Jehovah was not in the wind. And after the wind, an earthquake: Jehovah was not in the earthquake.
And after the earthquake, a fire: Jehovah was not in the fire. And after the fire, a soft gentle voice. (1Kings 19:11-12)

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Friday, May 19, 2017

Even When Healing Takes Time

Three years ago my life came to a crashing halt. The heart echocardiogram on that warm May morning showed my cardiologist that my heart was in dreadful shape. His face was grim and his warning was urgent in that small examination room as he stood over me. I looked down at his shiny navy shoes tied with bright cobalt blue laces and choked back tears.

Three months later, despite what he thought possible, I was split right open and a brilliant surgeon patched up my broken heart, held by God’s Sovereign Hand.

They all told me recovery would take time. Time. That’s all they would say. But, time ticks along like an old Grandfather clock that runs slow, when the days are hard and healing is long.

Time, it seems is the antagonist in a story where immediate results would be more sensational. Who wants to put in the hard work of slow improvement when we can gratify our selves by indulging in instant success that will impress?

That first winter after open-heart surgery dragged on cold and harsh. We couldn’t see it, but hope was tucked deep in our souls.

As the writer to the Hebrews said, “Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.”

Spring did come as sure as new seasons always do. That long winter finally gave in to warmer days.

As the spring flowers poked through the ground, I stood helpless as I watched wild rabbits relentlessly chew off all the young tulip shoots. Only a few tulips survived.

Flowers fade. Hearts break. Lives are laid low.

Even when life doesn't turn up the way we plan, our hope is secure in the One who died, was buried and rose again.

So, when the apples were red and ripe on the trees, I bought more bulbs to plant in the front garden. Time ticked on, a little steadier. Some days began to pick up the pace a little. I thought we were too late to put the bulbs into the ground—September had marched past and October refused to stick around despite my longing for more golden days.

It was early November before we had a chance to stir up the soil in the garden as the sun gently beat down on our backs like a warm embrace, and we planted.

The littlest one took hold of the bag of tulip bulbs. Her Daddy grabbed the garden tools and together we buried 50 bulbs in the dirt.

That same night my son, between bites of an apple--his second bedtime snack, recalled, "Mom, you how I said last week that I didn't miss you that much last year when you were in the hospital? Well, I did, but I think I was able to go on because God calmed me. If every day I thought about how you could die, I don't think I could have handled it—I wouldn't have been able to eat, I would have been exhausted. But, God helped me."

I knew what he was saying. Life is hard. Waiting, suffering, healing, yes they are all hard, but there is always hope.

Last week, another warm day in May, three years since my life was turned upside down, I had another echocardiogram to examine how my heart is holding up from the surgery. After I cleaned up all the cold goop used in the ultrasound I sat waiting in another exam room in the cardiac clinic. The resident doctor walked in with my medical file in the crook of her arm, a Starbucks Venti in her hand and bloodshot eyes. She worked in the cardiac clinic after a 26-hour shift because my cardiologist, she said, is a fabulous teacher. She scrolled over the latest results with me, and we compared them with the last few tests before the teacher-doctor joined us.

No change in the last year and the latest three echos is good news. Three years later and my cardiologist stood smiling down at me. He was taken back at how my children, who were hanging out in the waiting room, have all shot up. There has been a lot of growth in three years. I beamed with gratitude and the resident doctor, weary as she was, observed what hope does even when healing takes time.

There is no doubt that dark, uncertain days and hard, heart-breaking circumstances will come. Don't lose heart.

Hold on to Hope. We read in the book of Hebrews that: “ . . . we who have fled to [God] for refuge can have great confidence as we hold to the hope that lies before us. This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls.” Jesus has gone before us. He is our hope.

In seasons of waiting, when pain and suffering press in, when time slows and days pass by long and trials are hard, you are never left alone in the darkness.

Hope never fades. And joy, well it is always right there rising out of hard places. Healing may take time, but God, He holds time in His hands. He, “who works all things according to the counsel of his will” is faithful to do just that.

My broken heart is still held together by our only Hope.

And the rabbits still run wild all over our yard. But, for the second spring in a row, fifty bright red tulips stand stunningly in our front garden stretching black faces toward the sky, yielding as harsh winds blow.

