easter people

One of my coworkers, a friend, a wonderful man, died this week.

In his sleep.  Sudden and unexpected.

Just like that.

Another friend’s brother died this week.  Expected but sooner than anticipated.

Shock, Sadness. Grief. Loss.

That sense of disbelief,  that this can not be real, but it is oh so real.

My friend, Judy, made this observation.

“We do not grieve as those with no hope¹.  We are Easter people.”

Easter people.  I like that.  This week of all weeks – being Easter people makes a difference.

This week, Holy Week, we remember the suffering, death and resurrection of Christ.

What it means for us who follow Jesus is that there is life after death.  His resurrection makes it so.  We have this hope of being together again because of what Jesus accomplished for us.

Of this world of life after death, God says,

He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.

easter lilies against blue sky

The sin we see, the sin we do, the sin around us in every form will be gone. The life promised to us will be in its full form.  And we will be transformed in the holy presence of our incomparable King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

Because of the death and resurrection of Jesus. we have this hope. We celebrate Him this weekend, the One who loved us so much, He would lay down His own life to save us.

We are not only forgiven now; we will be reunited with those we love who also trust Jesus. In the face of death, we grieve our losses of beloved ones, and we rejoice that they have entered His presence. We will see them again in that glorious place at the time of God’s choosing.

We have hope.

We are Easter people.

¹I Thessalonians 4:13-18

the gift of attention

There was this lovely quote posted on twitter last week.

” It is a rare and wonderful gift to simply pay attention to another person.”

How true.  When someone gives you their full attention, it is a deeply affirming experience.  Their attention says you matter.  You’re worth hearing, worth noticing, worth the time.  I appreciate it when I receive it; I desire to give full attention when I’m with people. Not always successful, but it’s my intention.

That brought a few Scripture verses to mind…

From heaven the Lord looks down and sees all mankind;
14 from his dwelling place he watches all who live on earth—
15 he who forms the hearts of all, who considers everything they do.

For many years, I thought that was all there was to God’s attention to us – He watched, wrote things down, gave a grade. He considered us and evaluated. An observer.

Another Psalm describes God’s attention to us in this way….

You know when I sit down or stand up.  You know my thoughts even when I’m far away.
You see me when I travel and when I rest at home.  You know everything I do.
You know what I am going to say even before I say it, Lord….

You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body
    and knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!
    Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.
15 You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion,
    as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.
16 You saw me before I was born.

How precious are your thoughts about me,[b] O God.
    They cannot be numbered!
18 I can’t even count them;
    they outnumber the grains of sand!

That’s not a disinterested observer.  That’s an actively involved, incredibly engaged Creator!

And one of my favorites …

I will lead you in the way you should go.  I will counsel you with My eye upon you.

My thoughts about how God pays attention changed when I understood that HE understood our dilemma – that we couldn’t live up to His standards.  There is no amount of self-effort that could make that work. So, HE did something about it– He made a way for our sin to be paid for.

… God demonstrates His own love for us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

  God’s attention to us is beyond understanding. a rare and wonderful gift indeed.  It’s hard to comprehend Someone who could love so generously without condition on the one being loved.  But that is Who He Is – the God who sees.  The One who Pays Attention…

to each of us.

Scriptures:  Psalm 33:13-15; Psalm 139: 2-4, 13-15, 17,18 NLT
Psalm 32:8; Romans 5:8 NASB

3 thoughts about Noah

I did it.  I saw the movie Noah.

I have always been captivated by the logistics of this story. Two of every kind of creature inside an ark. A forty day deluge of rain.  A catastrophic flood that wiped out the human race. A year together in that space.  The physicality of the challenge is amazing. And I love that God gave the rainbow,as a promise that He would never destroy the earth again by flood.

But there are a few things about this story that have lingered in my thoughts and  captured my attention again and again….

Adi Holzer

Die Sintflut Adi Holzer

The first is God’ s response to what humans had done.  He “regretted that He had made human beings on the earth, and His heart was deeply troubled.” The words are powerful and lead me to think about what God desires.

The wickedness of man was very great.  The earth was full of violence. 

Every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.

Deeply grieved, one translation says.  Mourning the loss of what was good and right.  “Only evil all the time” was not what God had in mind at the creation.

His Kingdom, founded on love and truth, could not flourish in these conditions. It is expressed in  justice, forgiveness, humility, trust, generosity. It reflects His ways – creating, growing, life.

People were intent on evil, the very opposite of what Jesus taught.  The film actually does a great job showing the ultimate outcome of self-centered living.  “I can do as I please” without regard to any of God’s creation is ultimately so destructive.

Adi Holzer

Die Grosse Flut Adi Holzer

What would you do? Imagine you are Noah.  You receive an instruction to build an ark. The proportions are astounding. Four stories high, this floating zoo,  the length – roughly one and a half times an American football field and the width of six 2014 Toyota Corollas parked end to end- was no small task.

Given that there are no other details about what he experienced, we can only speculate from our own point of view.  Can you imagine what the conversation was like with his family?  Can you envision what it would be like to start building something that size?  Without doubt, he would be mocked, laughed at, and categorically ridiculed as a fool or crazy person. Or perhaps threatened as the film depicted?

He did everything God told him to do.

That’s what you do when God tells you to do something.

The movie introduces a storyline not in the text.  There was no controversy over wives (at least in the way depicted), because Noah’s sons and their wives entered the ark together. God did indeed provide for them. Nor does it imply that Noah had the decision of life and death in his hands.  He did everything God told him to do.

There is a hundred years between Noah’s first mention and when his family entered the ark.  That is both faith and faithfulness.  Faith to start, faithfulness to finish.  The ark, a huge achievement on its own, was really only the trigger event.  The Lord then gave them the same mandate He gave Adam and Eve:  be fruitful and multiply.  Indeed, a fresh start.

Postscript

Jesus describes His own return to earth with a reference to Noah.

As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be with the coming of the Son of Man.  For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and they did not understand until the flood came and took them all away; so will the coming of the Son of Man be. Then there will be two men in the field; one will be taken and one ]will be left. 41 Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one will be left.  Therefore be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming.  Mt 24:36-42

What else is there to say about that?  We are the same.  The activities of daily life can lull us into a dazed flurry, running from here to there, forgetting that there is an end to this story coming. His return will be glorious, and I hope to see it.

I want to be ready – to live in a way that I will have brought pleasure rather than grief to God’s heart, and will have done what the Lord has told me to do.  Like Noah.

How about you?

Images are by Adi Holzer, from Wikimedia Commons.  
Scriptures are from NIV, Zondervan.
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