Monday Morning Meditation: Every Day Can Be Easter

I’ve been reflecting this past weekend on the progression that occurred when Jesus died on the cross and was resurrected.

I really want to talk about that, but the focus of this post is:

Sunday came!

The tomb was empty!

No need to look for the living among the dead!

No more mourning! No more asking why!

A risen King! The fulfillment of prophecy!

These are all the things I thought this morning as I went for a short run, set out the Easter baskets, and drove to church.

Oh happy day! Jesus has risen!

Chains are broken
Shame has fallen
All my sins are gone!*

As I sat in church, I suddenly had the following thought:

Did you know that every day can be Easter day?

The good news of Jesus’ resurrection is good news every day.

Every day, we have access to the power that rose Christ from the dead (Eph 1:19-20).
Every day, we have new mercies available to us (Lam 3:22-23).
Every day, God is faithful, even when we are faithless (2 Tim 2:13).
Every day, God’s hope does not disappoint (Rom 5:5).

Every day, we have a choice to trust in God (Rom 15:13).

It doesn’t matter what happened yesterday, or if you, like Peter, denied Christ 2 days ago. Even Jesus’ death, which on Saturday looked like the end of the story, did not define His future.

There is an opportunity in every day for resurrection, new life – for freedom.

Do you need a fresh start? Grab on to Jesus’ hand. Rest in Him. Trust in Him. Believe that He wants to lead you onto new paths (Prov 3:5-6) and into new places.

See, I am doing a new thing! 
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? 
I am making a way in the wilderness 
And streams in the wasteland.
Isaiah 43:19 (NIV) 

Do you think the tomb on Saturday looked like a wilderness and a wasteland? Well, guess what? Our God turns wastelands into streams and wildernesses into ways. He also turns Saturdays in the tomb into empty tombs on Easter.

Every day, we can go to the cross. It’s empty. Jesus is not there. But that cross represents power; there lies the hope of new life.

Every day, we have the opportunity to be resurrected (Rom 6:5). Seize it.

*”To the Cross” by Paul Baloche

Freedom Friday: The Reality of Freedom

Yesterday, I read this, God’s Word through Isaiah (44:21-22):

“Pay attention, O Jacob,
for you are my servant, O Israel.
I, the Lord, made you,
and I will not forget you.
22 I have swept away your sins like a cloud.
I have scattered your offenses like the morning mist.
Oh, return to me,
for I have paid the price to set you free.”

The price has been paid. The cross is empty.

I keep telling you all that this season has been so challenging. I’m starting to think maybe all seasons are challenging, in their own way.

So many things are uncertain. No steady jobs, our home back in Boston still unsold, my father passing away, no beds or dressers or couches (but we do have a kitchen table!).

I’ve taken my father dying especially hard. I suppose that’s within the realm of normal. I’m not even sure during this time I’ve had the faith of Mary or Martha, as shared in one of my favorite Biblical stories (John 11). They struggled to see God’s power and promises through their tears of grief. While Martha stated that she believed Jesus could do anything, her words showed the unbelief that still lived in her heart.

When Martha first saw Jesus:

“If you had been here, my brother would not have died.”

When Jesus said Lazarus would rise again:

“I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”

And when Jesus asked that the stone be moved:

“But, Lord,” said Martha, the sister of the dead man, “by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.”

And yet, she believed in the midst of her unbelief.
I am Martha lately. I believe, yet often I act or think as if I don’t. I have lots of good excuses as well. I’ll spare you the details.

A few weeks ago, I tweeted:

Freedom is not a dream I made up; freedom is a reality Jesus created.

Freedom is real. It’s possible. It’s within reach.

Martha wanted to believe that freedom for her brother was possible, yet she focused on the appearance of what she could see.

I know freedom is possible. I’ve seen it, felt it, tasted it.

It’s time to get back to basics folks.

As I shared at a recent conference, a free person actively overcomes life-controlling issues through grace-inspired, spirit-empowered choices.