Friday, May 12, 2017

What Motherhood Has Taught Me: For the Mothers Weary from all the Voices

At the end of that day, I couldn’t rightly remember if I had actually swallowed the little blue pill. Every night at 6 pm my phone alarm plays the harp to remind me to take the blood thinner for my mechanical heart valve. I still can’t get over the irony that the girl with possibly the biggest rodent phobia ever has to pop a pill of rat poison every single day.

But, it’s the kind of medication that I simply cannot forget to take. Without it, clots will form around the valve in my heart and will stop the valve from opening and clicking shut, preventing the blood to flow through properly. As annoying as the distinct clicking sound can be, it is a good audible indication that my heart valve is still working.

Six o’clock has become known in our home as Warfarin Time.

So this night, I couldn’t remember if I really did swallow the pill. I remember the alarm going off. I remember pouring a glass of water and reaching for the bottle of pills, but then because of a distraction, I couldn’t recall if I followed through with this routine I have had for two and a half years now.

I didn’t even think about it until hours later when I found my glass full of water apparently untouched.

I asked if anyone happened to notice me taking my pill. No one had.

In the end, I had to assume that I did take it, despite the distraction, with the smallest sip of water leaving no visible evidence behind because overdosing on Warfarin is just as dangerous as forgetting to take it a time or two.

But, as I was tucking my littlest into bed she became concerned about what would happen to me if I didn’t take it. I reassured her I most likely took it out of habit. She looked up and probed further.

Why do I need the medication?
What would happen if I just stop taking it?
What if . . . ?

The question hung heavy in the room like a thick haze.

It hurts in the chest to breathe in the harsh reality that your seven year old has lived half her life aware she could lose her Mom and nearly has more times that I care to count right now. We haven’t hidden the truth from our children; we have walked alongside them with a fixed gaze, pointing them to Jesus.

In the pause, she switched her thoughts and asked me why I have so many wrinkles. She’s an honest little soul, that one. And well, maybe not the most flattering thing for a woman to hear, those are way easier questions to answer.

She reached up to point them all out, maybe to smooth them or count each one, when I told her flat out those fine creases on my face are not wrinkles; they are beauty lines.

She turned toward the window that was veiled with the roller shade for the night and her eyes lit up as the sun was going down. She laughed with me and pointed her finger knowingly, charging me with the accusation that I just made that one up.

I did, I confess. I made it up. But, beauty lines sound so much more graceful than wrinkles. She can run her finger along the furrows of my beauty lines and we can both be reminded that real beauty is more than skin deep.

As I age, the more clearly I see the lines etched and stretched on my body are marks of beauty in life as they have come from the gift of living out many days. But they are fleeting.

Our hearts will stop pumping, our bodies will die, our wrinkles or beauty lines or whatever you call them, will fade. It’s souls that are left at the end our lives.

It’s the hidden heart that rests in God, the meek, quiet spirit precious in God’s sight that is unfading in beauty.

In the sixteen years of being a mother I have learned a few things about motherhood.

Maybe the biggest thing I’ve learned is that I have barely a clue of how a woman who desperately longs for a child and holds three close to her heart opens her hands up and gives them back to the Lord.

Barely a clue. But, I’ve learned it comes with a breaking. It comes with the crucible. It comes with waiting and refining. It comes with denying self and believing God is the only One who will satisfy our hearts.

It comes from the Giver of all good gifts. It comes from trusting in Him and believing that He gives us all things for our good and for His glory. And there is lasting, unfading beauty etched in all of that.

The taller my children have grown, the more I have needed to get wisdom and understanding.

The more difficult the lessons in life have become, the more I need the Lord to strengthen my faith.

The louder the discord of voices have become the more they drive me to seek the voice of Truth.

It’s those voices that haunt us as mothers.

The voices that hurl all your faults in your face, so that your heart heaves and howls over all your fears and failures; these voices can make you bleed thin.

The tormenting voices that stir up emotions in the stillness of the night lash out at you.

The hostile voices that disturb the peace in the hidden places of the heart unsettle you.

The deceitful voices that speak lies in the dark valleys of every life mess with you.

The cruel voices that scream with comparison that you will never ever measure up can shred you up to smithereens.

