Time in the Tomb

Photo by Tim Reid from flickr.com

Read and meditate on Matthew 27:57–66.

Stop judging by the way things look. –John 7:24 ERV

 Jesus was dead.

What now?

They’d believed He was the Messiah, the Promised One, the Son of God. Divine. He’d healed the sick, raised the dead, cast out evil spirits, fed crowds of thousands with a few loaves of bread and a couple of fish, walked on water, calmed storms. He was their friend, their teacher, their master, their Lord.

How could this have happened? More important, how could He have let this happen?

His enemies had had the last word. So everyone thought.

Now what would happen to them?

I think about that day between Jesus’ death and His resurrection.

His body lay in a cold, dark, dank tomb, buried in haste by a rich disciple who also happened to be a member of the very Council that condemned Him to death.

His disciples were locked away in an upper room, cowering in fear, wondering if they’d be next. Best stay hidden.

His enemies visited the Roman governor and asked him to post a guard at the tomb, “lest His disciples come by night and steal Him away, and say to the people, ‘He has risen from the dead.’ So the last deception will be worse than the first.” (And by getting guard, they proved that the disciples could not have come and taken the body. Ah, I love how God works!)

Yes, the time in the tomb was bleak. The disciples’ dreams of a Messianic kingdom were gone, bled out by the nails that pierced His hands and feet. The last shred of hope pierced by the spear that plunged into His side as He hung on the cross.

But all was not as it seemed.

It never is, is it?

We cannot see what God has in mind. We can only trust that He’s got this, and He knows what He’s doing. That eventually His plan and purpose will be fulfilled. We just have to wait it out.

Wait and pray.

Wait and hope.

Wait and fluctuate between fear and faith. Between despair and hope.

And waiting is the hardest part. It tests our faith, runs roughshod over what hope we’re left clinging to. It stirs up doubt. Does God really care about little me? Is He ever going to make something good happen?

But it’s in the cold, dark, dank tomb that our faith, through trial and testing, strengthens and grows. It doesn’t grow in the good times, when euphoria and adrenaline feed our emotions.

Faith isn’t about emotions, is it?

Faith isn’t about what we think, is it?

Faith, to paraphrase a favorite quote, is like driving at night in the fog (or heavy rain). You can only see as far as your headlights’ beam, but you can make the whole trip that way.

Laverne enjoys a grandchild seven months before her accident. (Photo taken by James Hooks. Used with permission.)

My friend and sister-in-Christ Laverne has lain in a coma since a speeding car hit her and sent her careening headfirst onto the pavement. For nearly two years friends have prayed for a miracle.

I prayed. But, like the disciples, I doubted. Two years of of nothing. Her time—and our time—in the tomb.

But a thought came, unbidden: “Wouldn’t Easter be the perfect time for God to bring this precious lady of faith out of her tomb?” I pushed it aside. After all, look at the facts. Even the doctors said there was no hope. And even if her body survived, her mind wouldn’t.

Then I got a message from her husband: “Today Laverne was alert, with one eye open, squeezing my hand. Actually moved her hand sideways. When I got there, the nurse that shifts her position said Laverne was actually helping her move. (Never happened before.) Small miracles, slow but adding up. Thanks for continued prayers.”

Shame on me. I’m too much like Thomas. I want to see before I believe. But I have to believe before I can truly see.

Are you in a tomb?

Have faith. Cling to that last thread of hope.

Sunday’s coming. New life will explode out of that tomb.

Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief. Amen.

From God, Me, & a Cup of Tea for the Seasons, © 2018 Michele Huey. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

From Amazed to Afraid

Quinqua-Behold-we-go-up-to-Jerusalem-Liz-L.-Swindle.png (800×400)
Without Purse or Script” by Liz L. Swindle

Read and reflect on Mark 10:32-34.

Now they were on the road, going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was going before them; and they were amazed. And as they followed, they were afraid. Mark 10:32 NKJV

Jesus was walking into a lion’s den. The disciples knew the Pharisees were just waiting for a chance to get rid of Him. They’d witnessed the many times the Pharisees had tried to trap Jesus. And they’d heard the words of warning Jesus had given them twice before: That He would suffer terrible things when He went to Jerusalem, be rejected by the religious powers that be, and be killed. And He’d rise from the dead.

They knew danger lay ahead, but there was no convincing Jesus to stay out of Jerusalem. They couldn’t fathom it. Their sense was to protect their Master, to keep Him with them as long as possible. Why would He knowingly go to a place where death awaited Him? They were amazed not only that He dared to go but also that His steps were firm, His attitude resolute.

Amazement was nothing new to the disciples. It had been a daily occurrence for the three years they’d followed Him, lived with Him, learned from Him. But their amazement turned to fear as they drew nearer to the “City of Peace.” Did Jesus want to die?

Yes. He had to, for only the sinless Lamb could become the sacrifice needed to take away our sins. This wasn’t what they signed on for three years earlier when Jesus invited them to follow Him. They thought He’d set up His kingdom and they’d be the bigwigs. James and John even asked to sit on either side of Him—the places of highest honor. How little they understood!

Isn’t the same with us? When we first decide to follow Jesus, we’re excited, amazed, hopeful for what’s ahead. Then things don’t turn out the way we expect. Instead of reward for our sacrifices, for our good deeds, we get trials and troubles. Like the disciples, we don’t fathom the eternal significance of our decision or of our daily choices. We don’t want to wait for our rewards. We want to enjoy them now. We follow Him in amazement at first, then as the road gets steeper and we begin to understand the real cost of following Jesus, the fear sets in.

The remedy for fear is to do what Jesus did: Focus on the Father. Like Corrie ten Boom said: “Never be afraid to trust the unknown future to a known God.”

Never let the amazement of following You dwindle, O Lord. Keep my face set to Jerusalem. Amen.

From God, Me & a Cup of Tea for the Seasons, © 2018 Michele Huey. All rights reserved. Used with permission.