Saturday, April 28, 2012

The Message From Titanic

“1,500 people went into the sea when Titanic sank from under us. There were twenty boats floating nearby, and only one came back. One. Six were saved from the water, myself included. Six, out of 1,500. Afterward, the 700 people left in the boats had nothing to do but wait... wait to die, wait to live, wait for an absolution, which would never come.”  -Rose, Titanic

            I recently watched James Cameron’s Titanic with my family. It was the first time I had seen it in six years or so. I routinely give my students a hard time about the movie, especially the girls who are all swoony over the love story between the nonexistent Jack and Rose. I tell them that Jack had to die, because in reality, a marriage between those two would have never worked out. Jack was a nice guy and all, and even honorable when given the opportunity. But he had to die heroically, sacrificially. Had they married, Rose would have gotten fed up with him rather quickly. She would have told him to get a real job instead of trying to eke out an existence drawing pictures. He would have gotten angry and called her a spoiled brat. But for those few, shining days aboard the Ship of Dreams, they saw the best of each other. Jack died to save Rose’s life, and she could carry that ideal of him with her forever. In that sense, it is indeed a beautiful love story.

            Real love stories are even better, though. To me, the love between the Strausses, who were only briefly shown in this version of the tale, would make a much better movie. I would love to see a film about them, about what they endured and overcame together over the course of fifty plus years of marriage. His refusal to get on a boat because he was a man,and her refusal to leave his side-that’s good stuff. It’s the real thing. I would be willing to bet that during all those years of marriage there were rough patches. There were hard times and arguments. Maybe they quarreled over silly things and then realized they were being stupid and made up, and he took her out to dinner. After so many years together, they were as one. There could be no separation. So they chose to go down with the ship, hands clasped, united. That’s love.

            As the ship was going down, families struggled to stay together. That’s what families are supposed to do. The band played on until the Boat Deck dipped under. They stayed at their post. That’s honor. The captain went down with his ship, as a good captain does. His body was never recovered. Meanwhile, the cowardly Bruce Ismay, president of the White Star Line, managed to slip onto a lifeboat and was saved-but for what? He was later so destroyed by the press and by his conscience that his health broke down and he died a lonely and haunted man. More first-class men were saved on that night than third-class children, because class distinctions trumped the rule of “Women and children first.” People justified their actions by talking about the chaos, the confusion, the cold. They defended themselves by saying that no one who was not actually there could possibly understand the terrible, intense horror. That is very true. Nevertheless, Benjamin Guggenheim and his butler when down “like gentlemen”, dressed in their evening dinner attire. John Jacob Astor, millionaire, also conducted himself like a man, going down with the ship after convincing his young, pregnant wife to get on a lifeboat. “You go and I’ll stay awhile.” Their Airedale, Kitty, was seen pacing the deck in bewilderment just before the ship sank, searching for her master…searching…

            It is these reports of heartbreak and heroism, of cowardice and class ,that make the story of the Titanic a source of endless fascination and speculation. There is debate as to what song was played at the last, while the band was still able to play. Nearer, My God, to Thee, certainly makes for the best story, and I prefer it myself, but the real point is that every band member died. They were people, real human beings with lives and families and friends. Every soul on that ship was a person. The 705 survivors, for the most part, preferred not to talk much about the experience. The last survivor, who was an infant when the ship went down, died not long ago. There are hundreds of untold stories, things that we will never know. Secrets and joys and sorrows. Desperation and wonder. They were all buried with the Titanic. The arrogance of those responsible, those who called it “The ship God Himself could not sink”, are reminders to us of the cost of that kind of pride. The courage of those who could have been saved but refused to leave loved ones or who simply followed God’s command of esteeming others better than themselves are reminders of that kind of selflessness. But there is one more message, one more lesson. It’s the thing that life always comes back to.Love.

            As the hundreds who were plunged into the icy waters of the Atlantic on that freezing April night began to realize that they were doomed, that they were dying, as they ceased to struggle and accepted their fate, they began calling out to one another across the dark, merciless sea. Eyewitness accounts stated that there was one thing repeated over and over, to friends, children, parents, husbands, wives. It was I love you. In the end, love is all that matters. It was what I whispered to my father as they took him away to surgery, and I knew deep in my soul that I would never see him again. It is what my husband tells our children and I every morning as he drops us off at school. It is what I tell my mother every time I talk to on the phone, before I hang up. I say it to my students, my sisters, my friends. I even say it to my dogs. Because you just never know what will happen at any given moment. Ships sink, even those said to be unsinkable. Accidents happen. Illnesses occur. Tragedies, big and small, may be just around the corner. We live in a world that, despite its incredible beauty and goodness, is sinful and fallen and yes, sometimes cruel.

