On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, "Peace be with you." John 20:19
Peter, John and Mary had just been to the tomb. It was empty. Peter and John went home confused. Mary hung around weeping with grief until she heard that sweet voice say her name...."Mary." The resurrected Jesus revealed himself to her and sent her on to tell the other grieving disciples that their grief could end, "... but go to my brothers and say to them, 'I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'" Her heart full, she carried that message with joy, "I have seen the Lord," she told them in verse 18.
At this point the disciples know that the tomb is empty, they have heard Mary's story. One would expect them to be filled with joyous anticipation, "Wow! He's risen! What do you think He has planned next?" Yet, in verse 19 we find them locked away "for fear of the Jews." What happened?
I'm not judging them, I can empathize... My family and I have just experienced miraculous events to bring us to a new home in a beautiful area on the coast. Undeniably, miraculous. The details surrounding our move were covered with God's fingerprints. Yet, yesterday when the doctor called and said that for some baffling reason, I am still testing positive for mononucleosis even though it should have been cleared away months ago, I felt that fear, what if it never goes away? What if every day I am feverish, achy and sick? I tried to pray, tried to keep in perspective, but I did not sleep well for fear of.... And yet, I have that resurrected Jesus living inside of me. Where is my joyous expectation of, "All things are possible with God; I wonder what He is going to do?"
My dear friend, can you relate to what I am saying? What is your for fear of? Are you afraid of never getting well, or facing another day with pain, depression or anxiety? Maybe you are facing a more hidden fear, your spouse has proven himself/herself untrustworthy and you wonder what will happen to you and the kids. Maybe it's for fear of not finding a job, never getting married or having children or failing at whatever task that has been placed in front of you. Whatever it is, we are not alone... we have hope, we have Him.
Once again, I pray for His grace to fill us so that we can lay down those fears. In verse 20, He came and stood among the disciple (entered through locked doors) and said, "Peace be with you." He lives inside of you and I and says, "Peace be with you."
Father, we once again entrust our lives to you. We thank You for the ways that You have shown Yourself faithful and for the fact that You are no matter what we see or feel. You are our peace. We embrace you and relinquish these fears to You. You alone can handle them. You alone know the future. Father, help us live this day without fear, help us to live as you created us.
Tuesday, November 8, 2011
As I sit feverish and achy, I look around my house and see all that needs to be done by Friday - moving day. The enemy sees a chance to reek havoc with discouragement. My Faithful Father sees a chance to show Himself strong.
At times such as these, it is all too easy for me to lose perspective of what really matters. I turn on some worship music to help regain my focus.... Chris Tomlin's, "I will Rise." One line stands out, "Jesus has overcome..." And there it is, Jesus has already overcome. No matter my circumstances, it has already been done. I don't want to sound trite, but I can say it no other way: nothing else matters. The to-do list fades, the full cupboards stop screaming at me. My Faithful and True has already made provision for every need. Jesus has overcome.
If you have a moment, close your eyes and have a moment of worship with me:
Saturday, November 5, 2011
Deliverance – Part 2
Ah, that sweet word again. We left the Israelites with the promise in Exodus 14:14, “You need only be still. Let the Lord fight for you.” They were starting to believe that their hopes of deliverance were, literally, about to be drown in the Red Sea. But, God did indeed fulfill His promise of deliverance out of captivity from the Egyptians in a most amazing way.
Some of us may experience deliverance through an all out, unquestionable miracle from God. Others of us may experience deliverance with some help from a doctor, therapist or by other natural means. And some of us will have to wait until Heaven to experience the deliverance we long for. None of us knows when our Red Sea will part. The question I always seem to trip over when pondering that is, what do I do in the meantime? Do I pray in faith, expecting every morning to wake up healed? Or do I simply wait for God, in His sovereignty to heal me?
This may be a simple question for others, but this one has tripped me up for a long time. I would pray, I would receive prayer in accordance with James 5:14-15, I would fully expect my miracle and I would leave still sick. As you may have experienced yourself, this can be a bit disillusioning. I know God still heals, I know He still parts the Red Sea, I’ve seen Him do amazing things. So….where is my deliverance?
God promised the Israelites deliverance from captivity. He also promised us deliverance from our afflictions. The Israelites had to wait a long time to see that promise fulfilled. Many of us are waiting a long time too. Just as His promise in Exodus 14:14 was true, His promises of healing in Isaiah 53:5 and 1 Peter 2:24 are still real. Just as He parted the Red Sea, He will deliver us from this sickness, this pain, this affliction. He alone knows the timing. Trusting Him with that timing can be so hard, especially when the wait is long.
Even as I write this, I have a low fever, my body aches and I would like to lay my head down for a rest. I enjoy glancing at some mommy oriented blogs in my down time. But, times such as these, it feels like a reminder of everything I’m not doing: the healthy, home cooked recipes, the creative home schooling ideas, the character building service projects. Yep, around here, it’s more like “let’s lay down and read a book together,” or “show me what you guys can build with these leggos.” (As I sit here and watch and do the bare minimum to make sure nothing too terrible happens.) My point here is not to whine, but to say, I don’t want to live like this, I want this season to be over. I am doing all I can to recover: I am praying like the persistent widow in Luke 18, I am going to a doctor and a nutritionist, but I am learning to surround all this with surrender to Jesus.
Some of the things that we can rest in and know to be true in this waiting:
1. Hebrews 11:6 Faith pleases God. Even when it seems to be fruitless, it’s not. It pleases Him.
2. Luke 18:1-8 Jesus encourages us to pray even when we want to give up.
3. Isaiah 55:8-11 God is sovereign and at the end of the day, we can trust Him to do what’s best.
Beloved, I do not have answers. But, I understand how hard it is to cry out to Him day after day and feel that the Heavens are brass. May I remind you that we are in good company, the best of company? David prayed it in Psalm 22, Jesus prayed it on the cross, we often pray it in our affliction, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” Yet, David ended that Psalm with recognizing God’s sovereignty, “For kingship belongs to the LORD, and he rules over the nations,” and by declaring that God’s goodness will be proclaimed to generations yet to be born. And, we know how Jesus finished His prayer, “Father, into your hands, I commit my spirit.” Luke 23:46
I pray that we would each have the courage and grace to follow their example and entrust our lives to Him whose very name is Faithful and True (Revelation 19:11). When that beautiful day comes, and we gaze upon His face, we will be glad that we did.