Monday, April 25, 2011

living holy week all year.

Well, after a bit of hiatus, I'm back to waiting.
I've found myself sitting at a coffee shop in KC after being dropped off by one ride and waiting for another to take me back to Minnesota.  My ride here had to go to work.  My ride from here wasn't planning to meet me for awhile, so here I am.  Waiting.

I don't mind it.  I brings me back to what God is teaching me.  Besides, it's kind of nice having blocked out time for solitude.  I also enjoyed some down time at the same cafe on the way here for before Easter.  And as I think about it, I can't help but think how appropriate it is.

It doesn't really get much air time in Scripture, but waiting was a big part of the Passion and Easter story.  From Good Friday to Easter Sunday, Jesus' friends were waiting.  Check it out.

Luke says: 
It was Preparation Day. The Sabbath was about to begin.  The women who had come with Jesus from Galilee followed Joseph. They saw the tomb and how Jesus' body was placed in it.  Then they went home. There they prepared spices and perfumes. But they rested on the Sabbath day in order to obey the Law. (Luke 23:54-56)

I don't really think they really got the fact that they were waiting for the resurrection.  Jesus tried to explain it, but still, here we find the disciples hiding in fear for three days.  The disciples were hiding, waiting for resolution.  The women were waiting for Sabbath/Passover to end so they could go anoint Jesus' Body.  Now that their Messiah was dead and the hope that they were looking for died, they were waiting for what would happen next.  Regardless of what they would've liked to do, it was the Sabbath.  They had to be still and wait in accordance with the Jewish law.  The women were eager to go to Jesus' body.  So eager that they prepared everything before the Sabbath, so they could leave right away when it broke.  Until then, though, they could do nothing.  No funeral ceremonies or preparations.  No making casseroles for the bereaved family or picking hymns.  No ordering flowers.  They had to wait.  Waiting was and is difficult.

The three days.  It's the down time between death and new life.  It's often where we live now--experiencing the effects of brokenness and not yet in the full resurrection that is coming.  Jesus saying to us: "Wait.  There's nothing you can do.  Let me make all things new.  Let me show my glory."  Boy, did he.  In a way those women could've never imagined (see stones will roll for more on that story).

And as I sit here waiting, I wonder if it could be beneficial to us to live life in a Holy Week cycle. 

Without being a Debbie downer, I'll be honest.  In my world (and if you're honest, in your world), Good Friday looms all year round.  Every time I get dropped off by someone I love, it's a little Good Friday.  It hurts.  Friends experience difficult times.  Death happens.  Great experiences come to an end.  Good Friday keeps popping up.

But Good Friday always gives way to a victorious Sunday.  Jesus comes and does make all things new.

My days, weeks, months, and years are filled with glimpses of Easter.  Creation is so excited with new life that it can't be contained!  Take a new day, for example.  It's a new chance for life.  A new shot at living life to the full and bringing life to others.  Every time I get picked up by someone I love, it's a little Easter.  New life is breathed into me.  New opportunity.  New fun and stories.  A new journey.

From something dead comes life.  That's Easter, people.  It's all around us.  I  pray that God would give us eyes that eagerly look for Easter when hints of Good Friday loom.  That we would have hearts that can't help but wait to see Christ glorified in darkness.  In times of death and brokenness, we would see it as another opportunity for Christ to bring His resurrection to life in our lives.  God help us to trust the end of the story.  Give us lives of hope--hope knowing that death couldn't hold You.  Hope that promises in all things You're working for Your glory and our good.  Help us not to be stuck on Good Friday, but excited for Sunday.  You're good, Lord.  Thanks for Sunday.  Thank you that we have something sure that we're waiting for--that we can live in Your Holy Week.

Monday, April 11, 2011

sorry to keep you waiting...

[deep inhale...and exhale]

It's been a week. Not a bad week at all. There have been many things in the past week that have been quite lovely, in fact. But boy, has it been full! I started a busy weekend already exhausted and ended it lamenting my shortened rest time.

But if I really want to be honest with myself, I have to admit that I've been running on fumes for awhile.

Once again, wearing my busyness like a badge of honor, I have overlooked and given up what is the most important. I realized and admitted to a friend last night that I have allowed ministry to interfere with my relationship with God. Ironic, right? And ugly. All the worst things come out of something so destructive. I went home incredibly humbled and repentant. I don't want to do this anymore. I'm tired of being tired and dry and running thin. It's not fun, it's not healthy, and it's not God-pleasing. Plain and simple. I went to bed last night telling the Lord how sorry I am and telling Him that I do want to make a change and do better.

I imagine myself in my own prodigal story. I run away only to do things that will make my Father proud. Working desperately to bring Him honor and please people in His Name while unknowingly running further away from Him. I turn around tired and crabby, but looking for gold stars and praise from my Father, but He's not among my stress and toiling. I catch a glance of Him out of the corner of my eye with His arms open, excited to be with me and hear from me. I sheepishly walk His way, knowing that my very intentions to work hard for Him have encroached on the time I spend in relationship with Him. As He embraces me, all I can mumble is, "sorry to keep you waiting.." He laughs and is delighted to be holding me in His arms. This is my prodigal story. One of busyness, ambition, achievement, and success. That's what drew me away. Praise God for waiting for us like He does.

