Responding to The Resurrection

We went to a Third Day concert the other day and there was this awesome singer named Harvest Parker there who stole the show. She told a story about the Moravian missionaries (who were so awesome that this doesn’t do them justice, btw) who sold themselves into slavery to reach a group in the West Indies who would not allow preachers or missionaries in. As they were heading out, with no hope to ever return, someone passionately yelled, “May the lamb receive the reward of His suffering”, which seems to be a summation of Revelation 5 and is also the summation of our celebration of the resurrection, and of Jesus in general. We are unworthy to receive His sacrifice, but He gave it to us anyway. He did it because He loves us and it’s the only way to cleanse us in preparation of eternal life with Him. But our job is not just to receive from Him. It’s to glorify Him in all that we do! Here’s a link to her song, which is very moving (the one in Tallahassee was even better but I didn’t get the whole thing on my phone).

The Lord was already working on my boldness when I heard that, and it was reinforced there. This verse below was also so important to me that I couldn’t let it go:

“My eager expectation and hope is that I will not be ashamed about anything, but that now as always, with all boldness, Christ will be highly honored in my body, whether by life or death.” Phil 1:20

Lord, do not let us be put to shame. Our faith is weak, our evil desires are strong, and the pull of the world is powerful. But You are mighty. When we are yoked with you we can do all things through you, and we ask that you will show this to your enemies. Do not let our humanness put us to shame, but guide us and go before us so all men see your power through our testimonies.

Our pastor at Four Oaks, Paul Gilbert, said, “if your conscience isn’t clear you don’t make a good witness”. Lord, thank-you for forgiving our sins, for dying on the cross, and for returning from the grave three days later–thereby fulfilling the prophesies and completing the transactions of submitting your righteousness and bearing our sin. By your stripes we are healed, we are fully forgiven, clear our consciences and guide our steps away from the sin we so readily return to. Help us to be bold for you, to be strong and courageous, and to share your love with meaning and truth!

Lord, help us to trust you with our lives, and with our deaths. Help us to recognize that we are not our own, and to earnestly desire to be used for your glory, whether your plan takes us to the cross or to the mall. Help us to be real, living sacrifices for you, and to go wherever you send us, with perfect peace and profound love. Your way is the only way we desire.

Because, “my eager expectation and hope is that I will not be ashamed about anything, but that now as always, with all boldness, Christ will be highly honored in my body, whether by life or death.” 

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In the Moment

Before Jesus came, people were expecting the Messiah to come and become a literal king of Israel, to free them from the physical powers and harm that were inflicted upon them. Then he came along and some people rejected him as a fraud, or because he threatened their way of living. For others he filled in the blanks, changed everything they thought they knew. For those people, there were lots of great moments that reinforced their new beliefs. There was some confusing talk about the future. Then he was killed. His body lay dead, like any other mortal–much ado about nothing.

I imagine the letdown and confusion they felt. It must have been the ultimate slap in the face to his followers. His body was in the tomb for three days. I wonder how many hours or days it took them to re-frame their understanding of the Messiah into the fact that he had died. We know that on the third day, when those ladies went to prepare his body, they weren’t expecting the tomb to be empty. But I imagine that they still had that tiny bit of hope that the story wasn’t really over.

Believer or not, I expect that everyone who has brushed up with mortality can relate to how the followers felt during those three days that Jesus’ dead body lay in the tomb. They had been flying high with the clarity and freedom He brought. He took away the laws they hadn’t even realized they were chained to and opened their eyes to the spirit behind the law. And suddenly overnight he had been killed. His enemies seemed to have won. Their worlds crashed in around them and everything they thought they knew was wrong. It didn’t make any sense and there was no one left on earth who could clarify it for them. Haven’t we all been there? Don’t we all dream of being able to rewind time to the way it was before that moment? Then finally, we think we get some resolution. We stop dreaming of things like that, but He surprises us in better ways. We go to do the hardest thing ever, like anointing his body, and instead find an empty grave.

He is risen!
Luke 24:1-49

Remember

This week we celebrated Naomi’s first birthday, Naomi’s first steps, Yaacov’s birthday, and Easter. It all makes me think back to the past. I can’t help myself. This time last year I was so tired from having a new baby, but there was so much promise for our future. We had all the normal goals and plans that people have. We didn’t even bother praying for our physical health because it was so far from our minds.

Now I’m consumed and preoccupied by health. Or lack thereof. I know God healed my metastases, but I don’t really know what that means. Did He leave the tumor just to make sure I could relate to other people who have to go through all the treatments? Or was it just to show me He’s listening and loves me but I’m still going to die? I will say that’s rhetorical, if I’ve learned anything through this process, it’s His answer to questions like that. If you’ve followed this blog from the beginning you can chant it with me, “Do not worry about tomorrow for tomorrow will worry about itself. Today brings enough troubles of its own.” Mth 6:34.

I didn’t have much time to process the BRCA1 (genetic mutation) issue that caused my cancer in the beginning. Unfortunately, I found that time recently. I’ve been trying to figure out whether I can wait a bit before having my ovaries removed, but instead I keep finding bad news about the kind of cancer I have and what my girls will be faced with. All I can do about that is pray they won’t have the gene and that treatments will return by then.

I’m meeting my radiologist Thursday, but if things go as expected I’ll have surgery in 7 weeks, then start radiation after that. I won’t be able to have the immediate reconstruction anymore. It could be up to 2 more years before the reconstruction, which I’m struggling with. Just one week ago I thought I’d be entirely done with cancer treatment in less than a month, so this is another downer. However, at the start of this no one would have promised me a reconstruction because they figured I’d be dead by then. But this is such a whirlwind these are just the things I use to convince myself to be happy. It’s a little harder than I wish.

Anyway, all this ties in to Easter (oh, right, this is one day I shouldn’t be talking about myself!), and the reminder of what I need to do. When the disciples noticed they were out of food to feed people, they started trying to figure out what to do. Didn’t occur to them to go straight to the source. Jesus said, “Why are you discussing that you do not have any bread? Do you not yet understand or comprehend? Is your heart hardened? Do you have eyes, and not see, and do you have ears, and not hear? And DO YOU NOT REMEMBER? When I broke the five loaves for the 5,000, how many baskets full of pieces of bread did you collect?” Mark 8:17-19.

I need to remember. Remember the sacrifice He made 2000 years ago. Remember the healing He did for me 2 months ago. And everything in between. He is the great I AM, who is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. He is unchangeable, unbreakable, slow to anger, loving, and gentle. He is the God I worship and will honor, no matter what the cost.