            God Himself is not cruel. In Taylor Caldwell’s wonderful novel Tender Victory, young Jean, a victim of a World War II concentration camp who was kicked and beaten and may be a cripple for life, looks at his adoptive father and smiles sadly. “Yes, Papa. I understand. It is the world.” Jean has come to a saving knowledge of his Heavenly Father, of Christ’s atonement and great mercy, but he understands that the world does not see Him, that the world rejects His amazing Love. He saved us by His death because He knew there was no other way. We weren’t going to change on our own. We couldn’t. So he did Something. He did the craziest, most unimaginable thing there was. He suffered and died so that we could know Love. Those who died on Titanic that others might live were reflecting His sacrifice. If there is any purpose at all served by the Jack and Rose subplot of the film, it is Jack’s willingness to die for her.

            Without Jack and Rose, however, even without them, the truth of the real story still shines. At the very end, those who died knew that all you need is love. John Lennon understood that. I don’t know if the Beatles realized the importance of that message-but maybe they did. I believe it is built into all of us, this desire for Something, this craving for Love. I hope that each of the 705 survivors of Titanic went on to live lives that were successful-not by the narrow view and definition that we often have of “success”, but that they found fulfillment, that they found God-that they found Love.

            “He saved me, in every way that a person can be saved.” Rose said this of Jack. He saved her from a life of meaninglessness and shallowness, and then he saved her physically. So it is with Jesus. He saves us in every way, so that when we leave this life, there is before us Eternity. But what we stay alive for, as John Keating says in Dead Poet’s Society, are things like romance, beauty, Truth. We live to love and be loved. As the Word says, “Make Love your aim.”

“For faith, hope, and love remain, these three, but the greatest of these is love.”

Sunday, April 22, 2012

For Such a Time as This

 I saw a painting at the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts. I, in fact, sat and stared at it for quite some time. It was speaking to my soul and I needed to listen. God is doing something in me right now and I’m not quite sure where He is going with it. I just have to keep trying to hear His voice as I move along through my life. I’ve had some significant stumbles in recent years, but it always comes back around to being still and KNOWING that He is God.  The painting, called "Foundation" depicts a teacher and some children in front of a schoolhouse, raising the American flag.Behind them are beautiful green rolling hills; above them, a vast, incredible sky.

                Friday morning, very early, my husband and I set out on one of the mini-trips that we sometimes get to take. Like most of the others, this was school-related as it involved a writing workshop in connection with the Alabama Book Festival. We have been to these workshops several times and they are always very informative as well as fun. This time, we decided to stay for the Book Festival since we had never been, and then hit the art museum before heading home as it is one of our happiest and most favorite places on earth.  I think that if we lived in Montgomery, we would probably go there every day. Just sitting and watching the ducks on the water is a balm to my spirit.

                The trip was uneventful but pleasant, as we rode in the half-dark and the fog and then saw the sun come up slowly on the horizon. Beautiful. We talked a lot-about our students, our own kids, fond memories of past road trips, books, music, God, life-the things we usually talk about when we get the chance to be alone together. We talked about where we are now as opposed to where we imagined we would be, and we talked of the future. We are not so old that we don’t still dream of possibilities. Both of us would love to become published writers, among other things, and, since we plan on living to be a hundred, we’ve still got over fifty years left.  We do not know what God has in store, but we love to think about it.

                After the workshop, we checked into the hotel and checked in with the kids, who were doing fine and seemed almost irritated about our concern. Usually when we go out of town my mom stays with them, but we thought it was time to leave them on their own. At nineteen, fifteen, and thirteen, they are certainly old enough, and they proved themselves to be just as self-sufficient and capable as we believed them to be. Is this not the goal we work toward as parents? Then why did I feel a pang of sadness?  We have spent the last seven and a half years teaching them the skills they need to be independent. They can cook, clean, do laundry, administer basic first aid, look after their pets and take care of each other. They are honest and honorable, and we have friends and family close by in case of a serious emergency. Still, when the youngest( who as recently as a year ago would say, “Daddy, call me tonight ,okay?” when she would go to spend the night with a friend )says, “What did you need, Dad?” when she answers her phone, you get the feeling that you are being outgrown.  So often now we get THE LOOK-not disrespectful, just amused and indulgent-that says, “Wow, Mom and Dad are weird.”

