Wednesday, April 6, 2016
Ten Days After Easter
Easter was just a Sunday or so ago, but I have an unusual habit: I read old devotionals. Oh, I read current ones, too…I’m kind of a devotional junkie. In fact, during one of my radio interviews, the interviewer asked me why I used a devotional format for my divorce books, and my reply was that first, the reading of it could extend over a longer period of time, which can be helpful since divorce takes a while to get through. Secondly, I indicated that I enjoy devotionals myself, and have found them to be useful in my life, so wanted to share that special treat as well. ANYWAY, since I mix in older devotions, I end up with some odd combinations. Such as, today one of the devotions had been for Good Friday of the year for which it was actually written…and another was on a different day of Holy Week. So the neat thing is that I am experiencing an extended celebration and reflection about Easter and the surrounding events.
One of the things that struck me in my “after the day” readings about Easter was when I was reading in Luke 24, the stories about the two men walking on the road to Emmaus to whom Jesus appeared. Careful reading of their words indicates that they were headed home, headed back to pick up the pieces now that the one they “had hoped was the Messiah” had been crucified.
Jesus makes them tell him about everything they had experienced that week, and as they did so, they mentioned that some women had come claiming to see Jesus, and the disciples had gone to inspect but hadn’t found him. In other words, these guys had heard the news about the resurrection, but were going home anyway! I kind of feel the same way when I read John 21 and notice Peter saying that he was going fishing. They had news of the resurrection, but in spite of the news, they went back to their old routines.
Interestingly enough, into both of those stories the resurrected Jesus enters and makes clear that death had not won the final battle, and when they really grasp that, they never return to their old lives again. Instead, they find new energy, new options, new hope, and new lives!
So Easter was ten days ago,
Could I dare to ask whether it has made any difference in YOUR life? That is, now that the celebration of the day is over, has the power of that resurrection meant that your life has been changed for the good, not just for a day, but for each and every day afterwards?
Or have you gone back to fishing, feeling that you wish it had made a difference for you, but it hasn’t? Because I am reading these old devotionals, I find myself immersed in an ongoing Holy Week repetition and celebration, and I am finding it meaningful and interesting. We each choose whether we open our hearts and lives to resurrection energy, hope and change, or dwell in the past that weighs our hearts down.
In life, there are many events that can send us spiraling into despondency. Divorce is certainly one, but it is not the only one. Not only is that the case, but many individuals go to wonderful Christian conferences, hoping that it will make a big difference in their lives, but return afterwards and find themselves in the same old drudgery. Let me challenge you today to examine the drudgery and routine of your life.
Have you lost track of the resurrection?
Have you lost hope that Jesus was YOUR Messiah and would make a difference for the rest of your life, not just for a moment?
Have you spent so long dealing with dark and troubling times that hope is a word you can scarcely define, let alone claim as your own?
If so, I invite you to join me in going back. As Jesus led those Emmaus disciples back over the events of Holy Week, let God lead you again through the stories of the triumphal entry, the prayers in the garden, the last supper and crucifixion, and the resurrection that IS Easter! Let those stories remind you that darkness does not win. That despair is not all powerful. That despondency falters before the resurrection power of God to change lives forever. Invite God to let the light of Christ burst forth afresh in your soul, breaking open the stony places just as the rock rolled away from the tomb. And then go forward unencumbered by the past, but living the promise and the hope.
Go forward to what God will do in your life AFTER the chapter of divorce. Or what God may do when he resurrects your marriage and brings it to a place you never thought possible. No matter how dark the days have been you have experienced, darkness is NOT the end of the story. God’s light overcomes the darkness, and the power of the resurrection can break any stone that tries to withstand it. God can, and will, do marvelous things for you when you seek him…even if, as the disciples themselves had to learn, the things that he does don’t always match up with the expectations you have. Instead, they are better!