Before we are who our families meet,
and our friends know,
and our partners embrace,
we are complete.
Completely made ready
by the One who was and is and ever will be.
Can the end of our days ever be welcome?
A just dessert,
a welcome respite,
a final resting place?
We are created to reach beyond the end,
to grasp even for that which we cannot see.
Touching it completes us,
even as it loved us completely
This is what we ask ourselves when events like the recent crash of the German passenger plane happen. Or bombings at a marathon finish line. Or shootings at numerous schools. Or museums. Or places of worship.
We are faulty, we humans. But are we at fault? Can we help ourselves?
A pastor friend once remarked, the line between good and evil is drawn straight through every human heart. Yes, I feel this potential in me. Perhaps that’s why these atrocities hit “home.” Because I can see the possibility alive in me to do what I know I should not do, perhaps in a way that is permanently destructive. In this temptation toward evil, I must continuously choose good.
What if our mind is confused about which one is which? What if the truth is so veiled that all we see is evil and it is masquerading as good?
I am told — and the Bible says — that Jesus died to save me from my sin. That I can come near the One who is completely Good because the separation between us, the cleft of sin, has been banished. But what of my heart – the one I so very well know – that is part good and part evil? How can I turn from my own faulty choice to God’s will?
The truth is, anything that turns me away from the Absolute Good is evil for me. That turning is different for each of us, because different temptations beckon. Absent this awareness and I am the pilot. I am the bomber. I am the shooter.
While none of us alive today heard Jesus speak when He walked the earth, His death and risen life made way for the Spirit of Christ to open our ears to the divine command, “This is my Son whom I have chosen. Listen to Him!”
Lord, quiet the clamor which shouts you down and the internal chatter which drowns you out. Help me to listen closely and only to You. Amen.
“I’m not leaving his side.” This is the expression of love. A love so deep that it proclaims, nothing is separating us. I am staying right here… in case he needs something, in case he hurts, to prevent him from getting lost or wandering away, so he won’t be confused or lonely. This is the language of love and devotion.
How must it have felt to Jesus to leave those he loved so dearly? Those who had loved him and been his closest companions. Those whom he had ministered to, taught, mentored, loved. These with whom he had laughed and cried, eaten, slept, prayed, walked, and sat in silence. These with whom he shared his final hours around a table where bread and wine became body and blood. What must it have been like to know that your leaving will cause overwhelming grief, mourning, pain and sorrow? To anticipate this pain and yet, agree to go?
Perhaps this pain was even greater than that inflicted by those who derided, flogged and crucified him. Perhaps this was why he asked this cup be taken, why his prayer evoked drops of blood. He longed to stay with those he loved. What reason could there possibly be to separate a love like that?
Only one: to prepare a place for us, all who love him, so we can be where He is. The only thing greater than a love like that is a Love Like That.
I sit mesmerized by our choir singing powerfully of the lamb of God slain. Crucified, dead and buried. We emerge in the silence of the dark night. As I sit in my car waiting for traffic to clear so I can make my way home, I wonder at what I’ve seen and heard. A dinner with friends so closely followed by denial and death. This speaks so loudly of the way of this world. Why do I force myself to sit before the sights and sounds of Good Friday? I know this story; it slays me.
The parking lot begins to clear and I power up my car to make my exit. I have inadvertently left the radio on and its lyrics shock the silence. “God’s not dead he’s surely alive,” croon the Newsboys. I smile to myself, then sing along. “He’s living on the inside, roaring like a lion…” I even turn up the volume a bit as I pull past the few remaining cars, motioning one woman driving a mini-van into the line ahead of me.
I wonder if she or the parking attendant in reflective orange who is directing traffic with orange-glo sticks can hear me and the Newsboys. Can they see me smiling and singing along? Probably wondering about me.
The way I see it, why wait? The weight of three days has already been lifted. God’s not dead; he’s surely alive.