Holy Saturday

Originally posted in 2016, this post below has been updated and edited.


I have a small sign on my desk from a friend that reads “Hope always.” It was given to me in a time where I couldn’t muster much hope. I was practically an empty shell and questioning much about what I had known for some time. It sits not only as a reminder but a marker of a time when I may not have been able to find hope, but someone else was giving me some of theirs in the waiting.

Today, Saturday, I think on this hope in the waiting. I sit in the knowledge of what has happened and what is yet to come.

I think of those who couldn’t muster hope after standing, watching the One Whom they called Christ die. The One Whom they believed to be just as He said He was, the coming Messiah. He was their hope, and hope was dead.

I thumb through the words of Matthew, of Mark, in Luke and John looking for hope. I find waiting. I find Joseph active in the wait, I see the women resting in the wait. I just see a whole lot of waiting.

When it seems like our rescue is dead and buried, when that promise will not be fulfilled we can lose our hope. We watch it slip away, confident expectation no longer pulling us. But in that waiting I believe we see hope. We see hope isn’t always this shining, beautiful thing but a mess. It’s hard. It’s difficult, and maybe even borrowed when we can’t seem to muster the hope we once knew and called our own.

Hope in the waiting can look like doing the thing we know we should or resting in a promise given by Him. The wait of Saturday can be a weighty thing in our lives. It can bear out grief, mourning, doubt and fear. Hope collides with each and every one of those to bring us through and unburden us from the weight of it all. Waiting through Saturdays of our lives guide us to the beauty of the coming morning. We no longer want the pain of Friday, a necessary grief. Yet our hearts aren’t quite prepared for Sunday.

So we wait. We wait in Saturday.

Out of the depths I have cried to You, O Lord;
Lord, hear my voice!
Let Your ears be attentive
To the voice of my supplications.

If You, Lord, should mark iniquities,
O Lord, who could stand?
But there is forgiveness with You,
That You may be feared.

I wait for the Lord, my soul waits,
And in His word I do hope.
My soul waits for the Lord
More than those who watch for the morning—
Yes, more than those who watch for the morning.

O Israel, hope in the Lord;
For with the Lord there is mercy,
And with Him is abundant redemption.
And He shall redeem Israel
From all his iniquities. 

Psalm 130 (NKJV)

The What If…

What if God’s just waiting on you to put down the banner of

anger

loneliness

regret

shame

frustration

anxiety

worry

so that He can begin the work in you that is needed?

 

I like to tell Him what I need. What I think I need. What plagues me. But do I lay it down? Do I relinquish it or do I make it my idol? Do I raise my banner high and carry it around in such a way that I begin to make it what I look to in life instead of Him?

That same God who brought salvation to us all? Yeah, He’s the same God in today, with you in these things, with me in my doubts and fears, my questions and anger. Why would I trust Him with eternity and not with today? Not with the banners I carry with me in the day-to-day?

I look at Him and tell Him He’s good enough for the cross for us all, but not for the idol I cannot release.

ouch.

But it’s truth. It’s the truth that I care more for my situation, my lack thereof, than I do for giving it to Him and trusting He has the best for me. He had the best for me on the cross, so why not today? Why not in this struggle?

Just For Today

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I am not sure why but this time of year we all seem to be carrying around more than usual. More than our usual stresses, anxieties and fears. We pile on doubt, ego, pride…we throw in for good measure a couple of pounds of anger or hurt. We find we are just packed to the gills with gifts we really weren’t wanting to give or receive.

 

It’s the Monday of Christmas week. So for today.

Just today.

Why not put down all the stuff you have been carrying around with you? All of it. The stuff you wake up every morning and pick up, like worry and fear. Instead, for today, pick up the Cross.

Carry just the Cross today. Nothing more.

The fears and stresses of today need not weigh you down as they once did. They should not become your idols of busy and pride. It’s difficult to put them down, but when we pick up the Cross instead we find the burden light in comparison-as there truly is no comparing them.

One thing you lack:
Go your way,
sell whatever you have and give to the poor,
and you will have treasure in heaven;
and come, take up the cross, and follow Me.
Mark 10:21 (NKJV)

It’s not easy. But it’s a decision for today you can make, to not pick up everything else. Just the Cross. Just for today.

Reflections on The Tree

The Living Christmas Tree production and performances ended Monday evening at Thompson-Boling Arena. It is done…however, the lives that God changed will continue on.

On Sunday we had a reflections class in our Bible fellowship class, as the teacher had the lead role, and many of our class members were a part of the Tree in some capacity.  This is a production for our church, to say the very least.  The script for next year is already in the works, the music is recorded in July, and they practice for MONTHS on the performances from the dancers, to the actors, to the choirs.  Last year was the first time I saw it, and was involved in a very small way for a couple of nights by throwing out Singles Ministry stress balls.   The “joke” is everything gets pulled to the Tree each year. And boy are they right. This year I saw that first hand as it affected my small group schedule, was what all of us talked about and prayed about for weeks.

Back to class…Dustin brought up some snippets of stories from the first two performances on Saturday.  The man who was portraying Jesus was new to the role this year.  He made this statement to Dustin in passing the day before, “The view from the Cross is very different.” How true, in so many contexts. It’s mind blowing to really think on that statement.  Our view from the foot of the Cross is drastically different than when we’re up on that Cross putting our sin there on Jesus.  Or even Christ’s view on that Cross.  The other thing Dustin brought up was perspective. Strip down the lights, the glitter, the costumes, what do you get?  The gospel was presented, by the grace of God and through the Holy Spirit’s moving. Dustin had a huge responsibility to present the Gospel and invitation at the close of the performance. Alot of prayer went up for him in that, and God really used him to speak His Word. The perspective I came away with was in the moments of the Cross scene, the Resurrection, and the miracles was that God was moving across the audience. Lives were being changed…believers were coming back to Him…and most importantly, eternities were impacted, changed in moments.

I stood on the steps of the concourse on Sunday evening inside this basketball arena watching the portrayal of Christ being beaten and nailed to the Cross. I began to cry.  I saw my sin, my actions, my SELF putting Him on that Cross. I saw His love for me. His love for us all. That moment I knew, God was working. His hand was on that place and showing those who may never hear any other way, about His Son, His sacrifice, and His ultimate love for each one of us.

I got the amazing privilege of being at the prayer booth for two performances and I was touched, moved, and stretched. We had several people come up for prayer and I got to talk with one young man who has been on my mind since Monday night. Pray for Dennis. My heart burns for him and what all he’s going through and struggling with his salvation on top of that.  I also got to prayer walk around the concourse of the arena. That’s a truly humbling and joyous thing to do. It’s a privilege for us to do a public presentation such as that on the Gospel, and then to be able to walk around praying over it, the people in it, and those who are seeing it is just awesome. I’m truly blessed more than I deserve by all God’s wisdom, revelation, and gifts.