Some days are awfully busy here…good busy, but still busy. I celebrated Easter today with all my kids, over a delicious meal of corned beef and cabbage (and onions and potatoes). It is really a simple meal, but my grown kids dressed it up with their delight in my serving “…one of my favorite meals, Mom. Thanks!”
I love being with my kids. I love their personalities. I love relating to them as growing adults and young adults. I love hearing them share their faith in the Lord, as well as how they grapple with doubts and worries while trying to look to the Lord and the truth of His Word.
Even still, I have longed to pull away this season and meditate more on the love of Christ once again in His coming to make us His own…in obscurity, demeaned of His rightfully exalted estate; in service and intentional selflessness…and later under deep ridicule, scorn, and the proud, burning hatred of self-righteous men until death. He never lost His focus; He never gave up on us in His pursuit to redeem us as a people for Himself. How can I ever regard my situation in any light except that of His amazing grace and kindness toward me?
Yesterday while reading Jan Karon’s A Continual Feast, Words of comfort and celebration, collected by Father Tim (which is indeed, a feast for the soul as are Jan Karon’s Father Tim/Mitford stories), I came across a great quote by George MacDonald. He wrote a lot of romantic mysteries as a poetic Christian and was a mentor to C. S. Lewis. He also wrote journals, essays and poetry.
…God ministers to us so gently, so stolenly, as it were, with such a quiet, tender, loving absence of display, that men often drink of His wine, as those wedding guests drank, without knowing whence it comes–without thinking that the Giver is beside them, yea, in their very hearts.
Reflecting on a Missing Body
This afternoon after supper I read the resurrection account from Luke 24:1-12. The women who had been with Jesus came to the tomb, and upon finding His body missing were perplexed. I told my children how often do we, as His followers, find ourselves perplexed when Jesus seems absent, missing in our lives because we can’t see Him at work.
The angels appeared to the women however, and told them the Words of Jesus, “ ‘Remember how He spoke to you while He was still in Galilee, saying that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.’
And they remembered His words, and returned from the tomb and reported all these things to the eleven and to all the rest.”
Thinking out loud I shared that I didn’t think it was an accident that the angels knew Jesus’ Words and related them to the women who followed Jesus. It was only when they did this that the women remembered what Jesus had told them while He lived, and confident in the report of Christ’s resurrection boldly shared this good news with others. It was in their being reminded of Jesus’ Words these women found not only a peace but a bold hope that empowered them to proclaim truth with their lives.
All believers are perplexed at times and need often to be reminded of God’s truth in the Scriptures. I know I do every day of my life! I am thankful my Lord doesn’t chide me for the times I doubt He is working, especially when things seem to be contrary to that. I am grateful for the grace the Father gives to help me believe His Word when loud ‘voices’ are telling me to give up hoping for answered prayer.
The Hidden Presence of the Lord
Luke 24 also includes the scene on the road to Emmaus where two of Jesus’ disciples were walking on the road discussing the things that had just been happening—Jesus’ body had disappeared from the tomb—when the Lord Himself comes up and walks with them. He talks with them, yet they don’t even realize it is Him in their midst. Reflecting on the MacDonald quote, the “Giver was (literally) beside them, yet He chose not to reveal Himself to these men while He walking with them.
I told my children as I read how the disciples had walked closely with Jesus. They knew the sound of His voice (like when daddy, or a sister or a close friend would call on the phone, and as soon as they start speaking we immediately would know who is talking!)
These men, like family, lived with Jesus and followed Him around for a significant amount of time, so it’s possible they could recognize the sound of His breathing while He slept during the night if one of them was awake listening. They might have even been able to tell when He was near without seeing Him just by the scent of His skin or His clothing. These were men who, if anyone would know Jesus walking and talking with them, it would be them!
So why didn’t they know He was by their side as they walked the road to Emmaus that day? It was because Jesus prevented them from seeing Him at that time:
And it came about that while they were conversing and discussing, Jesus Himself approached, and began traveling with them. But their eyes were prevented from recognizing Him.
When did these men finally recognize that Jesus was in their midst? It was later when Jesus sat down in intimate fellowship with them, breaking the break with them that they were able to recognize it was He who was in their midst as they walked on the road that day.
How often am I like those disciples, thinking about how Jesus has left (or so it seems) or is silent in my life, while all the while He is with me, never leaving my side but always guiding, giving pouring out consolations and hope within my heart. And often it is when we take the time to sit down with the Lord Jesus, breaking the bread of sweet fellowship with Him that we’re able to realize His nearness to us.
In the busyness of our Christian lives, caring for our families, serving God in our church and in the community we can sometimes be the most ignorant of His presence. Without the hush, the stillness of quietly sitting at His feet, hearing His voice in His Word, communing with Him by His Spirit, we can feel that He is very absent indeed!
If you are feeling the Lord is far away or is silent in your life, I encourage you to look for an opportunity to be still with the Lord and let God’s Word soak in to your weary, anxious, busy soul.
Easter is a great time to remember that He is risen AND He is with us always, reigning over my life, for my good, even when it may not look that way. The Giver IS beside us, yea, in our hearts. What wondrous love is this!
I hope your Easter celebration has been a feast of God’s abundant love and goodness in the risen Christ!
Blessed Resurrection day!