Inspiration

Why Do You Look for the Living Among the Dead?

Empty Tomb from CrossCardsWhen hope dies, it’s hard to believe life can prevail.  We remain at the burial site—gazing upon what we’ve lost, unaware that something greater is destined to arise from the ashes.  Helen Keller once said, “When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has been opened for us.”  When Jesus died on the cross, those who had followed him closely were unaware that His death was only the opening of a greater door in which God was about to do “exceedingly abundantly above all that [they could] ask or think” (Eph 3:20).

The women who witnessed the miraculous were met with the question, “Why do you look for the living among the dead?” (Luke 24:5). They earnestly came to Jesus’ disciples with news of the empty tomb, only to be met with disbelief.  It was as if they had come to a tomb of another kind—where hope itself was permanently laid to rest.  The disciples who’d walked with Jesus from the beginning of His ministry had mistakenly believed He’d come to set up an earthly kingdom.  He had been their hope of liberation from oppressive governmental and religious systems—a political Messiah.

When He died on the cross, their dreams died with Him; when they buried Him in the tomb, they buried their aspirations as well.  They did not understand Jesus’ destiny of suffering, predictions of death or promises of resurrection. They didn’t understand He had far greater things for them, an everlasting hope.

Many times we find ourselves in what appears to be a hopeless situation—a graveyard of disenchantment, surrounded by death.  Life has disappointed us; we have disappointed ourselves.  It seems that God has abandoned us to the grave.  We cry out for hope, but Heaven is as brass.  Alone in a graveyard of doubt and defeat, it seems that the promise of resurrection was nothing more than an illusion.

Yet it is when we have come to the end of ourselves that we are on the verge of finding true life.  When things seem most hopeless, we are closer to a breakthrough than ever before.  Why?  Because we finally come to realize that the things we were hoping in were not worthy of our trust to begin with.  They were incapable of sustaining us or providing the life we were looking for.  We finally seal false hope in a tomb—never to be revisited.  This is the beginning of resurrection.

When find ourselves at the entrance to life’s tombs, we have not come to a place of death:  we have instead arrived at the door that leads to everlasting life and hope.  Jesus’ death on the cross is an invitation to die to all our unworthy expectations.  His resurrection is an invitation to find hope that will never die.

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At the End

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At the end of our lives, do we want to be known for building, or for destroying? For loving, or for hating? For bringing freedom, or bondage? For living to gratify our fading flesh, or to benefit our generation…and generations to come? Because only God knows when we’ll take our final breath.

 

Photo Credit: Free stock photo: Cliff, 12 Apostles, Australia – Free Image on …

New Every Morning

Blog_SnowSunriseThe New Year brings with it the promise of new opportunities. When the calendar turns, we see a clean slate before us. Things we’ve been waiting to change finally meet the resolve that comes with a fresh start. As we reflect on the year that’s fading into memory, we consider the year to come and all we desire it will bring.

Unfortunately, many of the resolutions made with the turning of the year never come to fruition. A few weeks pass, and discipline wanes. Desire for change is overcome by the monotony of life, and it becomes easier to slip back into old patterns. It isn’t long before our resolutions are forgotten, and the guilt of not meeting our goals is buried beneath the tyranny of the urgent. “Oh well,” we think. “We can always wait…’til next year.”

Why must we wait? Why put off change for another year, when there’s an opportunity to change…now? God’s Word carries the good news that change is possible every day: “Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning…” (Lamentations 3:22-23).

With God, every day is New Year’s Day. He supplies the power we need to change. We don’t need to keep putting it off. When we stumble and fall—when we wrestle with our old habits and ways, we don’t have to wait long for another chance to turn it all around. Every minute of every day is a new opportunity for transformation. Today is the day of salvation, this moment is the moment for renewal and change. We don’t have to wait another second, another minute…another year. This is the time for new beginnings—a new season, a new day.

