It is genuinely hard to believe that a month ago at this time that the temperatures were near single digits and snow and ice were on the ground. What a difference a couple of weeks can make! Now we are just starting to experience the beautiful explosion of Spring onto the scene. The grass is growing, some of the flowers are blooming, the trees are budding and the “warm” sunshine is shining upon us. In addition to the plant life, the rest of nature is cheering in the entrance of Spring as well. The birds can be heard singing beautifully all around us and if you stop and listen near the retaining ponds of the church in the evening you can clearly hear the sound of the peepers filling the night air. Yeah!!!! I love this time of year. But it's not just about what I am beginning to see and hear, but also about what it makes me think of as well.
When I think of Spring, I think of Easter. I think of Jesus entering into Jerusalem with the people laying their cloaks and robes on the road and waving their palm branches. I think of the people crying out Christ’s name with joy and celebration. I hear the leaders asking Jesus to silence the crowd with Jesus responding that the rocks would cry out if He were to make them do so. But I also hear Jesus lamenting over Jerusalem due to Him knowing the hearts of the people. He knew that in one week’s time these same people would cry out for His death on a cross. This time of celebration would turn into a time of sorrow and mourning. What a difference a week makes!
Most of you are familiar with the events surrounding the betrayal and death of Jesus. He was betrayed by Judas Iscariot as He prayed in the garden of Gethsemane. He was “tried” six times in trials that were anything but legal, and He was beaten, bashed and bruised as He was condemned to die upon the cross. What a sad commentary. Remember just a week ago everything was bright, cheery, and wonderful. Now, our Lord and Savior just breathed out His last breath upon the tree. I praise God that this is not the end of the story. It was just the beginning.
Imagine the scene as Mary Magdalene and the other Mary approach the sepulcher where Christ was placed just days before. I can almost imagine the tears still wet upon their cheeks, the brokenness they felt in their hearts, and the hopelessness that they were feeling. All of a sudden, there is a great earthquake as an angel from heaven had descended and rolled away the stone from the tomb. The angel then proclaims to these frightened women:
“Fear not you: for I know that you seek Jesus, which was crucified. He is not here: for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. And go quickly, and tell His disciples that He is risen from the dead…” (Matthew 28:5-7a)
Wow! What a difference a day makes! Just the day before, the sting of death had its grip upon all of those who were mourning Jesus. Now, extreme joy had flooded their souls.
What a difference Christ makes! Yes, Jesus Christ makes all the difference. It was His death and resurrection that made possible eternal life and paradise with Him forever. He paid the price for a debt we owed. He took our sin upon Himself. He conquered death and Hades. His blood cleanses away all of our sins. And His gift of love has satisfied the wrath of God from falling upon anyone who has called upon His name. Praise God for His love, grace and mercy! Praise God that we have a Savior who can identify with our hurts, rejection, pain, torment, and feelings of abandonment. He’s been there too! I love the words from Third Day’s song Cry Out to Jesus. They are as follows: “There is hope for the helpless, rest for the weary, and love for the broken hearts. There is grace and forgiveness, mercy and healing, He’ll meet you wherever you are. Cry out to Jesus.”
Just as Jesus’ followers thought all hope was lost when their Messiah was placed upon the cross and laid in the tomb, there are some of you who may think all hope is lost for you. In fact, specifically with all of the changes that have been made as a result of the COVID-19 virus, there are many of us living in despair. While this menace to the health and well-being of our people and our society is formidable, let us take heart! We serve a RISEN Savior who longs to embrace you and walk WITH you through the valleys in your lives.
This article is entitled April Showers. You are familiar with the adage that “April Showers Bring May Flowers.” That is absolutely correct. The rain that we have been experiencing will nourish the ground and continue to fuel Spring’s explosion. The rain clouds and dreary weather are unpleasant at the time, but the end result is something beautiful and desirable. You know what? The bumps and trials in our lives are unpleasant, unsavory and undesirable at the time, but the end results can be something beautiful in our lives and the lives of others as well. This most recent disturbance to the “normal” of our everyday lives is no different. While the damage that it has caused is real and very painful for those who have been directly impacted, there is very much good that has come from its presence. For the first time in a long time there are those who are stating that they are spending time developing their walks with Christ. The excuse of “not having time” has been taken away and they are capitalizing on the “down-time” they now have. Children have expressed delight in being able to eat together as a family again as the pace of life has slowed down quite considerably. Families are together. The body of Christ is checking in on each other. And not being able to meet together has given people a hunger and a desire for the Word. My prayer is that all of these things will continue once things get back to “normal”. In fact, I hope that the patterns we are now forming will become our “new normal”!
But nonetheless, this is a time of unparalleled disruption and distress for many. With that in mind, let us consider Psalm 116:1-2 where the psalmist declares, “I love the Lord, because He hath heard my voice and my supplications. Because He hath inclined His ear unto me, therefore will I call upon Him as long as I live.” The word inclined has the connotation of a daddy (or mommy) kneeling down on one knee to embrace their crying child. That is an awesome thought! I want to encourage each of us to see the pains and brokenness we suffer as opportunities to “cry out to Jesus” and allow Him to use them to make something beautiful in our lives, just like April showers.
Let us press on together, check in on one another, and let us be steadfast
in encouraging one another to keep our eyes on Christ!
Happy Easter Hesston Chapel!!!
Pastor Scott Decker