On the cross he hung, dripping in blood.
His death was a violent one. Brutal, bloody, unfair. His loved ones stood by and watched him go. He bowed his head in submission as he gave up his spirit and descended into hell.
Christians hear a lot about the Crucifixion. So much so, that I think it may fall on deaf ears. I'm not saying we should speak about the Crucifixion less--but I'm saying we need to tell the whole story.
Yes, He was crucified and He was buried on Friday. And (spoiler alert) He returned to life on Sunday.
But Saturday was silence. There was no clarity. There was only chaos, pain, and hurt. Death deceived the even the wisest into believing it had won.
The day after a loved one dies is a strange day. The initial shock of grief is over and the sorrow has set in. It opens the door of your heart, enters without knocking, kicks its shoes off in the foyer and walks right into your kitchen to make himself a cup of tea. It plans on staying awhile and making this heartache as miserable as possible.
If you can, remember the day following the death of a loved one. These are the days that you walk around like a zombie, not sure how to respond to any given situation. My heart hurts thinking about Mary and the disciples walking around Jerusalem like zombies, eyes glazed over, hearts beating shallowly.
This was their day of silence. They had hope, because the disciples knew he would rise on the third day. However, the jarring reality of watching the brutal death of a loved one would make anyone's head spin. Despite their hope, trust, and assurance in Jesus's eternal life, they still experienced the normal agony and misery associated with any other earthly death.
They had no vision of the next day. They hadn't felt the joy that would come in the morning.
We, as humans, are more than familiar with this sensation. I love this quote by C.S. Lewis: "We are not necessarily doubting that God will do the best for us; we are wondering how painful the best will turn out to be." We get stuck in seasons of silence-- Saturdays of sorrow-- all the time.
Being stuck in a season of silence is like being stuck in a constant state of stagnancy. You long to be out of the situation you're currently in and you're so confused as to why God is withholding. I'm in multiple seasons of silence right now on many fronts, as I'm sure most people are.
But the truth is: He's not a withholding God. He didn't withhold His son's resurrection on the third day. Jesus rose with the sun the next morning, as will you. And Jesus knew He was going to rise again.
Max Lucado, one of my favorite Christian authors, puts it this way and I honestly cannot phrase it better myself:
"Jesus knew God would not leave him alone in the grave. You need to know, God will not leave you alone with your struggles. His silence is not his absence, inactivity is never apathy. Saturdays have their purpose. They let us feel the full force of God’s strength. Had God raised Jesus fifteen minutes after the death of His son, would we have appreciated the act? Were He to solve your problems the second they appear, would you appreciate His strength?
For His reasons, God inserts a Saturday between our Fridays and Sundays. If today is one for you, be patient. As one who endured the silent Saturday wrote: “Be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord” (James 5:7 NKJV)."
Don't fear the Saturdays. The Saturdays, as dark and hopeless as they may seem, are full of glory, too. Trust the Saturdays. Trust the hope that lies in silence. And look forward to the bright Sundays, dripping in His wine-soaked forgiveness.
I turn 19 next week and the thought of this literally makes me question all things, because I remember my fifth birthday party like it was yesterday and as far as I'm aware, it was yesterday. But time passes faster than I'm willing to recognize, so here we are. I'm almost 19 and life goes on.
So, without further ado, here are the 19 main lessons I've taken away from this little thing I'm embarking on called "life."
Out of these 19 things, I have mastered approximately 0 of them. They're all things I know in my heart. I carry them with me. I know I'll never fully master them but I'm so glad there's grace.
If you're familiar with music, then you're familiar with the sensation of getting a song stuck in your head.
Today the phrase "you split the sea so I could walk right through it" began circulating through my head like a hamster wheel.
This phrase stems from one of my most favorite worship songs of all-time: "No Longer Slaves" by Jonathan David & Melissa Helser. If you haven't heard this song yet, please go listen to it. It fills you with this worshipful, hopeful bravado and makes you wanna lift your hands while listening to it in the car (speaking from experience)!!
With the words on a loop in my brain, I began to debate the meaning of those words: "you split the sea so I could walk right through it." I realized I had never given them much thought before.
Obviously, this is a reference to the Lord parting the Red Sea for Moses in Exodus 14. But how does it relate to the rest of the song as a whole?
When you really think about it, this entire song is a tribute to Moses' story and how the Lord used the slavery and bondage of the Israelites to diminish fear in the land.
Pharaoh was threatened by the great amount of Israelite children that were being born in Egypt. At one point, Pharaoh even ordered all male Israelite babies to be killed at birth so that they would have no chance of rising up against the Egyptian kingdom in their adulthood. Moses was born during this time, so his mother hid him for 3 months so that he wouldn't be found by the Pharaoh.
