On a journey to find the silver linings

On a journey to find the silver linings

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

"Happy Easter." What a weird thing to say.

   It's such a weird thing to say "Happy Easter," isn't it? I found myself saying it to the guy who filled our propane tank as he walked off after handing me the bill. I turned away, shook my head at myself and thought, "what on earth are you saying to that guy?!" Like, you're happy that it's a holiday, you're happy to give good wishes to strangers passing by, and you're happy to say something nice to people that need a positive boost in their day.

    But saying "Happy Easter" during Holy Week is strange. It's reflexive; a polite, cultural little ditty. And yet ideally, we're remembering our sin. We're remembering how imperfect, hopeless, and helpless we are. We're realizing our eternal state apart from God's grace. We think about what compelled and propelled the perfect Son of God to take up the cross on our behalf. We remember that it's because of our hopeless state that He came to take our place on that cross... It sucks. And it's beautiful. It's dark, and it's light. Such a paradox of things that don't make sense in my little mind.

    So I feel such a heaviness today. I feel the gravity of my human state. The sins I can't get away from, like I can't get away from my own skin or my own breathing. And the weight of them is crushing me....

    But I have hope for tomorrow. Tomorrow is Maundy Thursday; the celebration of the Last Supper. The day that Christ takes the cup of suffering for us. It is a dreadful day, and a beautiful day, because He did that out of love for us all.

    And I have hope for Friday. Good Friday. The day that He was crucified unjustly for MY sins (the sins I commit every day, in thought, word, and deed). The day He took the sentence of "guilty" in my place so that I could stand before God as innocent. The day he suffered, died, and was buried because of His love for us all.

    And I have hope for Saturday. That cold, dark day He spent in the grave. Apart from His Father. Apart from this world that HE created. Apart from the glory He so rightly deserves. I have hope for that long, black day...

    And I have hope for Sunday. The best day! The day to remember and celebrate that He didn't stay dead and cold in that mountainous tomb. The day to remember that He overcame death and the grave so that I wouldn't have to spend eternity in one myself. The day to remember and celebrate that I now have a clean slate and a clear path to God the Father. I've been pronounced "not guilty" because Jesus volunteered as tribute in my place and now I get to live a life of hope, knowing my eternity is secure with the Lord!

    So it is a weird thing to flippantly say "Happy Easter" to the gal at the grocery store checkouts. Yeah, it really is - especially if you don't think about what it means apart from the Easter Bunny and marshmallow Peeps. But at the same time, I AM happy about Easter. I'm happy that it wasn't me on that cross. I'm happy that God loved me so much He would send His son to take my place on it. I'm happy that I get to serve that kind of God! And I'm happy because such a love as that gives me a hope for this thing called life in all of its ups & downs.

   It's a loaded statement, and a paradoxical one when taken apart at its' seams. But a truer statement couldn't come from my mouth this week, no matter how flip it may sound when the words tumble out.

   Happy Easter to you all.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Just call me Elijah.

   I've done this myself for more than 20 years, and I see it happen all around me now. Many Christians strain to hear the "still small voice" of God. They try and try to hear what God is speaking to them as they seek His will or just want to know what He is saying to them that day. But you know what? We're never taught in Scripture to do this. There is a confusion of Elijah's story in 1 Kings with the passage in Psalms 46 where David tells us about God's direction to “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”

   The verses about God speaking quietly to Elijah are teaching us something about what God did with ELIJAH. (Theologians call this a "descriptive text" which means it's a portion of Scripture that describes something in history that God did at a specific time and place for a specific reason. These are not the same as promises or commands to the church at large). It's what God the Father did to show Elijah something about who He is. And the last time I checked, my name was Tanya, not Elijah.

    But, what ARE we taught to do then? Psalms tells us to "be still and KNOW that He is God." How do we "know that He is God?" Knowing = learning. How do we learn? We read. We read the clearly written Scriptures where God doesn't speak in a whisper. We read what He WANTS US TO KNOW in words that aren't a mystery or require us to perform mystical gymnastics to figure out. Be still. Stop turning inward to find Him in a still small voice that was only for Elijah to hear. Know. "Know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”

   Why be still? Why know? Not so you can plan what college to attend, what to cook for dinner or which vacation destination to take. "Know" because He will be exalted and simply because He is God.