Tuesday, April 10, 2012

That I will know

"Now Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb 12 and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot.
 13 They asked her, “Woman,[a] why are you crying?”
   “They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.” 14 At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus.
 15 He asked her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?”
   Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.”
 16 Jesus said to her, “Mary.” John 20:10-16 (TNIV)

On Sunday, testimonies were given.  One woman shared that like Mary Magdalene, her Jesus had been dead. She said, she had grown up in a religion which left Jesus on the cross and that eventually, she realized that she no longer believed.  Until she heard Jesus speak her name. Not literally, not audibly; but discernibly and she knew that He was alive. 

I shared yesterday, that I have struggled with doubt, that I have felt the emptiness, the loneliness of unanswered prayers.  Of a Jesus who seems absent at best and dead or nonexistent in the worst moments.

But, too, I have heard my name spoken by the one who is closer than a brother. And might it be that like Mary, there have been times, even, when I face Him and I don't recognize Him. When I weep, not realizing He is standing before me.

"Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles[a] from Jerusalem. 14 They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. 15 As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; 16 but they were kept from recognizing him.
 17 He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?”
   They stood still, their faces downcast. 18 One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, “Are you only a visitor to Jerusalem and do not know the things that have happened there in these days?”
   19 “What things?” he asked.
   “About Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. 20The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; 21 but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place.22 In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning 23 but didn’t find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive. 24 Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see.”
 25 He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?”27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.
 28 As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus continued on as if he were going farther. 29 But they urged him strongly, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them.
 30 When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. 32 They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”
 33 They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together 34and saying, “It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.” 35 Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognized by them when he broke the bread. Luke 24:13-35(TNIV)

Not recognizing him, still they urged him to stay with them.  Communing with him, their eyes were open and after his departure they realized they should have known Him.  "Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us...and opened the Scriptures to us?"  So it is with us.  Often we experience this heart burning and credit it not to the Source.  It is not until later we realize.  

In Mark 16:12-13 the same story says,   "Afterward Jesus appeared in a different form to two of them while they were walking in the country."

So though God is the same yesterday as today, could it be that because He can take on different forms sometimes we are so caught up looking for Him as He appeared to us in the past that we miss Him in the  present?

I pray the eyes of my heart will be open. That I will sit at the table He has invited me to and commune with Him.  That as Jesus' body was broken, and as He continues to break bread with me, to open the Scriptures to me, that the Word might come alive in my heart and my soul and that I will know that it is with Him that I daily walk.

Monday, April 9, 2012

He is risen!

At service last night, our pastor read from the Bible about the Last Supper. Today, I can't seem to find the specific version or gospel he read from but I thought I heard the words, 'Jesus looked at them'. And then it seems my mind finished that sentence with the words,  'with compassion' which is apparently somewhere else in scripture... but I think God knew that's what I needed to hear.  What I needed to take away from the sermon. This idea of Jesus looking at those he loved with compassion, knowing the pain he was about to endure but feeling their coming pain as well.  He knew he would soon be crucified.  That he would be placed in a tomb... and that it was going to look very bleak, very dark and very hopeless.

"It was just before the Passover Feast.  Jesus knew that the time had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father.  Having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of his love." -John 13:1 NIV

He then washes their feet, which is symbolic of the cleansing which we receive by accepting Him, made possible only by His sacrifice.  It shows, too, His servant's heart and is a lesson to us as to how we are to love.

But beyond this, I can imagine Jesus showering those He loved with His love, knowing full well the agony they were to endure in the next few days. He knew that they would feel abandoned and hopeless.  That they would doubt.  They would now question if He was who He said He was.

 I can sometimes identify with that hopelessness. That desperate plea of, "I want so much for you to be who you say you are."

There have been times in my life where I have thought, "God. I need you to be real. But I just don't know if you are."

These times come when to my weak eyes, all seems dark. And I'm not feeling his presence. I'm not getting answers.  The way ahead does not seem clear.  And so there's this need.  This emotion which becomes a prayer offered up out of hope, out of obedience: "I have  hinged my whole life on Your existence and Your truth. I am nothing without You. Oh, God, please be real."  

Jesus knew His disciples would experience something similar. He knows beforehand when I will.  But He also knew that right when it looked the darkest, and as if all hope was lost, He would rise victoriously.  He knew that the darkness was necessary for the miracle.  For the healing.  The Resurrection.

He tells them as plainly as He can.

 He says, "Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, trust also in me...I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to where I am going." John 14: 1,4 NIV.

 And his disciples debate him. Thomas basically says, "Uh, no we don't."

Jesus answers, "Believe me when I say that I m in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least in the evidence of the miracles themselves."John 14:11 NIV

I hear him say to me, "Try and remember when it's dark what you've seen. The miracles I've performed in your life already."

"Peace I leave with you, my peace I give you...Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." John 14:27 NIV

"Now I am going to him who sent me....  Because I have said these things, you are filled with grief. But I tell you the truth:  it is for your good that I am going away....I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear." John 16:5-7,12

And again they don't get it.  And He goes to the cross. And is buried. And they doubt, and they seem to forget what He told them.