Spend time with the Freedom Giver.

Spend time with Freedom Seekers.

Embrace grace.

Think like a free person.

Act like a free person.

The reality of freedom is simple a series of good choices. One foot in front of the other, with God’s help.

Freedom Friday: An Opportunity to Believe

Wednesday was not my prettiest day.

I’m not sure how to describe how I was feeling. Forlorn is about right. Discouraged, sad, disappointed and disillusioned would work, too.

In the afternoon, I went out to run errands. I was headed to the post office, where I knew there’d be a long line. I was wishing I had brought a book to read, other than the Bible (which is on my phone).

I then told God I didn’t want to read the Bible while I waited in line because I was annoyed at the current state of affairs. I was feeling frantic and inconsolable about the way He was allowing things to play out.

Basically, I was pouting and doubting.

Then He spoke.

Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?

My breath caught.

I knew exactly the story where Jesus spoke these words. It’s one of my favorite stories in the Bible. I’ve taught from this story on numerous occasions, within diverse contexts.

It’s the story of Mary, Martha and Lazarus.

Jesus came to Judea where Lazarus had died and had been laid in a tomb. Mary and Martha were with Him at the tomb (John 11).

“Take away the stone,” he said.

“But, Lord,” said Martha, the sister of the dead man, “by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.”

Martha, who moments earlier had said to Jesus with such faith, “I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.”

When the time came to put that faith into action, she hesitated.

Jesus’ reply is recorded in the verse above that came to my heart:

“Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?”

Martha was being given an opportunity to believe.

An opportunity is just an opportunity. In every opportunity, there is choice.

Martha was given an opportunity to choose to believe, or choose not to believe. She could choose to believe that God is true to His Word, that He is who He says He is, and He will do what He has said He will do. Or she could choose to remain in confusion and despair and doubt.

We have the same opportunity.

How will we respond when God invites us to roll away the stone?

God, do You really want to open that door?

I think this is my response at times.

Because it’s cold and it’s dark and that’s where I keep my pain. That’s where I hide away the stuff I don’t want the world (or You) to see. The pain, the fear, the junk I hold on to – it’s been in there so long that it’s starting to rot. It’s so bad, God, that it has even started to smell in there. If You open that door, God: well, it’s not going to be pretty and it’s not going to be nice.

Since when was God’s power constrained by ugliness? The stench doesn’t bother Him. And He doesn’t care if it’s pretty or nice. Pretty and nice don’t encapsulate His objectives.

He wants to do something beautiful.

Can you imagine if Jesus had said, “Oh, Martha, you think it might smell in there? Maybe you’re right. We should keep it closed. I’ve always had a weak stomach.”

Not our Savior. Not the One who endured the ugliness of the cross.

And out of that ugliness, God did something beautiful.

“He has made everything beautiful in its time.” Ecclesiastes 3:11

When Lazarus came out of the tomb, his head, feet and hands still bound with grave clothes, Jesus said to those gathered, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.”

I imagine the people looked at Lazarus as one who was dead. Jesus saw past the grave clothes and saw one who was becoming alive.

Oh, how often I view my trials like this. I only see the death, the dreariness, the heartache and hopelessness.

Is this, too, how the disciples felt, as they watched Jesus take His last breath on the cross? As He declared, “It is finished,” and gave His spirit up to the One who sent Him?
Where had hope gone?

We are so short-sighted. Without death, we cannot fully appreciate life.
Sometimes, it’s us who have to die. Little by little, we have to lose our lives only to fully live.Where we see emptiness, hopelessness, death, Jesus looks at the same thing and simply sees its potential for life.

“I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows).” (John 10:10b AMP)

Oh, Lord, forgive my unbelieving heart. I want to see your glory in this opportunity to believe. Be magnified in my eyes and in my heart. Empower me to fully trust in You in this moment. You are able.

