Saturday, April 23, 2011

Without Seeing

I love Easter.  It means new life for those of us who believe that Jesus, the Son of God went willingly to the cross to make a way for us to experience life abundantly.  No longer stuck.  No longer shackled.  Free to live in fullness.  Yes, I celebrate this in my own life today.  Somehow, in all my frailty and failings I move His heart.  You and I move the very heart of God.  So much so, that He sent his son to this earth - to shatter our darkness and bring us joy and life.  Is that unbelievable or what??!!

John 10:10 sums up what Jesus came to this world for beautifully.  He says:

"The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly."

Jesus rescued us.  And He didn't just die on the cross so that we could go to heaven.  He rescued and paid the price for us so that we can live ABUNDANTLY now.  Today.  This very moment. 

Many of us might just be trying to get through the day.  Life can be hard, there's no doubt about it.  It can feel exhausting and most days we have more questions than answers.  The circumstances of life can lead us to doubt God's intentions toward us.  But they are clear from scripture - He came to give us abundant life.  Abundant means "present in great quantity; more than adequate; oversufficient: well supplied; abounding: richly supplied".  He has made a way for us to live our lives richly supplied - despite our circumstances. 

Remember Thomas in the Bible? Doubting Thomas.  He had been convinced that Jesus was the Messiah - the One that was going to right all the wrongs.  Yet, as Jesus hung on a cross and died a bloody, gruesome death, I imagine his hope drained as Jesus' blood flowed out from His body, and as He took His last breath. 

It's no wonder that when Thomas' friends told him that Jesus was no longer dead and that He had risen from the grave, that Thomas didn't believe them.  Along with the death of Jesus had come the death of his hopes and dreams.  He told his friends "Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it."  A week later Thomas and his friends are hanging out behind locked doors and suddenly Jesus appears out of nowhere. 

Thomas doesn't believe it's Jesus, but then Jesus says to him "Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.” Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”
Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

Ouch.  Don't I want to see?  Don't I want to see with my eyes answers to my prayers?  Don't I want some sort of proof that God is worth it? That He's real and that He's good? I want to see, but Jesus is saying that those who believe without seeing are blessed.

It makes me think about my friend, Elizabeth back in Uganda.  She is around 17 years old and her mother died of AIDS while she was young and so she grew up with an alcoholic father who abused her.  Then the Lord's Resistance Army invaded her village and she was forced to flee from her home.  She and her sister did their best to survive and get by on their own.  She ended up at a school where she lives now, trying to get an education so she has some sort of hope for a future.  Everything in her life has been difficult and unstable.  But look at her.

Those eyes have seen so much in her young life.  Yet she smiles, and believe me, it's not forced.  She smiled almost the whole time I was with her.  You would think someone with her life experiences would be embittered, angry and doubtful of God's intentions towards her.  But, she's not.  She believes without seeing.  I asked her what she wanted more than anything and she responded "to serve the Lord".  She loves God so passionately it just radiates from her.  People would look at her life and hear her story and say that she has no reason to believe in God...there are few external circumstances in her life that point towards a God who loves and cares for her. 

But she knows it.  She believes it deeply.  She believes without seeing.  She believes without doubting, unlike Thomas.  And there's something about her countenance, about her words, about the fervor with which she speaks.  She is living in the blessing Jesus promised those who have not yet seen but believed.

“Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

I think that like Thomas, Jesus knows that sometimes we need to see Him.  That we need evidence of His presence and movement in our lives.  But, man, I want a heart like Elizabeth's.  I want to be able to know and trust God's love for me in the middle of circumstances that make no sense.  I want the blessing of believing without doubting.

May this Easter be one of choosing to believe even when we don't see.  May we trust in the love that compelled the God of the universe to send His son to earth to die so that we might live richly supplied, abundant lives through our faith in Him.

Remember this: He has been better to you and me than we deserve. We're forgiven and redeemed by the power of God. And even if He never does anything else for us, His single act of love on the cross demonstrated His goodness for all time. - Steven Furtick

No comments:

Post a Comment