Monday, March 1, 2010

Life: In This Moment

The weeks that have passed our church family recently have taken with them the lives of two beautiful people--human beings who somehow understood the greater things, the things that grip the heart of God. When you pour cream into a mug of ebony coffee and then stir, the brew becomes a thick muddy whirlpool around your spoon and likewise when God stirred these individuals into the landscape of earth, the shade of humanity was permanently changed. Death. The inescapable--apart from being raptured--truth of the physical body. When we interact with the separation of soul from body we inevitably experience incredible grief--how can we not? What we know has been removed to a place about which we've only heard and read. Just yesterday my husband ran into a man for whom he'd done some work last year. The two were one of those happy retired couples that you hope to be like someday. The man told him that one day he and his wife were sitting, talking together and she just fell into his arms. She never spoke again. Death. I couldn't shake the image of her physical body collapsing into the arms of her beloved while her soul freely fluttered into the arms of eternity. A billboard had been planted behind the lids of my eyes declaring the brevity of our physical existence. Maybe I think about death and illness more now that Jeff works as a firefighter and EMT. He comes home with stories and I think of the families who will race to the hospital to hold the hands of their loved ones after Jeff has finished his part of their care. I thank God it wasn't him, wasn't my babies, wasn't my mom, wasn't my dad and I plead with him for protection and safety for those whom I love. How can I not at least ask? But control is not a luxury we can really afford, is it? Ultimately? We don't control the driver who runs the stop sign or the germs whose flight pattern may choose to land on the sweet fingers of our babies, and we don't get to dictate the moment when a man's heart decides it is weary of beating. But we get to choose how we will live--in the moments we have right here and now. We don't know about tomorrow, yesterday is like a breeze that has cooled our faces for a moment and then shifted south. We get today. That's all. Not even this afternoon or tonight, but right now. Now. I read John 11 this morning ,the story of Lazarus' passing--the rather fortunate friend of Jesus whose soul was returned to a rotting corpse. Such a random thing to be released from eternity's grasp and returned to the parenthesis of physical life that hovers between the everlasting Alpha and Omega. Of which I am aware, there's no record of Lazarus' life after his return from the family tomb. Apparently, the event of his resurrection was of greater significance than the days and perhaps even years that followed. And I'm left to wonder if perhaps that is because we love the WOW moments far more than we love to hear about the days that fill the average lives of people. But I have to think that Lazarus was a changed man. I have to think that Mary and Martha were women who didn't take for granted the remaining days of their existence. How could they? As a family, they'd shaken hands with death and by the power of God been unwrapped from her inevitable grip. But then perhaps the reason his resurrection is included in John's account has less to do with the WOW factor and more to do with the reality that most of us live our lives out of tombs. Jesus told Martha, "I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live even if he dies, and the one who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?" (John 11:26) The one who lives and believes in me will never die. I love that phrase. The one who lives and believes. Do you get that? You and I get to live and believe. We get the benefit of the hindsight of saints who've gone before us. Naturally most of us will in fact greet physical death, but what is really tragic is that many of us are as good as dead right now anyway. We get to live following life, which is Jesus, or not. And when we aren't following Him, we are dead men walking. Lazarus got to come back because Jesus called him out of death into life. "Lazarus, come forth!" And His call is the same for you and I, "Come forth! Just as you have been buried with me through baptism into death, in order that just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too may live a new life." (Romans 6:4) Come forth. The heart of our Father is that we would live now as though we had already entered eternity because He came that we would have 'life and have it to the full.' His desire for us is life, now. And He's calling us to walk in life--to leave the grave. Lazarus' sisters said he was gonna stink when he came out. I don't know if he did or not. What I do know is that when you are alive, you don't stink, unless you are hanging around near the graveyard. I wonder how long it took Lazarus to remove those grave clothes and live as though he were alive. Not long, I am sure. Perhaps you are like me, and there are a few grave clothes to which you are clinging. They have no hold on you. Take a spiritual bath in the washing of God's Word and then walk, my friends, walk in newness of life. All we have is the choice to live right now as though we are alive. Pray with me: Lord, help us to release the past into your eternal forgiveness. Help us not to assume we have tomorrow to live, but to choose today to live in the newness of life you have given us. Help us to choose life with our family, with our children, with the world around us. Holy Spirit, please illuminate the areas in our lives where we are clinging to grave clothes, to the tomb. Show us where we are insisting that we cannot have life and then explode your life in those areas so magnificently that we declare, "The Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes." May we live, Jesus, as you live and may we reflect your life to the world around us. Amen

1 comment:

Julie said...

Beautiful words, Sarah, absolutely beautiful!

Love ya!