We share the highs and lows of our faith-walk and our humanity. It’s a safe place that invites vulnerability and imparts validation. So we circle up and open up. We offer ourselves, the best of it and the worst of it.
The high points bring praise to our lips–the hard things suck the breath right out of us.
One of us admits that bitterness and anger are rooted in her heart, how she doesn’t want it there but how she feels powerless to remove it. A few of us offer tidbits of our forgiveness journeys and encourage her to keep moving toward it.
Another testifies of the phenomenal faithfulness of God to save her son from addiction and certain death–how he now serves in his church and boldly shares his faith. There is a collective voice of praise.
The joy is followed by the pain-laden words of a mother who recently discovered her son’s lifeless body. His accidental overdose followed on the heels of a hopeful run of clean recovery. Through her barely controlled anguish she reveals his overdose may have been the end punctuation to his life ravaged by the pain of addiction but it wasn’t the end of the story or the final commentary on her son.
With bravery born of desperate faith, she confesses that she doesn’t question God in any of it.
No words are offered–what can be spoken in the face of this loss? Yet, the deep sighing groans of motherhood escape our faces etched in empathy and they lay as validation of her pain.
Amid the collective needs of provision, healing, restoration of messy relationships and salve for broken hearts we turn our hearts to the gospels and revisit Jesus’ post-ressurrection encounter with his followers.
He didn’t have to come back after the resurrection.
The penalty of our sin was satisfied and Jesus could have remained in Heaven with His Father. After all he’d already suffered the indignities of our humanity, traversed the mocking unbelief, extreme suffering and vile hatred. He’d encountered the betrayal of friends, survived the flesh-tearing scourge, endured an excruciating crucifixion and descended to face Satan and take the keys of hell, death and the grave.
IT WAS FINISHED! From a contractual standpoint every i was dotted and every t was crossed. He was off the hook–so to speak.
We revisit the account of Jesus’ post-resurrection encounters with his bewildered and bedraggled followers recorded in Luke 24.
Is anyone feeling this with me?
Yes. The words he spoke during that time are powerful and pivotal.
“Behold my hands, my feet…it is I Myself.”
But the thing that pulls me into the swoon of this passage is that his love for us compelled Him to return and search us out.
I just imagine that extra mile walk with his followers. He returns to prove, not only that he is the Risen Savior–as he promised–but that He will forever be the one who walks beside us.
The thing that really gets me?
He returns in the reassuring form of flesh, checks up on us, settles our hearts and boosts our lagging confidence with his unfailing promise before he sends us out.
It is, to me, the equivalent of him tucking us back in and kissing us goodnight after our fears have rattled our faith and robbed our peace.
He settles us.
His parting action, as recorded in Luke 24:50, is to raise his hands and bless them–to bless us.
We then gather ourselves and our belongings and we exit the prayer room infused with a fresh reminder of God’s nearness. It bolsters our faith as we walk out the hard places.
“Behold! It is I Myself. Trust me!”