Sunday, October 28, 2012

Heavy Feet


So Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb. Both were running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. John 20:3

Can you draw a picture of Peter and “the other disciple” [John]? I cannot but when we see depictions of the apostles John is tall and lithe and Peter is shorter and burly. I don’t know why. I suppose it’s based on the men of the time and the attributes ascribed to each one in the Bible.  If we believe those descriptions to be accurate then it makes sense that John arrives first. Peter, chunky boy that he is, comes huffing and puffing bringing up the rear.  That could be why but today I’m wondering if there is another explanation.

Peter and John were both very close to Jesus. John stuck with Jesus to the last breath. Peter ran. He denied their friendship and then he ran and hid. Now, the tomb is empty.  Of course they want to see it for themselves. They want to know what happened. Where is Jesus if not in the tomb? So they both begin to run as one might suppose, their thoughts do as well. What would each one be thinking?

They were both with Jesus when he said that he that he would rebuild the temple in three days. As they ran I can’t help but wonder if their thoughts took that path. They are at three days later and what they know is that the tomb is empty. John most likely is excited. It can’t be real, can it? And yet, in his time with Jesus,  he’s seen so many things that didn’t seem possible.

Peter on the other hand might very well be a bit nervous. The last time he saw Jesus he was denying their friendship. Were the words “I don’t know the man” slowing his steps? Had Peter lost a bit of his eagerness? Was he thinking it might be better to let someone else get there first? In that moment, what words could he possibly think would be the right ones to say to the dear friend he’d betrayed? And what reception does he anticipate from that friend?

I have no idea why John got to the tomb first but today I am struck with the idea that it very well could be the feet of innocence versus feet leaden with guilt. Then I have to ask myself the question, how often have I let guilt slow my steps? How often have I neglected, just like Peter, to understand that the whole point of the Cross was that nothing, not one thing, not even my own guilt can separate me from the love of God?

Maybe Peter didn’t hesitate. Maybe you don’t either but I can assure you that I have. I have forgotten that it isn’t about me. It’s about Jesus and his sacrifice. Perhaps the foolishness isn’t so much in the hesitation that occurs because I feel unworthy. Perhaps the bigger problem occurs on the days when I foolishly believe that on my own I could ever be worthy.

Peter and John were running to the tomb to learn what we are also privileged to know. Jesus Christ did die on that cross but three days later he walked out of that tomb, clean, free and very much alive so that you and I can live clean, free very much alive and soaked in grace.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

"Daddy, Wha!"


 

And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ. Ephesians 3:17b-18

My little granddaughter Abigail, is at the perfect age. She is nineteen months old, chubby and absolutely adorable. She loves life and is as content to sit and watch as she is to get up and dance.  Whatever she’s doing, she does it with a sweet innocence and openness to the world around her that is the lot of life of children raised in happy homes by loving parents.
Abigail is very attached to her mama but when it comes to superheroes she has one, Daddy.

My son Jeffrey is a musician and encourages a love of all things musical in all of his children.  Abigail is a dancer.  If Daddy will make noise that has a tune and/or a beat, Abby will dance.  I commented about that to my sister, who then asked if Jeffrey could send her a video of the baby dancing.  He did and knowing I’d have to see it too, he sent it to me as well.

In the beginning before the future Dancing With the Stars winner begins her routine she looks right at Jeffrey, holding the camera and says, “Daddy wha!” or at least that’s what it sounds like. Apparently she is saying “Daddy what.”  So cute! Beyond cute there is a delight in her face. Clearly she knew Jeffrey was in the room with her but when she looks and sees him there her face lights up and she shrieks with delight.
This morning I was overwhelmed with the love of my Daddy, our Abba Father.  I wrote in my journal, “Abba, wow!”  I immediately thought of Abigail. She is delighted with Jeffrey, as well she should be, he adores her and he’s an excellent daddy to all three of his children.  My first thought was one of thanksgiving for Jeffrey, for Abigail, for her sister Isabelle and her brother Samuel. They have a great example of what a father should be which will make a relationship with their heavenly Father an easier one to build.

The next thing that grabbed my heart was the simplicity but unabashed joy with which Abigail greets Jeffrey. I thought then of how often I am taken by surprise by the presence or the sheer enormity of God’s love for me.  I can’t be alone in that.  How great it would be if when we are presented with the undisputable fact of the unconditional love of our Father if we would just look at him and say, “Abba, what!” It isn’t a question. As in, what are you doing here. It’s an expression of delight. As in, what did I ever do to deserve this? Our Daddy’s answer to us would be the same as Jeffrey’s to Abigail. Nothing, you’re just you. Now doesn’t that make you want to shriek with delight?

