Sunday, March 31, 2013

On Easter Morning

He is Risen!

He is Risen, Indeed!

This Resurrection morning my thoughts and thanks are simple. I'm telling Jesus Thank You for...

such amazing love for people

that He forgives me

for His humility

for His obedience

for the way He trusted His Father

that He has given me His righteousness 

that He made peace and friendship with God possible

All glory and praise to Him this morning and every day and forevermore!

I had this excellent reminder of Reality with a Capital R - the Reality of life in God's Kingdom. How easily I forget...

"Saturday was a long and dark day. Not only did the disciples hide in fear for their lives, but even worse, they grieved deeply. Soldiers had carried Jesus off to His execution the day before. Now their Master was dead, and the grief cut deeply, leaving them utterly hollow.

They had not signed up for this. Jesus was supposed to lead them to victory over oppressors, establish a strong nation, and allow them to bask in the joy of sweet justice. Pain and grief were not part of the package.

Perhaps you have felt like the disciples that dark Saturday. I know I have. Over a fifteen-month period, I experienced the deaths of a friend, two grandmothers, my father-in-law, and the church that we had planted, along with some other close calls. It seemed like everything around me was dying. I thought following Jesus meant victory and peace. All I felt was pain and despair. I wish I could say that I handled it with poise and dignity. I didn't. I toggled between numb denial and irritating doubt. I wondered if I was to blame and God was punishing me for something. Perhaps I'd been duped and the universe really was a cold, empty place.

...We feel this way because we forget an important truth. The way of Jesus is a way of pain, grief, and sorrow. Jesus suffered much in His life - even before His arrest and execution. As a child he had to be hidden in Egypt in fear for His life. He wept over the death of Lazarus. He grieved over the blindness of Israel. He agonized to the point of blood in the garden of Gethsemane. He screamed out as He hung on the cross, "My God, My God, why have You abandoned Me?"

Jesus told us it would be this way. In Jesus' final teaching, He said that God would prune the branches that clung to the Vine (John 15:1-17). Pruning hurts. To have large parts of your life severed is not a pleasant experience. Yet, as the Gardener knows, without pruning, there is no life.

That is the way of God's love and grace. God purifies us with pain.

...On Sunday, the disciples became aware of a reality far deeper than Saturday's grief. They met hope. Jesus plowed through pain and grief and came out on the other side. Saturdays will come, and they will be painful. But remember: without Saturday, we don't get Sunday. Jesus' love is our hope for today and forever. We will grieve, but with hope."

-Steve Thomason

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