Honestly, how do any of us get any sleep the way the voices shriek in our secret chambers?

How do we still these menacing voices as mothers?

Maybe if we see that the seasons in motherhood are made up of so much more than countless diapers and cautious young drivers and curious minds earning degrees.

It’s more than sleepless nights or childhoods zipping past way too fast. It’s more like the seasons are all the joys and all the sorrows that structure our lives.

As mothers, our days are spent in soul-searching longing and heart-wrenching labouring.

The times of waiting and of weaning, the receiving and the giving, the nurturing and the letting go, they don’t end in this life; they spin in cycles and wring us out of ourselves.

Those seasons that burst forth with new life seasons and the seasons that squeeze the life right out of you are all apart of this life as a mother.

Those who continue to long and those who live with the longing unmet mature in these seasons as well. We’ve all been made to nurture and receive and give back.

For all of us this breaks us down to the very fibre of our beings. 

The truth is we all call out in the night, at times our tears will be our food day and night, and we will grow weary from our wailing.
The many voices will trouble us, the fear threaten to choke us. 

But, right there: be still and know that God is God. Rest in Him. Silence the lies and trust Him.

Motherhood has a way of stripping us down to grow us into women who hold children near to our hearts, but open our hands to give them back to the Lord.

And when you can’t remember if you have done everything just right, run your finger along every good gift and count every grace that He has etched and stretched across every season of your life.

We simply cannot forget. Our hearts need it. It is time to give God thanks in everything. Those voices will fade away as the One who is Truth quiets you with His love.

Friday, May 5, 2017

When Life Hurts: Loneliness {And Fourteens Ways to Drive Loneliness Away}

No one escapes loneliness. It doesn’t matter how many friends you have or how much family surrounds you, there are times in all of our lives when we feel completely alone.

I’ve known loneliness in my life. I’ve been lonely, as I’ve lived with the people who know me the best, as I have left large gatherings teeming with people, while sick and shut-in and while well enough to get out.

I was so ill when discharged me home after three months in ICU, doctors warned us that we should do everything possible to not be exposed to even the common cold. This was necessary precaution, but it didn’t do any good for my basic need to interact with other people.

My outings were limited to medical appointments, which only reminded me of how much I was shut out from the rest of the world. I was able to stay connected to the outside world through social media. While Facebook gave me the illusion of being connected, it left me more isolated and failed to make up for real life connection.

They say we have never been more connected as a society and at the same time we have never been so lonely. Loneliness has become an epidemic problem. 

We have withdrawn ourselves from one another. We keep ourselves busy and distracted. We say we have a lot of friends, but do we really cultivate deep friendships?

We’ve made it more about width than depth when it comes to our social circle. We discard relationships as easily as clicking ‘unfriend’.

I can tell you I know the bitterness of loneliness in our online world. But, I have also known the sharp sting of it in a real wide web of people.

No one with a heartbeat will escape loneliness. And it will stab at your heart. There are seasons in life that will leave you more prone to loneliness. When death takes away loved ones, when health fails and leaves you shut-in, when children take wing and fly from the nest, when for any reason you are abandoned in a bustling civilization, loneliness hurts.

But, even in your loneliness, don’t be deceived into believing that you are alone. 

We do need to do better for one another. We all know how much it hurts so why do we leave one another in our loneliness?

Are we keeping ourselves so busy and distracted to keep away from doing the real work of relationships? 

You stay busy with activity and you lose out on time to really connect by simply being together. It is happening in our homes, our neighborhoods and our churches.

“What should we do about it?” we ask.

There is no shortage of ways to drive away loneliness. 

Think about one of these ideas:

Reach out to someone who needs you as much as you need him or her. If you are lonely, guaranteed you can find someone else who is lonely. Make it a priority to care for others who are lonely.

Take a break from social media. If you are on any social media, regularly evaluate the level of distraction it is for you and if it is hindering real life connections, step back for a set time.

Go for a walk with a friend. Get outside, get some exercise, and do it with a friend. It provides opportunity to talk about life.

Invite a neighbour in for tea. Sipping tea with a neighbor is a lovely way to develop a friendship. Whether it is in one of your homes or in the yard while the children run around with wild imaginations. Step outside of your comfort zone and get to know a neighbour.