So, this evening I had one of my first free evenings in ages. I have been excited all day. So what did I do with my evening? I went on a date.

Well, not your typical date, I suppose, but a date nonetheless. I took myself out to dinner. It was kind of fun--there were at least 2 other people near me in the restaurant who were alone and reading books. So sitting among them, I busted out my Bible and spent some long overdue time with my Savior. QT with JC.

The Life Journal reading for today was from 2 Corinthians 11 and started out like this:
"For I am jealous for you with the jealousy of God himself. I promised you as a pure bride to one husband—Christ. 3But I fear that somehow your pure and undivided devotion to Christ will be corrupted, just as Eve was deceived by the cunning ways of the serpent."

I was stopped in my tracks for a moment. Yep. I know You're jealous for me, Lord. My devotion to you has been corrupted by the a cunning tactic of shadowing You with good things. I know You've made our relationship perfect in Christ. Help me to live in it. Sorry I've kept You waiting.

I've spent the rest of the evening just chilling solo. Talking to God some. Listening some. Reading some. Just enjoying an evening abundant in solitude and lacking in demand. It's beautiful and vibrancy of life returns. Like when you catch up with an old friend after a long time...and then you wonder to yourself, why did I wait so long?!

If you're anything like me, life spirals out of control quickly. The cunning of the enemy sneaks under the radar and divides our devotion for God without us even realizing it. My encouragement to you and me is to be aware. Make time to spend in the most important relationship you've ever had and ever will have. If you need to spend time fighting with Him, do it. If you need to spend time resting in His lap, do it. He's right there. Don't keep Him waiting.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

when waiting becomes the thing.

In the few weeks I've been home from Israel, I've spent a lot of time thinking about all I'd seen.  The Jewish faith tradition has been one thing that has really stood out to me.  In my basic observations of Judaism in Israel, it seems like the ending of animal sacrifice is the biggest thing that has changed from the time that Jesus walked the earth and that stopped only a short time later.  From my novice eye, most things are generally the same.  It is a faith system filled with rich traditions that point to a coming messiah.  I looked around Jerusalem and saw so many people living lives of waiting.  The heart of this people group is devoutly studying and anxiously watching for the arrival of one who will save.
It was sad for me to see.  The very places where Jesus walked, the very people that God chose to use, the very system Jesus grew up within, the beauty of the Jewish devotion--and yet, they missed Him.  So many times I wanted to scream, "STOP WAITING!!  HE'S ALREADY HERE!!  I'm not sure that would've been super helpful or maybe I'm just not that bold.  Either way, it taught me something.  When waiting becomes the thing, we've got a problem.

It's funny how waiting can take over like that.  So maybe you've caught on that I enjoy doing a fair amount of traveling.  I find, though, that the longer I am waiting to go on a trip, the more difficult it is for me to really be present while I'm traveling.  It's been so built up in my mind that it's hard to fathom that the trip has come.  I get home wondering, "did that actually happen?"  Of course it did.  But it goes to show that we can get so wrapped up in waiting and stuck in what is to come, that we miss it.  That's what happens when waiting becomes the thing.

Jesus told the Jewish people of His day:
“I have testimony weightier than that of John. For the very work that the Father has given me to finish, and which I am doing, testifies that the Father has sent me.
And the Father who sent me has himself testified concerning me. You have never heard his voice nor seen his form, nor does his word dwell in you, for you do not believe the one he sent.  You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me,  yet you refuse to come to me to have life."
John 5:36-40

These people knew the Scriptures.  They knew the Messiah was coming and were well read in the prophecies that told of Him.  Even though the One before them was the fulfillment of all they'd studied, they didn't recognize Him.  They were so deep into waiting that the idea salvation had arrived in Jesus, drove them to kill the One sent.  The waiting had become the thing.  It's as if He was saying, "you're looking so hard for something, wanting to be ready for something, and it's right here in front of you.  I AM.  Don't miss Me."

I wonder how often He thinks that of me.  Take my prayer life, for example.

I pray for healing and freedom.  2 Corinthians 3:17 says: "Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom."  Freedom and healing are here.

I pray for joy in the salvation of the Lord. 
Romans 11 says that "salvation has come to the Gentiles."  Salvation is here for us right now!

I pray for community and relationship.  Hebrews 12:1 says,"we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses," and that I can "throw off everything that hinders."  I'm already connected to a Body and part of something greater.

There are so many things in our lives that we're waiting on and have been blinded to the truth that we already have them in Christ!  2 Corinthians 1:20-21 says that: "no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God. Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ."

All of the promises God has made yesterday, today, and for the future are "yes" in Christ.  He is the fulfillment of what was and the hope for what will come.  Salvation.  Freedom from bitterness.  Life.  Freedom to forgive.  Healing for wounds.  Freedom to serve.  Peace.  Freedom to say no.  Joy.  Community.  They have arrived!

My honest encouragement for you and me today is this: If these are the things you are waiting for, stop waiting.  It's time to rest in the life that's come through Christ.  It is time to hand over  bondage of sin issues.  It's time to see that God's kids don't live that way and trust in something greater for us.  Refuse to make waiting the thing.  Christ is what waiting points to and He's arrived with life for you.  Nothing would delight Him more than to see you live in it.