                We had dinner at the Bonefish Grill, a rare and delightful treat. As we were sitting there, two little girls, obviously sisters, probably ages about six and nine, came clomping past us, holding hands and giggling. They had on sparkly butterfly shirts and semi-high heels-the younger one’s shoes actually lit up-and you could tell they felt very sophisticated. I remembered the day-four years ago, maybe, or five-when Raina dressed up like a goblin and dressed Ally up like a fairy princess and they chased each other around in circles. I wonder what became of those costumes, and all their other dress-up clothes. The last time they cleaned their closet, I think they were fairly ruthless as to what they discarded. I wish now that I had asked.

                As I lay in bed on Friday night, listening to the unaccustomed sounds of the city, I remembered when I asked God to “send them”.  I didn’t mean just children of our own, but broken children-broken people-and I thought about how we were approached by a man in the parking lot earlier that evening. He said he was not a bum, which may or may not have been true, but asking him his life story is not in God’s command. We gave him what little cash we had. When someone says, “Will you help me?” there is no option, as far as I’m concerned.  This is my burden, to be my brother’s keeper, and I asked for it. I asked for it ten years ago, and even before that. I asked for it at the age of fifteen, when I stood up at a youth conference and dedicated my life to Christ and to Christian service, having no idea where that would lead. I guess I really asked for it at the age of seven, one Sunday afternoon in the car, when I invited Him in. I was a child, but God was already moving. How I now see that over the course of my life from that moment is another story for another time.

                The book festival was wonderful. We saw excerpts from a play called “Come Home,It’s Suppertime.” This included some good old gospel music, such as “I’ll Fly Away,” and a description of what  used to be known around here as “dinner on the ground”. It made me smile, but once again I felt God stirring my heart and I was transported, just for a moment, to that place where He takes me, a place that is familiar and homey and yet, I feel that I have never quite gotten there. Not all the way. He gives me glimpses of the Divine just to leave me hungry for it. The little girl sitting in the pew on Sunday morning wearing the itchy dress and the foot-pinching shoes always knew there was Something. It was not contained within the four walls and the stained-glass windows; it was so much more. I meet God in church, but I have been in churches where He was not truly welcome, only some man-made idea of Him.I have stood with my feet in the waters of the Gulf of Mexico and seen Him in the flight of a seagull, and I have experienced His Presence while working with underprivileged kids or teaching an English class. This Something that is called “salvation” is beyond what can truly be comprehended with our finite minds. It is knowing God.

                I was so grateful that I had the opportunity to visit with my friend Jim for a few minutes. He is now married and makes his home in Montgomery. We were good friends in high school, and he is among the handful of people, outside of my family, who has seen me at my worst.  My high school years were not my best time. I doubt they are anyone’s, really, and if they are, that’s kind of sad, because there are about 80 years to live after that is all over. Sure, I had fun sometimes, and I was blessed with amazing parents who saw me through the really dark places. It’s so funny that when I tell people I used to be shy, they actually laugh, and when I tell students that I went through an “emo” time, they shake their heads in disbelief. Actually, I was emo before it had a name. But through that time, I still had friends (I’m not sure why they put up with me) and, existentially despairing though my thoughts may have been, I did not doubt the existence of God. The great thing about Jesus is that He does not move, even when our faith wavers or we engage in behavior that is absolutely stupid. I try to assure my students of this because I know it from personal experience.  So, Jim-and Deb, and Heidi, and Kevin, and all of my friends-thanks for being there, then and now. All of you know that I am not like that anymore. I would say that I found God, but He was never lost to begin with-I was.

                After the book festival, we debated whether to try Korean or Vietnamese food. We went with Korean, deciding to try Vietnamese the next time around. We like to try different kinds of food, but when I saw that the menu had “hot dog stew”, I was a bit worried. Freddie, of course, played this up and nearly had me convinced that there was dog in it. I also refused to eat octopus. I have had calamari and am not fond of it; I figure octopus and squid are fairly interchangeable.  I ordered sliced beef that was seasoned with soy sauce and sugar, and it was divine. We also got a dumpling appetizer served with various sides-picked potatoes, pumpkin stems, yellow radishes-and all of it was delicious. Our waitress was a grandmotherly type who seemed miffed when we inquired about chicken soup. “Chicken soup is at Chinese restaurant. This Korean food,” she said sternly. Yes, ma’am.