Host a family game’s night. Everyone bring treats and games and you are set for families to spend an evening together. Build settlements, yell “Pit!”, split your sides with laughter at the charades, and get sticky caramel sauce all over your chin.

Be vulnerable and invest deeply in friendship. It takes time and faithfulness to stick closely to someone through thick and thin and build enduring friendships. The joy that comes from having a friend you can turn to at any time is worth more than any cost it might demand of you.

Visit a senior who lives alone. Some of the loneliest people in our world are seniors who are living alone. Aging, health limitations, and busy families cause those who have celebrated many birthdays to be more prone to isolation. Let’s do better at making sure those who live alone are not so lonely.

Include a single person in your family’s activities. Don’t be surprised when a friendship with a single person blesses your family just as much or more as your family may encourage him or her. Set another place at your family meal table, laugh loud with them as you play Dutch Blitz, be available to listen to their hopes and fears.

Plan a simple party in your neighborhood. All you need are simple invitations and a neighbourhood. The party could include ice cream. Other ideas include road hockey, a community dinner, or picking up garbage on the side of the road.

Stay connected with family. God places us in families and the joy that comes from family is as real as the heartbreak that can come from fractured relationships. Live with an attitude of humility with whomever grows up into your family tree.

Attend your church meetings. Consider how to stir up one another to love and good works. Open up your lives and homes with those whom you regularly gather together to corporately worship the Lord. Grow in the grace Lord Jesus Christ together, pray together, sing together, exhort and build one another up.

Join a community of people with similar interests. Pick up an old hobby or acquire a new one. Surround yourself with others that can help you develop your abilities. Support others to develop theirs. Always be ready to discover something new.

Get to know someone who is different than you. Don’t close yourself in. We are all unique. Always appreciate those who are not the same as you. They can expand the world you live in and help you to develop compassion for those who suffer from things that are foreign to you.

Brighten someone’s day with a smile. Just do it. A genuine smile can transform a person’s day. Be generous with your smiles.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Hard Pressed Between Living and Dying

Doctors dropped the dreaded C word on my parent’s ears the month I turned three. A diagnosis like that . . . well, it’s life changing.

As a child I couldn’t comprehend how vastly it had changed my life. Before I could grasp what living meant, I faced my death. But, I didn’t really know it. I simply succumbed to the consequences of the ugly disease and then the horrific treatment and finally to the life-altering side effects. None of this was pretty. It mangled my body, my childhood, my adolescence, my family, my future. Nothing remained untouched.

Childhood cancer is an ugly cancer. You don’t ever get over childhood cancer. It changes you before you can even define who you are. But, you learn to fight, to persevere, to adapt, and to look at life through realistic lenses. If you, as they say “beat the disease” after it has thrashed you and busted you up, you live your life knowing that death is certain, yet confused because no one can tell you how much longer you have to live.

You become intimately acquainted with pain and suffering. You know what it is to be seen with curious and hurtful stares and hear insensitive and unkind words. You know what it is to ride on IV poles and scream at thumb pricks and cry out from a desperately lonely hospital bed in the middle of the night for your mom and dad who were kicked out of your room when visiting hours were over.

When the side effects of the treatment send you back to the operating table time and time again, you lay yourself down to keep on fighting to live.

When you run out of all options but one, you take that one fighting chance and you hold on to it tightly.

When the surgeon unzips you and peels back all the layers down to your failing heart and digs around all the cemented scar tissue from thirty-five years before and uses everything he knows to rebuild your heart and you barely make it off the table alive, you wake up not knowing how to go on any longer.

For my whole life I had been trying to figure out how to actively live. When my cardiologist told me to stop doing everything so I could keep on living, I faced my own mortality. Being a good doctor he didn’t give me statistics or tell me exactly how long my heart would keep on pumping because he didn’t have any statistics and he didn’t really know.

When my heart surgeon told me he would do everything he could to help me get back home to my family, I knew he wasn’t making any promises. Being a wise surgeon he didn’t give me statistics or false hope.

Being told your heart is failing and living through open-heart surgery is life-changing. Many times I was a hairbreadth away from my last exhale. I wasn’t afraid of dying. But, for the months I lived in ICU, I became terrified of living.