When 3 months had passed, his mother placed him in a small basket and sent him down a river, hoping that someone would find him and raise him, unaware of his Israelite descent. Ironically, it was Pharaoh's daughter who located Moses. She took him in and discovered who his mother was. Pharaoh's daughter was more compassionate than her father, so she allowed Moses' mother to nurse him until he was old enough to be raised as her son--thus, Pharaoh would never find out about Moses' true heritage.
Although Moses is raised in the home of Pharaoh, he is aware of his true origin. Later in his life, he sees an Egyptian man beating an Israelite and, in his great anger and fury, kills the Egyptian for harming one of his own. When Pharaoh hears of this, he sends out orders for Moses' death, but Moses is able to flee to the desert of Midian just in time. He dwells there for 40 years, in captivity with many other Israelites under Egyptian bondage. This is where things get interesting.
You know the story. God speaks to Moses through a burning bush, a fire that is not consuming the bush but instead burning without harming the bush. God tells Moses that he has heard the cries of the Israelites, and he plans on setting them free--but Moses is to be the one who will deliver them.
Moses is like, "No." Moses is terrified. He tells the Lord, "Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?" (Exodus 3:11). He thinks so little of himself that he asks, Who am I that God should ask me to take on this task? Surely He knows I'm incompetent and incapable. Moses pleads with God not to send him on the journey, even reminding Him of his speech impediment. The Lord responds to this, "Who gave human beings their mouths? Who makes them deaf or mute? Who gives them sight or makes them blind? Is it not I, the Lord? Now go, I will help you speak and will teach you what to say." (Exodus 4:11-12)
Despite his many crippling fears, Moses goes--because God saw through his fears and called them by name. Moses leads 600,000 Israelites into Egypt to protest against Pharaoh. God sends ten plagues to Egypt, each one of which signifies something different. The final plague, the death of all the firstborn children, breaks Pharaoh. Completely destroys him. After this, Pharaoh lets the Israelites go. He has no other choice.
As all of the Israelites leave Egypt, Pharaoh changes his mind again. He decides to chase after them with his expansive army in order to try and get them back. He seeks their enslavement, he thrives off their services.
From their campsite, the Israelites see the Egyptian army on the horizon. As you can imagine, the poor Israelites are terrified and cry out to God for help. At this point, though, Moses gets it. He boldly stands up and cries out, "Do not be afraid. Stand firm, and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today will never see again. The Lord will fight for you; you only need to be still." (Exodus 14: 13-14)
And fight for them, the Lord does. The Lord tells Moses to raise his staff and stretch his hands over the Red Sea "to divide the water so that the Israelites to go through the sea on dry ground." (Exodus 14:16)
In all of God's goodness, He didn't just use this experience to protect the Israelites, He used it so that the "Egyptians would know that I am the Lord when I gain glory through Pharaoh, his chariots and his horsemen." (Exodus 14:18) He took a life-or-death situation with no foreseeably positive outcome and used both Moses's uncertainty and the Egyptians' disobedience to make something beautiful.
Then it happens. Exodus 14:21-22 says that "Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and all that night the Lord drove the sea back with a strong east wind and turned it into dry land. The waters were divided, and the Israelites went through the sea on dry ground, with a wall of water on their right and on their left."
I know sometimes we don't really pause to think about the gravity of miracles that were performed in Biblical times, but bear with me for a moment. In the wake of distress, God's faithfulness stretched beyond emotional and physical healing for Moses and his fleet. He provided both of those things, but beyond that, in tenfold, even considering the rebellious Egyptian soldiers who didn't know Him. He took the time to heal both the oppressed and the oppressor.
He split the sea so we could walk right through it. He SPLIT THE SEA. He broke all known barriers of physics so that he could preserve the lives of His people.
In the following lines of "No Longer a Slave," Melissa Helser sings, "My fears are drowned in perfect love." Isn't this paradoxical? The idea that we could be drowned in perfect love just after the sea is split so that we could walk right through it?
But here's the thing. He drowns us in perfect love even when we think we aren't in His line of sight. We're always drowning. But he preserves us by breaking all the ideas our flesh perceives as impossible. The ability to breathe while drowning? Impossible.
Not when God's in control, though. With God's divine guidance, we can be simultaneously drowning in His love yet also living the most full and free life we've ever lived. And because of this, we are no longer slaves to anything: fear, hurt, anger, sorrow, depression, inadequacy, brokenness-- you name it, we are set free from it.
So live like that. Live like you are fully loved by a Father who split the literal sea so that He could drown your insecurities in His love-- all so you could see Him, know Him, and be covered in His grace.
That's all I got for y'all today. Thanks for sticking with me!