                Our final stop in Montgomery was the art museum. One of the featured exhibits right now is Dale Nichols’ regional paintings. I was, as I said, mesmerized by “Foundation”. It was another one of those moments when I saw Truth so plainly. It sums up what I believe about life, about God, about the importance of education and the great responsibility teachers and parents have to provide the strong Foundation. Earlier, Jim had mentioned that he was considering the teaching profession. I told him that what keeps me as a teacher going is the handful of students who respond to my teaching, those moments when I know a student has “gotten it”.  When a kid says, “Reading To Kill a Mockingbird changed my life,” I am refueled for a month or more. The fulfillment isn’t in the daily grind or the petty details. It’s in the little moments. Life is pretty much like that anyway. The moments. Watching a little kid throw bread to the ducks and (gigantic) carp and turtles in the lake outside the museum. Rescuing one of those turtles who has gotten too brave and is sitting traumatized in the road. He was nearly crushed by the car ahead of us. Maybe the driver didn’t see him. I would rather think that than believe he didn’t care. We stopped and I got out. I have to care. I can’t help it. I put him back where he belonged. He is incapable of gratitude. Some people are, too. We just have to love them all anyway.

                On the way home we stopped at Priester’s and got milkshakes.Mine, of course, was double chocolate. I childishly wanted a stuffed owl. His name is Wol. We listened to the radio as we traveled and it seemed that every song was speaking directly to me. The Sidewalk Prophets reminded me that “I Want to Live Like That” and the Dave Crowder Band assured me of “How He Loves”. Forty-five minutes from home, an old country preacher came on and spoke for fifteen minutes about how Jesus is our best friend-and how we are supposed to tell the world this. This was the culmination of what I had been feeling for two days. This was what He wanted me to get from this trip. A reminder of Who He is, and of who I am supposed to be in Him. I was overwhelmed. I know that I cannot do this alone. When I asked God to “send them”, I was never assuming my own strength. He wasn’t either. He knows me. He sees me as I am, and loves me anyway.He sees who I can be in Him, and commands that I be His hands and feet and voice right here and now, on this planet, in every moment and to everyone and all of Creation.

“For such a time as this, I was placed upon the earth, to hear the voice of God and do His will, whatever it is/For such a time as this, for now and all the days He gives, I am here, I am here, and I am His, for such a time as this.”


Saturday, April 14, 2012

The Wonder Years

“ I grew up in the suburbs. I guess most people think of the suburbs as a place with all the disadvantages of the city, and none of the advantages of the country, and vice versa. But, in a way, those really were the wonder years for us there in the suburbs. It was kind of a golden age for kids”. –The Wonder Years ,first episode

            I’ve been a bit nostalgic lately. I don’t know if it is because summer is coming, and summer brings back so many memories, or if it’s because my son will soon be graduating from high school, or what. But I randomly burst into songs that were popular when I was young, I keep watching 80s movies on my Kindle Fire, and I have this overwhelming desire to see my old friends. (My husband was a bit disturbed when I suddenly started singing “Purple Rain” a few days ago. I explained to him that it was connected to a particular memory and that I wasn’t going to try to explain it, because you had to be there. REALLY.) My kids love it when I tell stories that start out, “This one time…”  Often these stories are about really strange and seemingly forgettable events, like when my friend Jill and I had a candy fight at the movies, and accidentally hit an old man in the head with a sourball. That was back in the days when everyone in a small town knew everyone else, and sure enough, a neighbor witnessed the event, and my mom knew about it before I got home.The Internet has nothing on The Mom Connection. It was wireless, it was insidious, and it never failed to deliver.

            One of my favorite television shows ever is “The Wonder Years”. Almost every episode makes me cry. Watching Kevin Arnold navigate the dangerous and confusing waters of adolescence is something that everyone can relate to, I think. The show gets right to the heart of how it really feels to be young-how magical, how joyous, and how terrible it is. The peer and family relationships are perfectly captured. In particular the relationship between Kevin and his dad touches my heart. My dad was like Kevin’s in many ways, although he was much more affectionate and spent more time with us than Jack Arnold does with his family in the show. Still, when Kevin gets to spend the day at his father’s office and learns that Dad once had dreams that were never realized, it makes me weep. My dad had those dreams, too. I wonder how many other dads in my neighborhood, toiling away daily at jobs they rather despised in order to support the families they loved, wistfully recalled a time when they wanted to be “the captain of a ship”.  Whenever I read the poem “Those Winter Sundays”, I am struck by the last line: “What did I know, what did I know, of love’s austere and lonely offices?”  Those suburban dads, the ones we saw at neighborhood barbecues and sitting in church on Sundays with their families-did anyone really know them, even their own children?