This world is a cruel place when you are teetering between life and death. It is hard work to live when a machine is keeping you alive. This world has nothing to offer when you are longing to be with Christ. Our living at this point is only for the benefit of those we love.

Facing mortality helps you to live more fully. Fighting to live when life is so frail entices you to welcome death. When you don’t know how to go on, there is one thing to do, keep going on.

Being healthy is prized in our society. Sickness is repulsive and for the weak. It makes people uncomfortable. I know how awkward it is for people to come sit with you in a hospital room when foul odors linger with pungent antiseptic. It is terrifying and confusing because we all know death is certain for anyone living. It is offensive and out of place when you should still have years of living.

It is even more uncomfortable to visit with someone who is broken in mind and spirit. We get frantic when left with the mere shell of the person.

We are all looking for purpose. Trying to figure out what our living is all about. Some of us are afraid of dying; some of us are terrified of living. The thing is none of us are very honest with each other or with ourselves.

I want neatly packaged answers and I keep unpacking hard to understand problems.

As joy is God’s grace recognized, living with joy is possible even in our suffering. I only see it that way if I believe in God’s sovereignty, and that His providential hand will bring all things to pass to complete the work in me that He has begun.

It appears to many as though I have recovered. I am back to my family, back to a full schedule and actively living. The reality is, you don’t ‘get over’ a diagnosis and disease—you may live through it, but you come out changed. So changed you don’t even know who you are anymore. And once you think you have it figured out, you discover you don’t, so you keep on looking to recognize God’s grace even in the pit of confusion and valleys bleak with shadows.

I strap on a breathing machine every night and power up the ventilation treatment for whenever I sleep. My body is still frail, my breath still short. The sobering thing is, this is as good as it is going to get for me on this earth.

Many days I wake up and wonder how I will go on. But, I will. I will keep on searching what living really means until one day, the day God has planned for me, when I won’t. For now, to live is Christ. That day, to die will be gain.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Hope Rings Crystal Clear from the Empty Tomb

There is something we all need more than the breath of life that fills our lungs.

Even today, as war ravages nations and families, and bombs tear apart lands and lives, as some sit in comfortable safety and others flee from war-scarred countries, as disease disfigures and disables; there is a glorious message of hope, but it is not found in the absence of battles.

It is not a popular message, it is not a political message, it is not a prosperity message, but it has the power to change. It is a message of hope that rings crystal clear from the empty tomb that Christ is risen and reigns.

We are to proclaim this message of hope to those who are perishing in war and to those who are lost in their safety and everyone caught in between.

And we have good work to do. It will wear us right out, leave us weary to the bone. It will even cost us our lives. It is fitting that we should die, that there be a new and beautiful harvest.

There’s this paradox that unless we are made alive, we will be forever dead in our sins, and unless we die, we will not be made alive.

There is nothing we could gain in this world, and there is nothing that we could lose in this world that will compare to the hope of what we have for eternity.

Because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead, we have “an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading”.

Death has lost its sting. Sin has lost its power. Death was swallowed up in victory on the cross of Christ. The grave could not hold him because Christ had taken out the sting of death on the cross.

I can tell you how much I need this hope as I fight through all my battles. It is the glorious message this world needs—the same message it needed on the third day after Jesus died.

Early, on the first day of the week, women went to his tomb and found the large stone, which had been placed at the entrance of the tomb, rolled away. They entered, but did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. They were perplexed and did not know what to do. They had prepared spices and had come to anoint his body. But, they could not find his body.

Suddenly, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel. They said to the women: “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise.”

At that, the women remembered that Jesus had said those words. They fled from the tomb with fear and yet were filled with great joy and ran to tell his disciples the news. But, the women’s words sounded like nonsense and silly talk to them and they didn’t believe them.

Jesus had been raised from the dead. The tomb was empty. Only the linen cloths that he had been wrapped in were still lying there.

Jesus had taught many times during his ministry that he would die and on the third day be raised again. Now it has happened, and they still did not understand that He must rise from the dead.

All of Jesus’s life was a prelude to his death, His cross was the victorious climax and His resurrection was the resounding “yes” to the perfect plan of God.

For the forty days following his resurrection, Jesus presented Himself to His disciples and apostles to prove He was alive. He opened their eyes in understanding and many believed.

