Thursday, June 9th, 2011


The righteous man perishes, and no man takes it to heart; and devout men are taken away while no one understands.

For the righteous man is taken away from evil. He enters into peace.

Isaiah 57: 1, 2

 

Living in this world has a restless quality to it. In fact, simply facing tomorrow can become completely exhausting, and finding the strength to continue on from there is a merciless chore.  Yet, we fight, we strive for every day, and we hold on tenaciously to it all. However, either sooner or later, even the strongest and the most resilient of people will loss the fight to cling to this life. They leave behind a void, an emptiness that seems impossible to fill. When we lose those who are close to us, it is normal and totally natural to question the reason in it all. Why this person? Why at this time, and how does this make any sense?

 

This is a world that started out perfect, but human ambition and disobedience interrupted the complete peace of that original design. Instead of resting in God’s promise of complete love and total provision, we set out to follow a course that was charted with the guidance of an evil and destruction bent counselor. Since then humanity has existed in a state of constant strife. We are either fighting against God, and His call to righteous living, or we are undergoing a relentless assault that is staged by Satan with a ferocity that is designed to knock us off our feet and to cause us to deny Christ’s deep, sacrificial love.  How each of us responds is what most tellingly determines the nature of the legacy that we will have.

 

It requires courage, deep inner strength, and commitment to stay true to God’s calling despite all that happens to us and to people that we love. Yet, the righteous person who leaves us is in fact going to the peace of a promise that is infinitely grater than anything that is left behind. Christ takes us with Him through suffering and pain that is no greater than that which He endured, and He brings us with Him into the glory of eternity. Until that day, the rest of us are called upon by God to honor those who have gone before us by living with the same courageous faith that allowed them to finish their days with joyous anticipation of a momentary separation that is followed by an eternity together.

For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory
that has overcome the world—our faith.

1 John: 5: 4

At the end of the day that is life, the things that will still be standing are the things
that are from deep inside of us. These are the character and care oriented
values that are expressed in the relationships that we have with other people;
this is the love that we genuinely express to others.

The ability to love well and to love deeply is not a very human characteristic, for
we usually want to feel secure in what we will get back when we give deeply. We
desire the security of knowing that others will step toward us when we open up
to them; thus, we hold back and wait on the other person before risking
ourselves. And this reluctance to enter into relationships with others and to
be the one who takes the risk of reaching out to the other person is one of the
ways that evil wins in this world.

Yet, stepping out of safety and into relationship is exactly what Jesus did; He left
the known and set aside His position to become one of us, and He opened His
arms to embrace us all. He opened His heart to love everyone of us
totally, and Jesus did this before any of us demonstrated the first glimmers of
love for Him in return.

When we accept Christ and agree to let His love reside in us, we gain an eternal
victory over the forces of evil that try to keep us in fearful captivity
and that make wariness our approach to life. One of the hardest aspects of
all of this is that we are asked to do something that runs counter to intuitive
behavior, for we are asked to accept that God’s love for us is real although we
don’t see Him with our eyes. We are asked to move toward God by accepting the
call of Jesus to enter into a love relationship with Him without feeling His
touch on our skin. God asks us to have faith in Him and to accept the
testimony of thousands and millions of people who throughout history
have expressed the reality of God’s love for them. For me, God is
very visible; my heart knows that He has stepped into my life and that He
loves me completely; and my heart sees Christ in my life daily. We are all
called to be lovers of others, not for our own sakes but so that everyone
might get to know the perfect love that comes through knowing God. We are all
called to have the faith that is required to step toward Christ’s calling and
to open our arms and our hearts to others so that they might see Him, too.