February 17, 2015
I sit at my kitchen table, holding a cup of coffee warm to the touch. I look out a double-paned window and see fresh fallen snow. The sun gleams bright on the blanket of white.
And yet. All I can see is red. Crimson blood flowing hot and sticky into the vast expanse of a dark ocean. Men in orange, tiny crosses tattoed on their wrists, kneeling on wet sand, beheaded by men in black. These "men of the cross" carry resolute faith to their dying breath. Their eyes are full of a holy love the men in black cannot yet see. The eyes of the cross exposed. The eyes of hatred and evil cowardly hide behind wrapped tight masks. The photo portrays a moment frozen in time, but I imagine the horror. My heart races and I feel helpless for these innocent men, heart-broken for their loved ones. Secretly glad it isn't me.
March 30, 2015
I shuttle rapidly growing boys back and forth to the orthodontist on a Monday afternoon. The fourth grader doesn't mind missing band, but begs me to get him back for recess. My eighth grader (ironically the third of my four children to undergo the "brace-face" procedure) doesn't mind missing a few classes, or really the entire afternoon. Fearing social suicide, he needs at least a day to prepare himself for the onslaught of relentless junior high scrutiny.
While I dutifully wait out each appointment, I scroll through Facebook. I intended to "get some things done," but since I didn't give up Facebook or Instagram for Lent, social media becomes the drug of choice.
I see photos of families "spring-breaking" on the ski slopes or (more enviously) at the beach, adorably coiffed kids celebrating birthdays, friends on mission trips and reviews of latest reads. I scroll through pictures and "like" at my leisure. Easy-reading at its best. There are other posts, however, that don't sit so whimsically nonchalant. Words and photos that, if I choose to loiter, hook my emotions as I sit in the sterile waiting room.
I see a friend I re-connected with at a high school reunion struck by insufferable grief as she buries her 21-year-old son. I see a dear childhood friend carrying life within her for the very first time at the age of 42. Tragic death and miraculous life, all in one newsfeed. The shock of utter sadness for one, bursts of glorious joy for the other.
How does one hold this tension on a Monday afternoon?
My mind harkens back to the day on the beach. The one when the Coptic Christians uttered the word, "Jesus" as they breathed their last and I realize, yet again, there is absolutely no human remedy for such profound emotion. There is no bank big enough, no invention flashy enough, no technology tele-porting enough to catapult us up or around or over such places. At some level must walk through them. For that, there is only the cross.
A symbol hewn from the roughest of wood holds both life and death in its perpendicular proportions. A weekend, three-days, that's all it took for ugliest of sin to be thrown into the pit of hell and for heaven to split wide-open and pour out overflowing grace and mercy, free for the taking to all who hunger for such things.
This weekend, millions of Christ-followers from around the world will come together to celebrate Easter. For some that looks like a ham and asparagus and a plastic Easter egg hunt, for others it looks like Brahms Requiem on Thursday, watching The Passion of the Christ on Friday and sunrise service on Sunday.
No matter how you choose to celebrate (or not) this weekend, the real question is, "What does Easter look like on Monday?" After the family goes home, the nice dishes put away and the kids' chocolate bunnies are eaten down to the tail. When you're sitting in the dentist's office, or in your cubicle, or coordinating carpool.
What does faith look like in those regular, ordinary moments? How does it become new and real and fresh like it was just the day before? Might I suggest we take another look at the cross? And the best part is -- this doesn't have to be sterile or stagnant or dull. It can be a combination of so many life-giving things!!
-- a first-look at the morning sunrise -- a brisk walk with worship music blasting in your ears -- settling into your favorite chair and zeroing in on a passage of Scripture -- a hug from a loved one -- coffee with a friend -- an exercise class -- giving someone a cup of water in Jesus' name -- you name it! The love of the cross is embedded in the fabric of this world, in who we are and the world God created. We only need eyes to see and ears to hear -- of the spiritual kind.
Andrew Murray, suggests our "first and chief need is fellowship with God...To this end, let your first act in your devotion be a setting yourself still before God. In prayer, or worship, everything depends upon God taking the chief place. I must bow quietly before Him in humble faith and adoration, speaking thus within my heart: 'God is. God is near. God is love, longing to communicate Himself to me. God the Almighty One, Who works all in all, is even now waiting to work in me, and make Himself known."
Yes and amen! What on earth are we waiting for...?
How do you refresh and renew your faith in the midst of the mundane? Or perhaps harder still, in the most confusing and confounding places in life?
Sometimes it feels like life is long and marathon-ish and other times, (like when my baby boy is all of the sudden a 5'11" Freshman in high school) life feels hyper-fast and that I'm missing so much.
I love how your words wind and bend just like our lives do - just like faith does. We need Easter. It doesn't have to be the day to eat/buy/consume or just a day to break out the floral pantsuit. 😬
Truly, it can re-shape & re-soften our hearts for living True life - both the mundane and the intense.
Happy Easter, all! He is risen!
There are a lot of different themes in this post. From the darkness and evil of ISIS, to peoples' daily celebrations and woes, to remembering Easter and all that comes with it, to remembering Easter, right on past Easter. For me in this very moment, I am realizing that I am letting myself feel the impact of Good Friday (even after being a Christian forever, I still, embarrassingly, have to check to see if Good Friday is the day Jesus died . . . it is, BTW). It is not because I'm picturing Jesus dying on the cross or anything like that, but it's because I have had such an amazingly difficult time with my adopted daughter this week. She has now been home three years, and just when you think, it's time to celebrate the progress we have made, it turns into the most discouraging week with her ever and I fear an unending uphill battle. And then at 4:35 this morning, after waking early and perseverating for an hour on how to strike the balance of showing love, but enforcing meaningful consequences, all while feeling defeated with her, I remembered Jesus. He will carry our burdens. And I fell back asleep. After awaking, I don't feel a lightness to my situation with Macie, but I feel a brokenness. A tenderness. A somberness. And maybe I just want to stay here for a day . . . to remember why we need Easter . . . . because it's coming.