To Thomas he said, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

If Christ was not raised then Christians are the biggest fools of all. For we have believed a message of foolishness. Instead of a “hall of faith”, it has been said, we would end up with a “hall of fools”.

You can find many proofs of the resurrection of Jesus from history. But, it requires faith to believe that God raised Jesus from the dead.

The resurrection was essential to confirm that the work Christ accomplished on the cross satisfied God, as the incarnation was essential to make it possible.

The resurrection:

proclaims with power that Jesus is the Son of God 
publicly declares that his substitutionary sacrifice for sins satisfied the wrath of God.
provides forgiven sinners with a living hope
produces in us life-giving power
proves there is victory over death

In laying out the truth that the gospel includes the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the apostle Paul zooms in on practical application. He exhorts the believers in Corinth to “be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.”

As we abide in Christ, we will bear this fruit in our lives as well. Since Christ has been raised, we are to be steadfast. We are to be ‘well-seated’, firm in the faith of the gospel. The gospel of Christ that we have received and believed, we hold on to it, study it, preach it to ourselves, it is our firm foundation—rest on it. There is much opinion today and little conviction. Be fixed firmly in your own conviction.

We are to be immovable — without movement or change of status. Because of the hope we have we will be firmly persistent and not swayed by others from without. Whatever trials may come upon us, though we will be tested and tried by fire we are to stand firm. We will not be shaken when we stand secure on the foundation of our faith--Jesus Christ.

Because of the living hope of the resurrection, we are to be always going above and beyond, engaged in promoting the glory of God to further the gospel. Always abounding, increasing in excellence in our work for the Lord. This labour involves weariness, toil and deep fatigue, but it will not be in vain or worthless.

To many it sounds like utter nonsense, as the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing. It is strange and extraordinary, but we should, like the women, with fear and filled with great joy, proclaim what we have heard: That Jesus Christ has died for our sins, was buried and that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures.

The steadfast love of God transforms lives and the surpassing greatness of his power raises the dead unto newness of life.

The empty grave proves the living Christ is the bright hope this world needs today.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Standing Near the Cross of Jesus {Mary's Soliloquy ~ A Good Friday Monologue}

This blackness . . . it’s frightening. I can’t see. It’s midday. What’s happening? What was that thunderous roar? The ground shook.

I was watching him. My son bowed his head and breathed his last, when the sunlight had failed and the mid-day sky has been swallowed up and the land has been veiled in this dreadful darkness. There is something horrendous happening. I can’t explain it.

Standing at the cross, I cannot recognize him by his appearance. At every lash that shredded his flesh, my heart frayed. But, as they stripped him down and twisted together a crown of thorns for his head, and mocked him and spit on him, in His eyes I recognized him by his love. As he called to his beloved disciple to take care of me now in his stead, I treasured his faithful obedience.

My heart aches like the soldiers have taken the spear that they pierced into his side and plunged it into my soul.

Righteous and devout Simeon told me it would come to this. I am shrouded in darkness in the middle of the day and my mind recalls the night when a dazzling light broke through the midnight darkness.

That night I gave birth to my firstborn son, and the glory of the Lord shone brightly. And the heavenly host praised God and sang: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” {Luke 2:14}

Forty days later, we came to Jerusalem for our purification with my firstborn son. We had named him “Jesus”--as the angel told us to for he would save his people from their sins. And we came to present him to the Lord--as was written in the law of the Lord--with our two turtledoves.

That was when old Simeon took my baby up in his arms and blessed God and said:

“Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace,
according to your word;
for my eyes have seen your salvation
that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,
a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
and for glory to your people Israel.” {Luke 2:29-32}

Joseph and I marveled that day at what Simeon said about Jesus. Then his words pricked my heart as he told me that a sword would pierce my soul.

I didn’t grasp what he was saying, but I tucked it away in my heart. I have pondered many of these mysteries. As the shadow of this cross has fallen on Jesus, so too has the promise of life.

How many times have reminded my soul that with God nothing is impossible? When I’ve been prone to flee in fear, my prayer has been: “I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” {Luke 1:38}

It’s been over thirty years and my grief-stricken heart is again yielding and as I do, I am seeing.

