The Catholics totally get this right, though. They reflect and prepare their hearts each year and give this it's due place in our personal history. I, with my protestant self, have done better about this in the past. This year, as I said, it kind of snuck up on me, though. As James Macdonald said, "Only in retrospect can we look back and call this "Good Friday." " Well, it hit me on Good Friday this year that it was almost Easter and we have much to celebrate. Something came over me and I got my music out and got my worship on. Jesus' birth is a beautiful scene and it's easy to get into the "Christmas Spirit". His death, though, is horrible....and beautiful. It's beyond worthy of even more passion. I went back through each scene and what I got stuck on was how lost His followers were after His death. Their plight resonated with me almost like I hadn't read it before.
Yesterday, I couldn't help but think, "If I were to put myself in the place of Jesus' disciples on day 2 of His death, how would I have felt?" I'd be in the midst of some major despair, lost, confused, and terrified. That was not the way it was supposed to go down. He was to become King, right all the wrongs, so forth and so on. He certainly was not to die a brutal, horrible death! They must not have known which end was up at this point. Yet, God was working. As I look at the news and the terrible acts committed both at home and abroad, it would be easy to feel lost and afraid. Yet, as dark as things may seem in our world sometimes, I know He is working.
Prime example: We had a pastor from the Middle East as a guest pastor a couple of weeks ago. He said that as ugly as ISIS is...and it is ugly....it's because of ISIS that Muslims in Pakistan, all along the Afghanistan border, are leaving their faith and committing their lives to Christ in UNPRECEDENTED, HISTORIC numbers. They've never seen anything like it. Even in the midst of immense darkness, suffering and upheaval, God is doing FAR more than our small minds can fathom.
How quickly I can turn to despair and forget that He is always working FOR us, not against us. Is that not common to most of us? Even in the least dire of circumstances, worry creeps in. ANXIETY takes over. Anytime the least thing threatens our children, our plans, our finances, our dreams, or even our comfort, we quickly forget and turn to despair instead of Jesus. I don't blame His followers for despairing the night before what we cheerfully now call, "Easter." It was a situation worthy of despair. His death was brutal and ugly....and they never fathomed that would happen. They didn't have the full picture of the cross like we do. Maybe some of our situations are worthy of despair, too, and we just don't have the full picture. Yet, we have promised, everlasting hope this side of the cross. Could we stop so easily forgetting our hope?
Beyond Jesus' death and resurrection, nothing in Scripture illustrates this for me like Ezekial 37, The Valley of Dry Bones. It's my favorite passage in the Old Testament. He restored those dry bones, complete with new tendons and flesh, then resurrected an army out of them. DRY BONES, people....He was working with DRY BONES. The chapter goes on to describe how He will restore Israel and the new "covenant of peace" He will have with His people. Enter....Jesus.
So, this Easter, in our daily anxiety, frustrated plans, or even in our own valley of dry bones or despair, may we be freshly reminded just how much we are loved and remember that NOTHING is beyond His restoring, resurrecting power to bring about good. Today, I can't think of anything "gooder", as my little Jude would say, than my sin debt being paid in full and the hope that whatever goes on in this world....thanks to Christ's sacrifice for me....it is not my home.
With much love, I wish all of you "peeps" near and far, a very Happy Easter!!
"For God SOOO loved the world, that He gave His One and Only Son, that whosever believes in Him, shall not perish....but have everlasting life." ~ John 3:16
"The thief comes to steal, kill, and destroy. I came that they may have life, and have it to the full." ~ John 10:10