Saturday, April 23, 2011

His Holy Hands

I am He; I am the first and the last.  My own hand laid the foundations of the earth and my right hand spread out the heavens.  Isaiah 48:13

Our hands are amazing!  They are sensitive and perform all kinds of complex tasks from surgery to playing Bach.  And it is with our hands that we express so much of our love for others.  I looked up "hands" in the Bible concordance and found numerous entries of how God expressed his love for us by his mighty hand.  He even has our name engraved on his palm. 

Today, during practice for our Easter performance, I was stricken again about what my Jesus suffered for me on the cross.  A young man from our church had the humbling job of reenacting Jesus on the cross.  As he hung there, unable to use his hands, I was struck by how much self-comfort we give ourselves through our hands.  We rub out aches and wipe away sweat.  We use our arms and hands to curl up in when we feel threatened, forsaken, wounded, broken.  We dash away our tears and cover our faces with our hands.   Our Jesus could do none of these things.  He was denied even a small measure of self-comfort.  It made me so sad.  It made me want to go back in time and climb up to him on the cross and cleanse his bloodied face and back.   Suddenly, I could closely identify with the women who rushed at dawn to Jesus' tomb to minister to his body. 

During a road trip last week,  my daughter and I listened to The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe.  It was such a pleasure to me to hear the story again with adult ears.  After Aslan arose from the dead and showed himself to Susan and Lucy, they had a romp in the young day.   Lewis describes a most delirious time of running and leaping and roaring and laughing.  As I was listening to this chapter, it occurred to me that Aslan really had a lot to do.  The White Witch was at large with her horrible stone-making wand and Aslan was running around in a meadow with children. 

Mary Magdalene found Jesus near his tomb and mistook him for a gardener.  It made me wonder - just what was he doing?  Was he drinking in the fragrance of spring flowers?  Was he sitting on a rock and marveling in the sunrise?  Did his face glow with that ruddy health that children and people who work outside have - an awareness of the miracle of life?  Jesus wasn't running in a panic to his disciples and immediately setting everyone to work.  He was communing with his Father in a garden because He had already overcome the world.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

A Thief in the Night

Three times in my life I have been awakened out of a deep sleep believing that Jesus was returning.  The first time was ten years ago.  It was the middle of a cloudy night and the clouds must have suddenly broken up to reveal a full moon.  That moon was like a spotlight on my pillow and its full bright light woke me up.  In those first incoherent moments I felt no fear, just wondering anticipation.  Later, I was glad about my lack of fear for I felt that this marked me as someone at peace with God.

The second time occurred when the earthquake woke all of Vincennes.  The Second Coming was just one of the many possibilities that flew through my disoriented mind.  No one expects an earthquake in Southern Indiana.

At 2:45am on Tuesday it happened again.  An enormous clap of thunder boomed right over our house.  It sounded like the fabric of the sky had been rent in two.  Andy also woke up and the kids rushed into our room.  I wish I could express with words the feeling of holy terror that came over me.  My limbs were shaking from the adrenaline that coursed through my veins.  We all clung to each other for a few moments because there was no other sound - no rain, no wind, no lightening - nothing to suggest that this was just a normal thunderstorm. But after those few minutes, a gentle rain started and thunder rumbled in the distance and with relief we all went back to bed.

I've been thinking about that holy terror I experienced for a day now.  What has stuck with me was this sense that I didn't have any right to my life.  If Jesus had just set His feet down on the Mount of Olives, well then, that was His right.  My plans for tomorrow were of no consequence.  My hopes for my young children didn't matter.  There was to be no whining, no excuses and certainly no arguments that this was a really inconvenient time for Him to make His appearance.  For the first time in my walk with Christ, I really am experiencing that He is Lord in a way that is cutting through some of the "nicer" sentiments like He is Love or He is Good. 

It is Easter week and we have a resurrected Lord. Revelation 19 shows us a picture of what our resurrected Lord is like today:

"I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True.  With justice he judges and makes war.  His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns.  He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself.  He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood and his name is the Word of God.  Out of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations.  He will rule them with an iron scepter.  He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty.  On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written:  KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.

What a reminder to keep working out my salvation with fear and trembling!
Come, Lord Jesus.  Come.