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.

The Birds of the Air

Photo courtesy of Mark’s Outdoor Shots, © 2019 Mark Kephart Sr. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

“Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.” –Jesus, as quoted in Matthew 6:34 (The Message)

 It was literally the birds of the air that caught my attention one morning during my quiet time.

The morning temperatures were still warm enough to sit out on the back deck and absorb the peacefulness of the woods behind my house. I’d not slept well the night before, my mind whirring with worries.

I know—Christians aren’t supposed to worry, right? But life slams Christians, too. What makes it different for us is how we respond to it.

And I wasn’t responding very well. Not as well as I thought I would. It’s easy to spout Scripture when things are going relatively smoothly. But when the storms come, the winds tear at your faith, and the waves crash over your resolve to stand firm, it’s all you can do to hang on.

Scripture tells us to cast all our cares on Him because He cares for us (1 Peter 5:7) and He’ll sustain us (Psalm 55:22). It’s one thing to read those words; it’s another story entirely to do them.

Now, I’m good at casting. The problem is I keep reeling the burden back in. And casting it out again. And reeling it back in.

That night I cast my burden on the Lord by presenting Him with the whole list of what was worrying me. I claimed Philippians 4:19—that God will supply all that I needed. And, in keeping with Luke 11:9, I asked. I sought. I knocked.

Now if only I could leave the response to Him.

But no. I awoke the next morning with the burden still heavy on my mind, heart, and spirit.

The little gray bird flitting from limb to limb caught my eye first. Then the robin, worm still in its beak.

“Look at the birds of the air,” I heard God say. “They neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?”  (Matthew 6:26)

I looked up the Scripture—Matthew 6:25–34. Three times Jesus said, “Do not worry.”

And I remembered Philippians 4:6—“Don’t be anxious or worried about anything.”

I did the second part of that verse—“pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.” But peace still eluded me. Because I kept reeling those worries back in again and again.

“Worry is like a rocking chair,” motivational speaker Glenn Turner noted. “It gives you something to do but it gets you nowhere.”

I’m not good at sitting and waiting for God to work. I have to be doing something—anything but be still.

“I have come, that they might have life,” Jesus said, “life in all its fullness” (John 10:10). Abundant life.

And worry compromises that abundant life by siphoning your hope, your joy, and your energy, and replacing them with anxiety, insomnia, tension, and irritability. In other words, you’re no fun to live with.

So, how do we deal with worry?

First, recognize where it comes from: the enemy of our souls, a lack of trust in God, and a weak faith. That’s a hard pill to swallow.

Second, respond to it by praying: cast your burdens on the Lord and leave them there!

Prioritize that worry list. Determine what’s most important and, with prayer, deal with that.

And finally, live in the present.

“Worry is carrying tomorrow’s load with today’s strength—carrying two days at once,” said Holocaust survivor Corrie ten Boom. “It is moving into tomorrow ahead of time. Worry does not empty tomorrow of its troubles. It empties today of its strength.”

Look at your calendar. See that square marked today? Focus on that. Live in one square at a time.

Do you dwell on the what if’s?

Do you focus on the worst-case scenario?

Do you lie awake at night because your worries are whirring through your mind and you just can’t put them to bed?

Maybe, like me, you need more practice with your casting—and learning not to reel them back in.

When I thought, “My foot slips,” your steadfast love, O Lord, held me up.  When the cares of my heart are many, your consolations cheer my soul.  –Psalm 94:18–19 ESV

Read and reflect on Matthew 6:25–34.

 © 2019 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.

Photo courtesy of Mark’s Outdoor Shots, © 2019, by Mark Kephart Sr. All rights reserved. Used with permission.  Click here to see more outdoor shots.