This is why he came. This cross. He knew all along. When he was twelve we were in Jerusalem for the Feast of the Passover and we left him behind without realizing and we lost him. How could I lose my son? After three frantic days we found him and he said to us, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” I did not understand, but I stored it in my heart. He submitted to us, and he “increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man.

As he worked with Joseph in the shop, his hands sawing, sanding, shaping, smoothing, crafting wood into useful and beautiful creations, he knew this was the work he was living for. All of his living was for dying. He came to serve. He came to save.

I have lost my son again. His hands now nailed on a crude crossbeam of wood, his blood is pouring out as a sacrifice. He came to die. There is a mystery here. Greater than I can comprehend right now.

My heart is wrenched at his suffering. The inner turmoil in my mother’s heart is too great to bear. As the soldiers cast lots for his garments, leaving him exposed and humiliated in his nakedness, I cast down my eyes.

I wonder if my breath is being extinguished from me even as my son, my Lord, my Saviour hangs now, cursed, in this wretched darkness.

As Jesus cried out with a loud voice and yielded his spirit, a centurion close by exclaimed, “Truly this man was the Son of God!”

Yes! Yes, this is the Son of God. Like Zechariah’s and Elizabeth’s John said in the wilderness, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”John testified, “And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God.”

When he turned water into good wine at the wedding in Cana and his glory was displayed, was that not to prove that he is the Son of God?

I am not to lower the power of God to the level of my senses. Once again, as I fail to see all that God is doing, I sing:

“My soul magnifies the Lord,
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant.
For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
for he who is mighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
And his mercy is for those who fear him
from generation to generation.”{Luke 1:46-50}

Oh, that people would turn their eyes to fear my Lord.

In a week, the fickle crowd has changed their tune. Days ago, they sang: “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!”

Then, they urgently raised their voices and demanded Pilate to “Crucify Him!” and yelled in unison, “His blood be on us and on our children!”

And now astonishment and dread fills this darkness and the crowd has run home beating their breasts--themselves filled with confusion, sorrow, and fear. Their dancing has turned to mourning.

This penetrating darkness is blinding.

Can it be that many are blinded to the Light of the world and this darkness is for us to consider that there is something astonishing to behold? When we have lost our way in the dark, can anything but the light bring us home?

Jesus declared, after he had been anointed and rode into Jerusalem on the donkey’s colt, “I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness.”

In my grief, I see him hanging there – becoming a curse on this cross. A cross! The most shameful and humiliating way to die. It is too much! He has been betrayed by Judas, falsely accused by the chief priests, delivered over by Pilate, denied and deserted by his disciples, mocked and crucified by the soldiers, scorned by sinners.

Yet, I watched him willingly, silently, carrying his cross out of Jerusalem, outside the city like the scapegoat on the Day of Atonement bearing the sin of the people.

My heart is pierced. The Son of God is the only one worthy to take this sin upon Himself and become sin to appease the righteous wrath of our holy God.

Yes, he called me his mother, but truly He is the Messiah, my Lord and Savior.

He was conceived in my womb by the power of the Most High, and I bore a Son, but He has born my sin and delivered me from the wrath of God.

I will not rush away from the cross of Jesus. God’s mercies never cease. I stand astonished at the steadfast love of God, mourning my Son, magnifying my Lord, and rejoicing in my Saviour. My Lord turns my mourning into joy.

He cried out in victory: “It is finished!” I believe as he said, he has come to give us life. He said, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”

Did not the prophet Isaiah say:

“ . . . he was pierced for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his wounds we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned—every one—to his own way;
and the LORD has laid on him
the iniquity of us all . . .
like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,
and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,
so he opened not his mouth.” {Isaiah 53:5-7}

I stand at the foot of the cross of Jesus, flooded with crushing sorrow. But, in his victorious cry there is a whisper of hope. I will anchor my soul to the God of Hope.

He has poured out his soul to death according to the will of His Father. I saw how he gave up His life. His glory shines in this darkness. His death is leading to life, bringing me back to my God.

This darkness will not last. As the prophet Malachi spoke, “for you who fear his name, the Sun of Righteousness will rise with healing in his wings.”

My soul will wait in silence for God alone, for nothing will be impossible with God.
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