Spirituality

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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A Simple Prayer

blog_snowywoods“Live simply, love generously, serve faithfully, speak truthfully, pray daily. Leave everything else to God.” I saw this quote while sitting in a café the other day. As I consider the direction of my life, these words speak to me about a simple yet profound calling. So often, we’re looking for the big, the extravagant, the noticeably noble. We want to be significant, and we perceive significance as something evident to the masses.

Yet what if greatness has a humbler definition?

And that’s why this has become my prayer, and my desired life-theme. To truly live simply—not bogged down by temporary things, unnecessary work, trivial concerns, or excessive material endeavors. To love generously: that my love for all would be abundant, honest, and overflowing…not in word alone, but in action and in truth.

Father God, remove every ounce of selfishness from within me: my self-centeredness, self-preservation, self-exaltation. Move in my heart to make me someone who thinks of others more than I think of myself.

Let my service be for the motive of honoring you by helping others. Let it be pure and untiring, all-encompassing—infiltrating all I do and done with all my heart, soul and strength. I confess I’ve grown weary in well-doing. Please renew my strength.

Tame my tongue to be still when I need to be silent and to speak truth boldly and always with love. Strip me of the veil of the fear of man.

I’ve been prayerless, so move me to pray. Prayerlessness is the root of all my trials, or my misunderstanding of your purpose in the midst of trials. Release me from bondage to laziness and unbelief, that my prayers may flow unwavering, unhindered, and unceasingly to you.

Build up my faith to know with confidence that when I’ve done all you ask of me, I can be at peace and leave all else to you. I want to live at ease with you, knowing you alone hold my life and I will stand before you alone at the end to give account for my thoughts, words, and actions.

This is my simple prayer.

 

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A Now Event

blog_traintracksinsnow

Change is not some obscure future event. It’s a NOW event. And we don’t have to wait for another countdown.

 

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A Prayer for The Short Time we Have

Father, as you have promised…use all that is intended for evil and bring forth good. If anything, use the horrific events of our day to awaken within us an awareness of the brevity of life. Turn our attention to things of eternal consequence. I pray we’d no longer expend our existence on what will waste away. Instead, let us use the short time we have here on this earth to invest in things which will last forever.

 

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If My Time is to be Short

If my time here is to be short, I don’t want to waste the moments allotted me. I don’t want to squander or deplete my resources. I don’t want to use my energy on things which are meaningless in the end. I don’t want to be any less than what I was originally intended to be.

 

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To Disappear

I live today in the constant awareness that my life is endangered by the mere fact that I am still breathing. All our lives are, in this daily war zone that is our world.

The places we work. The places we worship. The places we recreate. Nothing has been left untouched by the shadow of evil.

What do we do with this reality? How do we live each day knowing our lives could be taken in an instant?

The other day I was reading a Bible passage I’ve read many times before. It speaks of the final days, of how there will “great distress on the earth.” And it comes with a reminder: “But watch yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a trap. For it will come upon all who dwell on the face of the whole earth.”

Amidst the horrific events we face in our modern age, it’s tempting to allow our hearts to become weighed down.

Drunkenness numbs. The cares of this life cause us to forget. But what exactly is dissipation?

It’s one of those words I thought I knew until I looked it up. As I initially thought, it does refer to indulgence in excessive pleasure. But beyond this, it also means “to squander or deplete.” On a scientific level, dissipation is “a physical process by which energy becomes not only unavailable but irrecoverable in any form.” To dissipate is to “cause something to disappear.” When something dissipates, it becomes “less than” it was originally intended to be.

If my time here is to be short, I don’t want to waste the moments allotted me. I don’t want to squander or deplete my resources. I don’t want to use my energy on things which are meaningless in the end. I don’t want to be any less than what I was originally intended to be.

I don’t want to disappear.

I’m not speaking of disappearing in a physical sense. I’m speaking of getting so lost in temporary pleasures and worldly cares that I lose sight of who I am and why I’m here. Of numbing myself so thoroughly that I forget the wisdom of numbering my days.

The current state of affairs awakens me. It causes me to reconsider the reason for my being here. It moves me to examine my path. How far have I drifted from the purpose for which I was created?

Father, as you have promised…use all that is intended for evil and bring forth good. If anything, use the horrific events of our day to awaken within us an awareness of the brevity of life. Turn our attention to things of eternal consequence. I pray we’d no longer dissipate our existence on what will waste away in the end. Instead, let us use the short time we have here on this earth to invest in things which will last forever.

 

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The Most Important of Seeds

Our thoughts are among the most important of seeds, yielding a harvest of good or of evil. May our thoughts bear good fruit, producing words and actions of justice and truth, mercy and love.

 

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