Yet with this hope comes the somber reality that tomorrow is not promised. We never know when we will take our last breath. So why not spend our every breath living the transformed life we desire, rather than living dead in the grave of regret? Change is possible. Today is a new day. We may not have tomorrow, so let’s make the most of the gift of the time we have.

All Things New

blog_christmasgiftsretroIt’s over. The gifts are unwrapped. Toys are scattered across the floor. The cookie plates are empty of everything but crumbs. And we’re passed out in bed, exhausted from the whole ordeal.

In a few minutes the kids will wake up to play with their new toys. In a few hours, they’ll be bored. In a few days, at least one of those toys will be broken. The rest will be lost, worn down, or missing parts. In a few weeks, they’ll be forgotten; in a few months they’ll be in the garbage. In a year, the kids will be asking for new toys all over again.

It’s the circle of life, Christmas style. Have you noticed the theme? Nothing new stays new. No matter how we take care of our things, they’ll all waste away.

Yet written on our hearts is a longing for permanence. Wouldn’t it be nice if everything stayed new all the time? Instead, we watch our treasured possessions slowly disintegrate before our eyes.

The message of Christmas breathes life into the surrounding decay. It’s a reversal of things—the old made new, the dying made alive. The hopeless infused with hope. Everything of worth will last.

God has promised to make all things new. Because of Christmas, broken hearts can be restored, lives can be renewed. When all is lost, everything is gained. It’s then that we find life that is truly life—a hope that can never fade away.

So it’s not really over. Christmas is the beginning of all things new.

 

Photo Credit: Free photo: Retro Gifts, Christmas Tree – Free Image on Pixabay …

Hope Came Alive

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The very first Christmas was a time of political unrest and social upheaval, a king so evil and power hungry he would resort to killing innocent children to protect his throne. In the midst of such evil, hope came alive—a hope great enough to inspire beautiful songs written in times of deep darkness.

 

Photo Credit: Free photo: Alpine, Snow, Cold, Winter Night – Free Image on …

In Dark Times

 

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On this side of the world, Christmas comes at the darkest time of the year. How appropriate that in the darkest of days we’re blessed with candles and lights and words of hope. And how appropriate that come Christmas, the darkest days have passed.

 

Photo Credit:Christmas Lamp Post  | Flickr | by Shandi-lee

Never Alone

Blog_Christmas_SadHow can we celebrate a season built around relationships and family when we feel alone? We could be surrounded by people, but still feel like a barren tree in the middle of an empty forest. The snow is falling all around, and the tree is frozen from the deepest root to the highest branch. But no one seems to notice.

Just as that tree lost all its leaves in the midst of autumn, we might feel we’ve lost everything and won’t make it through the winter season of bitter coldness and death. The Bible speaks of a woman who had lost everything in life. Her name was Anna. She was widowed only seven years into her marriage, and there is no mention of her having had children. She stayed in the temple, fasting and praying. And waiting.

Maybe she watched the people who came to the temple—seeing families with children, and wondering why she suffered such loss in her own life. In her day, society looked down upon widows and often presumed that some sin led to their desolate condition. But God saw Anna’s heart, and chose her to be among the first to embrace the child who would one day die to bring salvation to the world.

What was she thinking when she saw the baby? The Bible doesn’t say except that she “gave thanks to God and spoke of the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.” To redeem is to take something that is bad and turn it into something that is good. It’s when God takes the ashes of our lives and turns them into something beautiful; when God uses the death of autumn and the silence of winter to bring about the life of spring. Anna knew that God was going to take her difficult circumstances and turn them into something good. And He did.

Just like He did for all those who had gone before her—those who were part of the lineage of the Savior. Among them were widows who, like herself, had lost everything: Tamar, Ruth and Bathsheba. Each story in the history of our Savior involves loss, but also reveals how God is able to take the trials of our lives and turn them into testimonies. And each story reminds us that even when we’ve lost everything, we’re never alone.

In the midst of war and battle, drought and famine, slavery and loss, our Savior came. Our Savior is also called “Immanuel.” It means “God is with us.” And He is.