Monday, October 8, 2012

Jesus


 

Everyone who calls on the name of the will be saved.  Romans 10:13

 
Salvation is a funny thing.  It seems that it is often misunderstood. I know I’ve struggled in that area and sometimes still do. Although, praise God, that is rare these days.  When Jesus died on the Cross that was a once and for all sacrifice on his part. However, we need saving more than once. Now, I don’t mean saving in the sense of eternal salvation.  I mean saving from, as in one day I may need saving from fear. The next day or week it might be pride.  We have been saved by Jesus for eternal life. (John 3:16) but there is so much more to it.

Look at John 10:10 “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” When the thief arrives at my door, attempting to steal my peace he does it in various ways.  The success of those tactics is pretty much up to me. Just this week I’ve had several opportunities to, if not panic, at least get quite anxious. I am sad to say that even thirty plus years into my close relationship with Jesus my go to position is, “oh no!” Not good! Thanks be to God this week I have stopped, listened and spoken the name of Jesus and a word of praise. Guess who won? Jesus, of course.

I am human, flawed and forgetful.  I do not for one minute expect you to believe that I will never panic or become fearful again.  Like you, I will also experience God’s “no” and feel the disappointment that brings.  In those times I will try to remember that God sees the whole picture and that His ways are perfect, right and best. Given the progress of this week I am confident that the turnaround time from my next disappointment or “no” will be swifter but I can’t know that for sure. What I do know is that God is for us which means only a fool would come against us. (Romans 8:31)

Life on Earth is hard and it brings with it myriad opportunities for worry, fear, pride, and arrogance. The name of Jesus can strike those and any of their cohorts, down in less than a millisecond. Try it. The very next time you are willingly giving your peace to the enemy, to the thief at your door, say the name of Jesus. It’s great if you can quote a Scripture but it isn’t essential. Just say Jesus. Say it softly, in a whisper. Speak it in conversational tones or scream it out at the top of your lungs. Volume doesn’t matter, heart does. If we say that name, call it out like a child who is fearful or hurt yells, “Mommy!” then we will feel that unexplainable peace rush in.

Jesus. By his precious name we are saved, once for all, yes, but also over and over and over and over again.  The thief came to destroy and one failure, one million failures will not deter him. So answer him every time with the name that came to give abundant life, the name of Jesus.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Just Enough


Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,

your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

Matthew 6:9b-10

This morning I was reading about manna.  The message was describing the loving providence of God. It dealt with how our merciful God meets our needs. It was lovely but to be quite honest, my mind wandered elsewhere while I was reading it.

When the Israelites were in the desert they were given manna and they were told to gather just enough for one day. (Exodus 16:4-5)  Of course the Israelites were human and some of them didn’t exactly obey the directive which led to some pretty nasty results. (Exodus 16: 20)  The manna they held onto for the future ended up filled with maggots. Gross!

Thinking about that aspect of the story made me wonder why they didn’t trust God? He said he would provide food every day but they doubted…. Suddenly I became very uncomfortable with my thoughts as another Bible verse came to mind. “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”  Matthew 6:34.  Who looks unfaithful now Patricia? Oh yeah, that chick in my mirror.

This comparison came to me two days after I let the enemy run rampant in my head on his little “what if” unicycle.  I literally made myself sick over some what ifs. These are things over which I have zero influence let alone control. They are also things that may or very well may not occur. On top of that they aren’t any part of today. Oh heaven help me, I’m an Israelite! 

The passage from Matthew 6 ends with the words about tomorrow but it begins with the same admonition. “Therefore I tell you do not worry….”  (Matthew 6:25 emphasis mine) Worry is the child of unfaithfulness.  If I have faith that God is for me then I have to believe that he will see me through whatever happens.  When I don’t believe it I worry. Worry takes me away from God, as it has shifted my focus to myself.  I have then become egocentric  as opposed to Theocentric and that makes life hard.  

Like the Israelites manna there are areas in my life that are ugly, covered, theoretically in maggots.  Why ? I didn’t obey the directive.  God says, “trust me.”  When I don’t things get much harder and much more complicated.

The other day in a conversation with my son Paul I said to him, “You’re making this much harder than it has to be.”  Hmm… How easy it is to see it when it’s someone else, like my son, like the Israelites but not so clear when it’s me.

Today is a good day.  It is a gift from my loving Abba. Why would I want to waste one precious minute worrying about tomorrow or next week or next year? I suppose the answer is because I am as human as the Israelites and while I believe with all of my heart that God’s will is best there is that ugly little voice that asks, “but what if it isn’t what you want it to be?”  The answer to that is then what I wanted was wrong. If I follow his directives and stay close to him God will always provide for me, just enough and then some.