Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Grandparenting with Grace: Easter-Contemplate the Cost

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Contemplate the Cost

It is well and good to celebrate Easter Sunday. After all, Christ has indeed risen!! Without the resurrection we would have no Savior, He would have remained in the grave and our hope would be in vain. Yet, perhaps we should not be so quick to progress to the glory without taking time to grasp the reality of Christ’s journey to that glory. If one rejoices in the resurrection, but fails to embrace the agony of the cross, part of what is glorious is lost, and the true meaning of our need for a Savior is ignored in celebration.
I have learned one cannot comprehend true joy without the experience of heart wrenching sorrow and pain. For without the sorrow and pain woven into the fabric of our lives- by what measurement do we establish the quality of our joy?  I can know the joy of holding my first born in my arms, but only after the pain and struggle of the birth process and the loss of another who was never to have drawn a breath. In the spring, new growth erupts and we marvel at the beauty of it after the long, hard, bitter days of winter. So, it is fitting to celebrate the resurrection of the Paschal lamb; what was thought to be dead has not only come to life, but in the process we too have been given the opportunity to taste a glorious eternity.
However, Christ was called to the cross to endure our judgment. By no means was it a walk in the park. Ours should be His naked body with its torn flesh. The spittle on His face, the curses ringing in His ears and the spasms wracking His body is what we deserve in the eyes of a Holy and righteous God.  But, God so loved us that He sent His beloved, precious and perfect son to make us to be righteous in His sight. If one truly grasps the meaning and intensity of such love, one cannot but be amazed. That is why I ask:
Can there be any pain or degree of loneliness as great as that which my Lord felt that day long ago when His Father turned His face away and abandoned His perfect and precious Son to my sin?  Jesus risked all He had to enter into relationship with me; what do I risk when turning to Him?  A bad habit?  A sinful nature?  What degree of loneliness am I called to endure for my Savior? And, am I willing?
Do we daily take up what God has called us to do willingly, or do we go about life believing there is no struggle to be had in this life for the cause of Christ? There are many ways to respond to such a question. We can refuse to acknowledge God’s call on our lives and live as we choose, never entering into a true relationship with our Creator. We can spout Bible verses, and sing Halleluiahs in praise, claiming all is well and we never feel alone and empty. Or, we can truly be Christ like and cry out in anguish when we feel abandoned and alone; we can go before our Father and ask to be spared the trial we are being asked to endure if at all possible. We can also humbly bow and say, “Thy will be done.” In doing so, however, we may be called to endure a haunting loneliness of soul. For many times what is in God’s will is not to be understood by others. Even Jesus experienced this as He prayed in the garden of Gethsemane, as He faced betrayal by the kiss of a friend, and as His disciples fled in fear leaving Him alone to stand before Pilate and hear the chosen of God cry out for His blood.
If we are truly listening to the voice of God, we should certainly expect our own Gethsemane experiences in life. On the other hand, the amazing reality to it all is that we can know that we never have to experience the Father’s turning away from us and leaving us in total darkness, void of His presence, for that is what Christ experienced for us. If the agony of the journey from Gethsemane to Jerusalem and on to Golgotha was torture, just imagine what it must have been like for the Son of God to experience the Father’s absolute absence.
Yes, I will celebrate Easter and the risen Lamb! Yet I remain humbly awed by such great love, me the imperfect made perfect through the grave suffering and anguish of the One without a single spot of imperfection, my what a price was paid for me. That is why I cannot forget the cross; for only where the pain and sorrow are truly embraced openly can the fullness of real joy take hold. 

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