Monday, March 30, 2015

Getting Ready

On this one reeling planet, someone woke up this morning to realize, again, that their bad dream is still the reality they are living. 

I've been that person. 

You've been that person.

For a whole week now I've been walking around praying for people I don’t know, because their pain has seeped in and shattered my heart. It's hard to see the purpose of it all.

What I want to do is get ready for Easter. 

And I just want the easy and fun parts. Such as pulling open the windows to let warm air into the stale corners of my life, after the long winter. 

I want to take the cute baskets, and tuck bits of cellophane in-between pastel colored candies and maybe buy some new shoes.

I don’t want to work too hard at getting ready for the most important holiday. I honestly want things to be easy and uncomplicated – but that just isn't how life is.

So I've been asking God how to get ready. 

How can I be ready and live like light, when dark things are on all sides?

Last week I was writing for Team 365. I don’t say that so you’ll be impressed. I’m not at all good at this reading some words and writing a short devotional. It should not be as hard as I make it, but it is ridiculously hard. There is some value in the leaning in to do the things that don't come easy.

That is some truth right there.

I was signed up to write on Exodus 11 and 12. Chapter 11 deals with the 10th plague. So, in Exodus 11, the king of Egypt has hardened his heart. Nine times before, Moses has appealed to him. Nine times the king refused to listen. And now, nine plagues later, his heart is even harder and its, going to cost him deeply, as well as all those in his country.  By morning the firstborn of every man and animal would die. 

Sin is like that. It hardens our hearts and costs us more than we think it will.

In the very next chapter, Exodus 12, God, –the God who designed time, the one who can mess with the rotation of the sun, –well now He changes how His people will mark out time on their calendar.

"This month is to be for you the first month, the first month of your year.”
Exodus 12:2

Amen for beginning again!

God would stop and restart time, indicating that from that point on, everything would be different, new, and fresh. Their suffering was no longer going to define who they were. God Himself would define who they were.

But for this epic scene to become a reality, they were to follow God’s specific instructions.

And one of those instructions was that they needed a lamb, to sacrifice. 

This was to be done at twilight and the blood of the lamb was to be put on their doorposts. In this way the angel of death would pass over anyone who had the blood of the lamb, 

They were living the Old Testament picture of a New Testament truth.

That day they had to respond to what they were told, and in doing that they lived out the gospel message of Easter. 

This year I’ve been reading through the book of John with a sweet group of women. And this week Jesus is walking His way to His crucifixion.

The people of that day who were religious... the very smartest men who had devoted their lives to memorizing scripture and taking care of the church building and following all the rules, –those are the ones who wanted to kill Jesus.

These men had devoted most of their lives and energy to reading about the Messiah who would come to save them, but now He was right there in the middle of their mess and they didn't recognize him.

Those who had religion, were indignant that this humble man could be their King. He didn’t look important and He hung out with the wrong people. He talked to the bent down. He touch those who were broken and bruised and passed by.

Perhaps most maddening of all, was how Jesus, did not follow their neatly categorized, man-designed definitions of what He, Jesus, God in the flesh, should act like.

Jesus boldly states that they have a problem. They are tied to the mundane.  

They were caught up in the every day, ordinary, and the things they thought to be true. 

And they were missing God.

So I'm reading this book of John. It is full of the Lamb of God and the Passover symbolism. Beginning in the first chapter there is this stunning statement:

And it is no accident that toward the end of this same book, in John 19:14,  I read how it was Preparation Day for the Passover. Which would mean that thousands of lambs were being slaughtered for the Jewish Passover meal, at the same time Jesus was handed over to be killed.

 That gives new meaning to that verse:

Only God could have orchestrated these weeks of study and how everything I had been digging in to read the week before Easter, it all tied together so beautifully.

It was hard and beautiful all at the same time to read of God's plan to send His son to die for my sins.

And as the clock ticks down to the celebration of Easter, I don’t want to miss Him

I don’t want to keep living the same old way, taking for granted all that it cost Jesus to hang on that cross.

Easter is more than it appears.

More than spring cleaning, lovely dresses and bright colored eggs. More than going to church decorated with lilies and hearing about this Son of Man who was either crazy or really was, who He claimed to be.

Jesus Christ. 

He had an eternal perspective on suffering. 
He grasped that this world was not His home and that we were helpless to save ourselves. 
He recognized that His suffering, would impact all of time and eternity. 
He understood that dying here, would bring life for every single person who believes. 

His perspective really was in touch beyond the horizons of our world.

It's just hard to wrap my heart around all that he did for me.

May the message of Jesus, honestly penetrate our hearts this week.

Today we can come to Jesus. 

Just as we are.

For me? I’m coming weak. Without any great words. But with a heart that desires to relinquish more of my soul to His authority. I want repent of all my coddled sins. I want to embrace people exactly where they are.

I’m looking beyond this moment and into eternity and I’m believing that these days are fleeting and that my next choice matter. 

The reality of this life... is that there are hard things here that can affect eternity. Because Jesus did the hardest thing. He became that Lamb who is the sacrifice for all sin. 

And the most important part? His suffering, His death –wasn't the end of the story. It was the beginning of all things new in Christ.

Sunday is coming.

So, to get ready for Easter, mostly I don’t want to miss Jesus.

How about you? What are you doing to get ready for Easter?


Thank you Jennifer Lee for gathering words and people at your blog home. Go check her out here?

And if you ever need a warm embrace for your heart, this woman is the place to find it.


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© Rhonda Quaney