Keeping Feelings in Their Proper Place

On Saturday, I started thinking about Tuesday. That’s today, December 14, the day on which in 2002, I married my husband. The day on which in 2008, I found out I was pregnant with Bunny Boo, the baby who was born much too early and straight into God’s arms.

I don’t know why God allowed those two dates to be the same. It’s one of many times in my life that a date has significance for multiple reasons. Another example is the day Bunny Boo passed away: 4 weeks after we learned of his existence. It was on the same date my father’s parents, my grandparents, passed away, except my pebble baby died 1 year after my grandmother died and 40 years after my grandfather (my grandparents died on the same date, 39 years apart). And then my baby JJ, who wouldn’t have been born had Bunny Boo survived, is now 1. He was born on the same date that my aunt, the sister of my grandmother, passed away, just 1 year later.

I can’t say why God allows dates to line up like that. In this case, maybe He didn’t want me to forget. But on Saturday, I started feeling quite sad and very sorry for myself.

Then I decided to take some of my own advice. I decided to allow my feelings to be indicators rather than dictators.

I could allow myself to feel my feelings without choosing to wallow and drown in them.

It is absolutely OK for me to be sad that I lost a child. Absolutely. But often we start to feel bad and then we analyze and rationalize all the reasons we are feeling bad. We stare deeply into our feelings, gazing into each cell and picking apart every nook and cranny. We choose to dive straight into self-pity rather than allowing God into those moments: not only to give us insight but to allow them to be redeemed.

Deeply feeling our emotions is part of the healing process. But it’s not the end. Sometimes we have to stay in that place for a little while in order to learn that our feelings are valid, as many of us have been told time and time again not only to ignore and deny our feelings, but also that our feelings, our emotions, our reactions are just too big and too much.

That said, as much as we do want to recognize how we are feeling, we need to remember that our feelings are valid as indicators. If we dwell there too long, we can allow them to transform into dictators.

Today on this beautiful and painful anniversary, I will allow myself to feel my feelings, but I won’t permit them to engulf me. Instead, I can acknowledge that my feelings of grieve can coexist with my feelings of rejoicing in all this day encompasses.

Why Does God Let Babies Die?

That’s the question I asked Roy today. A woman on a message board I frequent lost her baby today. He was born not breathing, with the umbilical cord wrapped around his neck. He was revived temporarily, but went to be with Jesus last night. I had been praying for her little baby, for his complete healing, & for her family since she went into labor.

The family seems to be holding up as well as could be expected. They have 2 young daughters. Pray for them.

I look at my beautiful son, and my heart breaks to imagine life without him. It gives me a glimpse into the father heart of God, who spared no expense in sending His only son to suffer & die a horrific death.

Roy responded, “Why does God let anyone die?” Good question. There are no easy answers. The fact is we will all die someday. No one is exempt. Does it seem cruel & unfair to me that a sweet little baby boy should have to go to Jesus so soon? Yes. But at least he is not suffering anymore. For now, their little baby boy has received his complete healing and is resting in God’s arms.

Less than 7 months after this, I lost a child to miscarriage. I wrote an article about that experience: Bye, Bye, Pebble Baby

Stuff, Stuff & More Stuff

Much has happened since my last post.

We had a great trip down south to see family. It was a looooong drive, and not one I’d like to do again in the near future, especially with a baby & a dog!

A couple of days after we returned, I found out my beloved grandmother had a fall and had not woken up. She was 95. After 11 days on hospice care, with just oxygen, she passed away on Friday, 39 years to the day after her husband died. She was an amazing women! A mom, wife, pianist, organist, composer, and wonderful grand and great grandmother.

It’s snowing again. Trees have been knocked down, and people quite close to us have lost power. I’m planning on laying low, doing some cooking, hanging out with Baby Bear. I’m finally cooking a turkey I had in my freezer for a month & a half. This should be interesting as I’ve never cooked a turkey! I may also attempt an apple crisp.