While I Wait, I Work

Faith & Spirituality, Writing

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In a reiteration of historian Thomas Fuller, “The darkest hour always comes before the dawn.”

Once Jesus gave up His spirit, creation’s heart broke with a great earthquake, the dead emerged from their tombs, and the Holy of Holies became visible from behind a torn curtain. “This man truly was the Son of God!” proclaimed those present at the crucifixion. And then, they held their collective breath and waited, remembering what He had said. “For as Jonah was in the belly of the great fish for three days and three nights, so will the Son of Man be in the heart of the earth for three days and three nights.” {Matthew 12:40 NLT}

Three days, three nights. And once again in applying my humanity to Jesus Christ, I had simply assumed that He waited as well. As the world wept, Jesus rested with the Father, shaking His head at ‘ye of little faith, hanging out just as Jonah did before God sent Him forth again. A kind of backstage lounge or green room to the heavenly realm. Since we as Christians believe that our spirits are not connected to our earthly bodies after death, why would Christ as the Son of Man be any different?

In short, He wasn’t. In death, just as in life, Jesus was busy. Busy speaking His message of redemption, busy drawing others to Himself. But this time, He wasn’t preaching to the living, but the dead. 1 Peter 4:6 states, “The Good News was preached to those who are now dead—so although they were destined to die like all people, they now live forever with God in the Spirit.” {NLT} 1 Peter 3:18-20 goes on:

For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit, in which he went and proclaimed to the spirits in prison, because they formerly did not obey. {ESV}

Then, Ephesians 4:8 (drawing from Psalm 68) speaks of Christ’s ascension to heaven with those He redeemed in death! “When he ascended to the heights, he led a crowd of captives and gave gifts to his people.” {NLT} Not only did Jesus leave us with spiritual gifts when He returned to heaven, but He had companions in those former prisoners, the faithful who died before His time. Christ’s message of salvation cannot be limited by time, space, or even death!

When it seems darkest in my life and I am begging for God to send the sunrise, I must remember the work to be done. While you abide in your Father and His lavish love, clinging to His hope in your despair, remember those that have NO hope without Christ’s message of salvation. For Jesus was bound to the same earthly struggles, pain, temptations, and death we all face; but even after He had died, He worked so others may experience eternal life.

If we have died with him, we will also live with him;
if we endure, we will also reign with him;
if we deny him, he also will deny us;
if we are faithless, he remains faithful—
for he cannot deny himself. {2 Timothy 2:11-13 ESV}

And in this, I can persevere, because I know the Son will rise on Sunday morning. So, while I wait, I work in the hope that others may be delivered by the promise that comes at the first light of dawn.

 

A Willing Participant?

Faith & Spirituality, Writing

So often when we think of Good Friday, we think of it as a willful compliance, a submission even. But the God who designed creation was also the God of the Crucifixion, Christ’s death always a demarcation on the horizon. Always. God on the cross was never any less God, and in authoring His own death, “It was finished.” {John 19:30}

Tozer states that, “Nothing in God’s created world is able to make God–to require God–to do anything.” Even in His infinite justice and unending love, God would have never gone to the cross unless He intended to all along.

Even when He delivered His law to the Israelites, God is perfectly articulate as to who He is.

The Eternal God, full of compassion and mercy, slow to anger, and abundant in loyal love and truth, who maintains loyal love to thousands of people, who forgives wrongdoing, rebellion, and sin; yet does not allow sin to go unpunished. {Exodus 34:6b-7 The Voice}

In this, I AM is telling Moses what to expect and giving all of humanity a glimpse into His character, not at that moment but always. Our God is a God of compassion and mercy, a God of patience, who is forever loving and honest. In this love He is forgiving, but He is also just. And in response? “Moses quickly bowed down on the ground and worshiped.” {Exodus 34:8}

Since God is compassion and mercy, God is love, and God is justice, it is not merely those elements of His character that externally force His hand, but those elements of Him that bleed from His heart into His actions toward us. No more so was that demonstrated than on the cross.

The character of God was not diminished in Jesus Christ, nor was it altered by the cross, rather it was fully proven. Now, instead of wondering how God must feel about us, we are confident in the knowledge of His feelings for us.

But think about this: while we were wasting our lives in sin, God revealed His powerful love to us in a tangible display—the Anointed One died for us. {Romans 5:8 The Voice}

And our response? Simple, we worship.