Divine Bread/Living Water: There Can Be Only OneJune 11, 2017
Roman 15:12-13 "The Root of Jesse will spring up, one who will arise to rule over the nations; in him, even the Gentiles will hope." May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
recently stood in a cemetery and looked out across thousands of headstones and monuments pondering the stories of all those folks lying beneath them. I stood but a step from the spot where someday (I hope many years from now) I too, will rest when I am done with this world. There before my gaze was a wide variety of markers; many were large and elaborate and many quite simple and small. The range of investment in these markers was great. No doubt those that rose higher than my head reflected great wealth and influence while many were so small and insignificant they would be missed by anyone passing just a few feet away. Though the size, design and the cost of these stones varied immensely, the great equalizer was the cold earth below them where the earthly dwellings lay silently and helplessly. Not one of them could now speak, touch, smell, hear or feel any longer.
My mind returned to 1988 when I stood on the tomb of Henry VIII at the chapel at Windsor Castle in England and experienced the same musings. That is, that death and the grave were the great equalizer for all men. Eventually they capture the royalty as well as the rabble, the rich and the poor, the famous and the infamous, the kind and the cruel. Earthly value is balanced out when earthly life is through. All men can be sure that the cold earth awaits whether they be boxed, burned or torn asunder. What a startling reality; such sober thoughts. Regardless of our lot - we all end up equally dead; our bodies returning to the carbon from which we were formed.
The dark silence of the moment was suddenly broken by the sounds of birds, the wind and passing cars on the road nearby; the present returned to my mind leaving me to reflect on how precious and powerful hope has become to me. Hope has the power to see beyond the cold earth. Hope keeps longing for the light beyond the darkness, the rest beyond the struggle, the joy after sorrow, the embraces of tenderness that sweep away anxieties.
This hope I have extends back to that first Sunday morning after Messiah had been killed. The earth shook and Jesus stood in light so bright it cast shadows against the distant crack of dawn. The darkness and silence of the grave of the innocent Adam was broken. The great equalizer (death) had now given up the first fruits of hope. No longer were cemeteries destined to hold mankind for eternity. The souls of the captives had ascended Jacobs ladder to the footstools of Abba's glory and Messiah had snatched the keys to death and hell from the enemy of God and His creation. No longer would men live in hell because they had to - they would only live in hell if they chose to.
While I believe hell is a real place, I also believe it is a state of being. Hopelessness is the instrument of hell. It is a state of being that looks forward only to the equalizer of the grave. It is a life lived with the inevitable ending of the cold earth wrapped in darkness; silent, unfeeling, cold and alone. Hopelessness can simultaneously lead some men to fight death tooth and nail while others leap toward it by the means of their own hands.
But hopefulness brings faith, faith reaches out to Christ, Christ brings life, abundant life in us and around us. Since heaven is where Christ lives - we can experience heaven on earth. We can experience this because of hope - the hope realized on that first Easter Sunday morning when the hopelessness of a silent tomb lost and the hopefulness of everlasting life won.
Prayer for the Day
Abba, You have given me great reasons to be hopeful. Jesus has overcome death and raised the hope of eternal life with him. No longer does the specter of the cold earth constrain my thinking. No longer will I live in fear of deaths grip. I will hope beyond this life, beyond the grave, and extend my hope toward the place where you dwell. I confess there is hopefulness in every moment because of the presence of Your life in me. In Messiahs' name, Amen.