Monday, March 21, 2016

The Way, The Truth, & The Life

Against the gray horizon, tree trunks look like thick black strokes of an artist's brush. Color has dissolved from the sky into muted shadows of sunlight masked by a canopy of dark clouds. Hues of black and silver settle across the lake making everything appear nearly monotone. 

It seems like darkness is hanging over and rising up all around.

In the past? I would have spent these days before Easter obsessing about what my children would wear, what pies would be served on Easter Sunday, and if the weather forecast would be good for the annual hunt for candy.

Those were days before I understood who Jesus was and Is.

Before I grasped the weight of my sin or why Jesus had to die at all.

I was caught in a trap of devotion to religion, performance, and general thoughts of being morally good. That's what I believed would help me grope my way through the darkness.

If you know me, you may have heard me say it. How the darkness I walked in could be felt. How it was like being trapped in a deep black tunnel with a speck of elusive light at the end. But the pinpoint-sized glow only gave me a hint of the direction to stumble toward, not light for where to place my foot on the path in the journey.

I thought I was good and good people go to heaven. But the problem with self-defined beliefs is how I had no sure confidence when I had prayed enough, given enough, gone to church enough.

I wish I could write this more eloquently. Not so you would think these words are amazing, but so you could hear the truth of it.

Jesus said there is only One way. 

He came to make the way. He came to pay the price. He came to finish the work.

He came to remove all the barriers, except the barrier of His message.

The message that He is the Way. The Truth. The Life.

I hear it all the time, how the message of Jesus messes with how people think it should look like.

Jesus fed the hungry, calmed the storm, healed sick people on the Sabbath and embraced those who were marginalized. It definitely messed with what people said it should look like.

This week I was reading about how darkness came over the whole land for three hours, as He hung on the cross.

The Light of the World had been willingly extinguished.

But here, and here and here, Jesus told how He would suffer and die and on the third day, He would rise again.

The cost of it is more than I can fully grasp.

He was abandoned by his closest companions, tortured beyond recognition and was hung between two criminals. Is it hard for you to read this? I know it's hard on my heart to write about it. And I'd much rather discuss topics such as the current spring fashions and trending Pinterest recipes, but this is the message that changed me. 

This message of Jesus dying on the cross is the one that brought me from darkness to Light. This has lifted me from the dark pit of religion and all the messy stuff that darkness breeds.

When we read about people who encountered Jesus in an authentic way ––they were changed. Deep down, radical, ridiculous, unexpected, and unapologetic ––change.

My heart needed to feel the weight of what it cost Jesus.

Jesus is the Master artist who has not only weaved threads of light into the darkness, His death and resurrection has brought victory over the darkness.

And it's blinding light for His glory.

We are all messed up and fall short.

We are also, so loved and adored that Jesus was glad to die for us.

Knowing this should move us out of pews and move us into circles.

Circles of friends that will help us grow in our relationship to know Jesus better.

It should move us into circles in our communities ––to serve.

Circles in our hard-to-love family –– to love.

Circles wherever there are people who might be looking for light in the midst of darkness ––to shine.

For years. And years. I tried to understand why Jesus had to suffer like He did.

This Friday coming, would be the worse day in History, except for the beautiful truth that three days later became the best day in History.

The Son of God was lifted up on a cross to take on the sins of the world.

And three days later He rose from the dead. 

To the surprise of His own disciples, to the shock of His haters, this is the victory over sin and death.

The victory promised since the days of Genesis when God said a Lamb would be provided for our sins. And it's laid out for us in the book of Revelations, the promise of how Jesus will return as our Conquering King.

We can celebrate this Easter week, not from a place of defeat but from a place of Hope and of new life.

So shades of onyx mingle with light and the darkness is overcome. 

He is Risen.


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© Rhonda Quaney