And I, too, can forget. I experience these dark times where I feel like it's hopeless. Like maybe I had it all wrong. And I forget what He's done for me in the past. That He left with me peace, That it is all for my good.  That He cannot reveal it all to me right now.

But today, the day after we celebrated His Resurrection, I am reminding myself of past miracles. I am resting in the knowledge of all He has told me in the past. I am trusting that anything which appears bleak can be conquered by Him who conquered the grave.

Favourite photo monday

Sunday, April 8, 2012

If you feel like a little Edward Taylor

From:  Preparatory Meditations (Prologue)
“…If it its Pen had of an Angel’s Quill,
And sharpened on a Precious Stone ground tight,
And dipped in liquid Gold, and moved by Skill
In Crystal leaves should golden Letters write,
It would but blot and blur, yea, jag, and jar
Unless Thou mak’st the Pen,and Scrivener.
I am this crumb of Dust which is designed
To make my Pen unto Thy Praise alone,
And my dull Fancy I would gladly grind
Unto an Edge on Zion’s Precious Stone.
And write in Liquid Gold upon Thy Name
My Letters till Thy glory forth doth flame.

…Inspire this crumb of Dust till it display
Thy Glory through’t: and then Thy dust shall live.
Its failings then Thou’lt overlook, I trust,
They being Slips slipped from Thy Crumb of Dust.

Thy Crumb of Dust breathes two words from its breast,
That Thou wilt guide its pen to write aright
To Prove Thou art, and that Thou art the best
And show Thy Properties to shine most bright.
And then Thy Works will shine as flowers on Stems
Or as in Jewelry Shops, do gems.”

The Poems of Edward Taylor

Friday, April 6, 2012

Only Above

"The Lord knows the thoughts of man, that they are futile." Psalm 94 NKJV

Back in school after a long break, I've been spending an enormous amount of time reading. While I can't say that Christopher Columbus' letters or William Bradford's Of Plymouth Plantation 1620 - 1647
 have been my favorite pieces of literature I've been struck by the pervasiveness and sincerity of  the Christian Faith is the early colonizer's writing.

It's made me question if their's was a greater faith than ours. As a whole. As a people.

Their faith seemed to color the way they viewed their world in a much more tangible, trusting way than is easily evident today.

Reading, A Narrative of the Captivity and Restoration of Mary Rowlandson, I was touched by the simple way this woman's faith carried her through her ordeal. Held prisoner by Native Americans, she found great comfort in scripture, citing verses continually throughout her prose. Never did it seem as though she questioned God. She accepted her hardships and held onto a hope that God would deliver. And she portrayed this as though this was the most natural thing in the world. As if to question God would never have occurred to her.

Separatists and others who came to America for religious freedom also wrote in such a manner, as did poets such as Anne Bradstreet and Edward Taylor.  Bradstreet and Taylor both wrote poems regarding the death of children and both, though they expressed sadness, seemed to understand more easily than we can, that God both gives and takes away.

Perhaps, we live a life where we are spoiled (or blessed) in health and wealth and so when the rain falls on the righteous and the unrighteous alike, we become indignant.  With the distractions and the opportunities of life today, we must make a greater effort to include God.  And often when we do include Him, we rail on about the unfairness of the life he's given us.  Or maybe that's just me.

I know that of late, I have been seeking God's face. And I want answers.  Much of the time I'm not even sure what I'm inquiring of Him. Other than, "What do you want from me?" And maybe that's been code for, "My life sucks right now.  Explain yourself!"

But He doesn't have to. It rains.  On all. And perhaps I've forgotten to be content in all things. Maybe I've forgotten to pick up my cross.

And what better day to be reminded than Good Friday?

"Here's neither honor,wealth, nor safety; Only above is found all with security." -Anne Bradstreet

Faith Filled Friday

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

High school's never over....

So...just writing. I should be just reading.  My textbook. But writing is more fun.

Thinking about high school and how years afterward, it seems that Facebook can bring the drama of it all back in an instant.

In the movie The Jane Austen Book Club (I think that's the name of it) a woman is stressing about something and her husband reminds her that high school is over. She replies, "High school's never over!"  Facebook more than anything else makes me think this is true.  And I both hate and love that.  If that makes sense.  I hate that I can so easily be drawn in but apparently, there's a different side of me that experiences a crazy rush when the drama goes down.  The drama I try to stay out of but perversely enjoy watching.  I think the part of me which recognizes that I ought not be drawn in is the healthier side of me.

Just musings.

Does anyone else ever contemplate shutting down their Facebook? And then not do it?

Just Write

Monday, April 2, 2012

Three gifts white...and some others

- Taking breaks to draw with the kids..
- rediscovering the joy of shrinky dinks!
-remembering that "Easy does it!"
-black and white photos
-the wait this week and the passion
-white,billowy curtains
-a fat white comforter
-white high thread count sheets -a new luxury so worth it
-the safety of another person
- learning the truth