Of Fridays Past & Future Joy

“It must have been sad when Jesus died,” I remember thinking, as I went through Good Friday services as a child. Even at a young age, I thought of Jesus’s friends and followers, of Mary Magdelene and Peter and doubting Thomas, of how Jesus told John to look after his mother, as he hung from the cross.

But Sunday always came swiftly, ever beautiful and painted with spring, making us all happy again.

I remember one Easter in particular, when I was quite young. It was the first time I’d discovered the Easter bunny and it was a glorious morning indeed. I couldn’t believe my eyes at the chocolate trail leading from my room to a pile of presents in the living room. It was a gold mine. My own gold mine. I was so excited that I picked up my sister’s chocolate, too!

And I recall these strange thoughts running through my head, as I contemplated my childish joy. I often spoke to myself aloud and I did then. I remember saying, “I’m not going to sing again,” “I’m not going to play dolls again,” and the like. I still don’t understand exactly why I said those words. But perhaps suddenly, as I was hit by that sweet five-year-old bliss, I thought I’d got it all, I thought I didn’t need to keep on trying, I thought my joy was complete at last.

That was a long, long time ago now.

Now I sit in church on Good Friday, watching a beautiful service unfold, much like the one it was last year. It’s one of five services happening around town and so various members of the church community gather in my own place of worship today. I enjoy the beauty, try to worship, and contemplate it all.

But I’m distracted, caught up in the memory of Fridays past. Of Easters gone by. My thoughts lead me far through life and back again to the present as the band starts up again and we take the communion cup.

I’m wearing black today. But I remember a Good Friday when I wore a light blue dress and greeted visitors at the door. I was just a baby then, in my faith, in my growth, in personhood. There were so many things then I had yet to do and know and learn. My immaturity, the poor decisions, the bitter disappointments of past days haunt me as I sit in the pew. Sometimes I hate to think of what and who I was. But I remember the fragrant joy with which I had towards life, and the love I was growing for God and church and people, the love that was only beginning, the love that still churns now.

“And if only I knew then…” So many things. So many words. So many problems.

Four years ago, I was fifteen, sitting perhaps in the same row, in a blue dress. I remember the older Dutch man who became a friend to me and my family that year and that day in particular, as he helped us greet folks at the door. But that was four years ago and a lot can change in time and now he’s not even here and he won’t be coming back.

“It must have been sad when Jesus died…” I think again. I’m sure it was, for his friends and followers. But then He rose again.

I remember that dear old Easter when a trail of chocolate made my little heart soar high. He came to make our joy complete.

I remember the person I was yesterday, last year, and four years ago. The pain, the mistakes, the strife. He came to change us, to set us free, to give us life.

I remember the ones who have died, the ones who will never sit in church pews again. I regret, I mourn, and I wonder. He came so that we might never die, so that we could live forever, so that we could find perfection with Him.

Good Friday reminds me of the strife of this world. It reminds me that there is something better, even than a living room full of chocolate. And with it all, I remember the joy past, and most of all, the joy that is yet to come.

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The Journey Back

It has been exactly three weeks since my last post. Three weeks! That’s never happened in the history of my blog ever. Not that I’ve been blogging for a dozen years or anything, but still my absence came as a shock to me. I didn’t intend to stop. It just sort of happened. I had ideas, but I guess there wasn’t much motivation to write them.

When I left, I was feeling a lack of faith. I was starting to write a bit about renewal, but I am afraid that a lot of my posts were kind of dismal. I was going through some difficult things. In fact, I’ve been going through difficult times since January. For some reason, the words just flowed from me then. I guess I just got tired. I realized that there wasn’t much more I could say about faith and a lack of it until I knew that I had mine back.

Little did I know that these last three months have been the journey back to faith. Yes, every bit of these last three months. Even the lack of faith and the difficult times. Everything.

I’d been reaching for God since the end of summer. It’s funny because life was awesome back then yet I couldn’t feel His presence in the way that I wanted. So I’d pray that He would come to me in “that crazy way” at church and every worship event. I even prayed for tears a couple of times. But I always went home with dry cheeks and a discouraged heart.

And then January hit with more emotion than I expected. There was deep joy and deep sorrow at the same time. Maybe one day I shall write about what made me incredibly happy and extremely sad. I wish that I could now, but the matters are all too personal. All I can say now is that the joy and sorrow alike were just what I needed.

On Easter, I realized that I am alive in the Spirit again. It puzzled me because not that long ago I would have told you otherwise. Now, I realize that I was on that journey all along. I just didn’t realize it. Now, I see the fullness and beauty of that journey. Every step, every stone, every path has molded me into the person that I am today. I have taken another journey and my heart has been restored.

I apologize for my absence on your blogs lately. I’ll try and catch up over the next couple of days. Hopefully, my “writer’s mind” has returned to me because I really have missed blogging and I have so many great ideas that I cannot wait to put into words!

The Sun Has Risen

Even when the night is long and unending, despite the unceasing thunder and rain of the storm, bad weather  never stays forever and in the end the sun always rises and wipes away the sorrow of the past. The sun may often be hard or impossible for us to see but even in the worst storm it is still there and it will always rise again after the night is done.

It is sometimes hard to understand why the darkness had to come and ruin the perfect day or the storm had to take the fun out of the picnic on the beach….just like we cannot always see why things work out the way they do…why loved ones must die, why jobs must be lost, why loneliness must be felt, why sad feelings cannot be suppressed…why a perfect man must be flogged and beaten and die among criminals for an undeserving world of sinners. It is strange, really it is. It seems cloudy to me why these things have occurred and continue to happen. But then the Sun rises and light appears and the fullness of  the promise is shown.

We still don’t understand exactly why the sun seemed to show up out of the blue after the rain or how sun could appear after a night so dark. We don’t know why we’ve suffered or they’ve suffered or why He did it…for us. There is so much we don’t know or understand. But we do know one thing and that is that the Sun has risen and because of that, death has been put to death and life has been brought to life.

Jesus died for us but He has risen! We do not have to die but we can live! Rejoice! Be glad! The storm is gone and the Sun has come!

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.

John 11:25-26