so, because it was the day of preparation for the Jewish Passover and since the tomb was close at hand, they laid Jesus there.” ~John 19:38-42 NLT

Today is the day before Easter...the day before Resurection Sunday. 

As I reflect quietly with God over what this day must have been like over 2,000 years ago, it's hard for me to think about Jesus in the tomb and not feel the deep pain that death has delivered to my own heart. 

Death is such a boastful cares not if you are rich or poor...loved or lonely...Death always boast a loud victory over all of life...and Death's greatest desire is to destroy forever the hope and joy in those who are brushed aside in its wake.

I can too easily imagine the great sorrow felt in Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus as they wrapped Jesus' body in linens and laid our Lord inside that tomb. I imagine that before they left the tomb's cold walls, they briefly looked back and saw their Hope and Joy was laid beside Him as well. The stone was rolled and death covered over their hearts with crushing force.

Dark days...dark thoughts...darker future. It seems death has conquered the Unconquerable...Life loses to Death.

Than something amazing happened! Three days from Jesus’ last
breath ...the Truth was revealed...the stone rolled away...Death had no victory after all...Jesus was alive! Jesus IS alive! Hallalujah!

Hope and Joy left that grave too...both revived thru the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. We need not fear death's sting nor believe its deceptions that our loved ones are gone from us forever. Jesus made the way for us to be forgiven of all our sins and dwell with God our Father. How?  

By simply accepting Jesus is the Son of God...who died on the cross for the forgiveness of our sins...that whomever will believe in Him...shall not perish but have eternal life! 

"Because He lives, I can face tomorrow,
Because He lives, all fear is gone;
Because I know He holds the future,
And life is worth the living,
Just because He lives!

And then one day, I'll cross the river,
I'll fight life's final war with pain;
And then, as death gives way to vict'ry,
I'll see the lights of glory and I'll know He lives! 
- Bill Gaither Because He Lives lyrics

“Early on Sunday morning, as the new day was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went out to visit the tomb.
  Suddenly there was a great earthquake! For an angel of the Lord came down from heaven, rolled aside the stone, and sat on it His face shone like lightning, and his clothing was as white as snow.   The guards shook with fear when they saw him, and they fell into a dead faint.
  Then the angel spoke to the women. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I know you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead, just as he said would happen.” ~ Matthew 28:1-6 NLT


Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Hiding in the Dark

"While he lived on earth, anticipating death, Jesus cried out in pain and wept in sorrow as he offered up priestly prayers to God. Because he honored God, God answered him. Though he was God’s Son, he learned trusting-obedience by what he suffered, just as we do." 
~ Hebrews 5:7-8 The Message

When I was a little girl I was afraid of the dark.(Truth be known...I was afraid of the dark long into my adult life too!) Sooo, growing up, I would make sure my bedroom door was cracked open so that the light coming from down the hallway could peak in and allow me to “see” in the dark. As I got older and lived on my own I continued this habit by leaving a light on outside my darken bedroom. After I was married I felt “safer” in the dark....but discovered that a bedside clock gave off just enough light to dispel the darkness without disturbing my husband’s preference for sleeping in a darkened room. fear of the dark did not return when my husband died. Instead of feeling frightened and anxious of the dark...the utter blackness now beckoned and invited me to come live in it. 

I never knew what “living in” real darkness was until Brad's death threw me deeper into it's depths. I never imagined I’d want to run into it’s bleakness...but that is what I blindly rushed towards in trying to hide from the light of my crushed spirit and all my broken dreams. 

It was soon after I had exhausted myself from my attempt to escape the light that glared into my overwhelming sorrow and grief that I discovered I had sat down in a place that seemed too deep and far away from any source of light to help lead me out. I had little strength left and my faith to climb out of it’s dark cold grip was just as weak. I thought I was alone with only darkness to cover me...

It was in this darkest time, when my world had gone black and I could not find my way...that I heard the Lord call my name. As I reached out to The Lord weeping expressing all my pain...I prayed...asking for Him to deliver me from one more breath of more heartbeat of sorrow. I asked Him to take away the circumstances I was in and change the course of my future as I saw it...for to life had no redeeming purpose anymore.  

"While he lived on earth, anticipating death, Jesus cried out in pain and wept in sorrow...”

Do you have any idea what it means to me to know that Jesus understands my darkest thoughts and my heavy burden of sorrow? When Jesus prayed the night before his crucifixion in the Garden at the Mount of Olives...the Bible tells me that His tears were falling from the pain of sorrow He was feeling. 

Now, I’m not suggesting that my dark hours should be held next to Jesus’ sacrifice. But I do believe I can take from His dark hours in that garden...that God’s mercy delivered an angel full of light to stand watch over His Son and comfort Him as He prepared to do His Father’s Will. Darkness cannot hide it’s menacing dissuasion from the light of God!   
In my days of great sorrow Jesus did the same for me. He was faithful to break the dark and shine His light so I could "see" He was with me. His presence comforted me and His promises gave me the courage to look at Him and listen for His voice to trust Him to lead me (and stay with me) into the spacious place He had already prepared for me to go. 

Unlike Jesus that night in the Garden...I often took my eyes away from God and back on the darkness that threatened to consume me...But Jesus would not let go of me...even when I let go of Him. His light could not be dimmed by my lack of faith...for He is always faithful to His own. He refused to allow the darkness to hide me (even when it was my prayer that it would) and He always reached out for me and lifted me up into His saving arms of mercy until I was strong enough to take the next step with Him beside me. 

...When I discerned God's light shining into my darkness...I don't recall those moments bringing "happiness" back into my life. What it did bring was relief from my fears and calmness to my anxious thoughts. The steady Light of Christ renewed my hope which lifted my spirit from total despair allowing His joy in me to become my joy in Him. 

God is patient and His love never fails...even in the dark! 

Psalms 139:1-18 
  Lord, you have examined me
    and know all about me.
2 You know when I sit down and when I get up.
    You know my thoughts before I think them.
3 You know where I go and where I lie down.
    You know everything I do.
4 Lord, even before I say a word,
    you already know it.
5 You are all around me—in front and in back—
    and have put your hand on me.
6 Your knowledge is amazing to me;
    it is more than I can understand.
7 Where can I go to get away from your Spirit?
    Where can I run from you?
8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there.
    If I lie down in the grave, you are there.
9 If I rise with the sun in the east
    and settle in the west beyond the sea,
10 even there you would guide me.
    With your right hand you would hold me.
11 I could say, “The darkness will hide me.
    Let the light around me turn into night.”
12 But even the darkness is not dark to you.
    The night is as light as the day;
    darkness and light are the same to you.
13 You made my whole being;
    you formed me in my mother’s body.
14 I praise you because you made me in an amazing and wonderful way.
    What you have done is wonderful.
    I know this very well.
15 You saw my bones being formed
    as I took shape in my mother’s body.
When I was put together there,
16 you saw my body as it was formed.
All the days planned for me
    were written in your book
    before I was one day old.
17 God, your thoughts are precious to me.
    They are so many!
18 If I could count them,
    they would be more than all the grains of sand.
When I wake up,
    I am still with you.