            Our moms were an interesting group of Southern ladies. My mother once dragged me down the street by my pigtails, denouncing me as a “hooligan” because I had gotten into a fight with two other girls right in someone’s front yard. I don’t mean a verbal altercation; I mean an actual fistfight. I don’t recall what it was about, and I think we were probably pulling hair and scratching each other more than using our fists, but Mom was mortified. I suppose it would be considered “abuse” nowadays, this dragging of a child by her pigtails, but I honestly didn’t think anything about it and neither did anyone else. My mother was a ninja with a spatula. So was everyone else’s mother. Our moms were just our moms, and they loved us, and they were just as likely to hug and kiss us as they were to come after us with household items. I was never afraid of my parents beyond that basic healthy respect that kids should have for their parents. Furthermore, our teachers at the little elementary school we attended didn’t think twice about employing corporal punishment, and our parents supported them wholeheartedly. We loved our teachers, too. Our school and our churches were extensions of our homes. We were all in this together. Things are different now.

            I know things are different now because on a beautiful spring day, I see so few kids out on their bicycles. In the gang of kids I played with, the two constants were bicycles and dogs. You knew everyone by his bicycle and his dog. The dogs roamed freely and nobody got upset about it. The kids roamed freely and no one worried about getting kidnapped. The rules were simple on a summer day: check in occasionally and be home before dark. There were also rules of deportment regarding other people’s homes. Obey their house rules, respect their property, don’t fight, and, above all, don’t complain about the food. My brother once told my mom that she had no idea how many tuna sandwiches he choked down at the houses of his friends, because you always just smile and say thank you. To this day I am polite about food, hearing my mother’s voice in my head.

            Kevin Arnold and his friends and his siblings are confused about many things, but Kevin does know that “no matter where you go in the world, your father will always leave the light on for you.” Such a lovely truth. My father always left a light on for me. More often, he was waiting up. Sometimes I walked in the door and silently handed him my car keys, having broken curfew. I wasn’t always honest about where I had been, and he knew it. But no matter where I had been, I could always go home. I hope that my kids understand this. I believe they do. We may get angry, we may be disappointed, but we will always forgive them and welcome them back. This is a picture of our Heavenly Father. He always welcomes His children home, no matter what they have done. Kevin Arnold is fearful of the future, sometimes even uncertain about the present, but he is confident of his parents’ love for him, for his siblings, and for one another. As a teacher I see so many kids who do not have what I had, and it breaks my heart. Growing up, I had a safe haven. Laughter and love abounded there, even in the bad times. I wish everyone could have such a family, so fine a life as I had growing up. Imperfect and at times chaotic, still it was strong and it gave me the foundation I needed. It helped shape who I am.

            Thinking about my own wonder years, I see how many people influenced my life. Family, friends, teachers, pastors, neighbors-they are all a part of me. I will never forget those people and places. I will never forget the smell of the station wagon, the fireplace in winter, the way it feels to coast downhill on an old bicycle, the sweet sound of a children’s choir on Palm Sunday morning. I will never forget the gentle smile of my Sunday school teacher, Kay Banker, welcoming me to class, or the devilish grin of my friend Kevin DeRemer as we proceeded to mutilate the worm we were supposed to dissect in biology lab. This beautiful mosaic of memory inspires me and keeps me going as I live this part of my story with my own husband and children.

            “In my life, I’ve loved them all.”

Saturday, April 7, 2012

That Saturday

Why should I gain from His reward? I cannot give an answer

But this I know with all my heart: His wounds have paid my ransom.”

                Tomorrow we will celebrate the resurrection of Jesus. On Thursday and Friday, His last supper with His disciples and His Passion were remembered.  But there is a day in between that I think about, too. I think a lot about that Saturday. This Saturday morning, my family is still sleeping and the house is so quiet. I think about the silence that must have prevailed on that Saturday as His disciples and His mother and all of those who loved Him wept and mourned. They knew what He had promised…but they saw Him die. They watched as He suffered on that cross. They heard Him cry out to the Father who had purposely turned His back.  They saw the love in His eyes as he said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

                I wonder what it must have been like to be there. In particular I wonder how His mother, Mary, must have felt. She had known from the day of His conception that this was the plan. As a young girl of fourteen or fifteen, she was chosen to bear and to raise the very Son of God. For thirty-three years she must have lived with the shadow of that Cross always before her. I cannot say with any real conviction that I could willingly give up my son. The very thought of losing him makes me feel a profound sense of horror and grief.  But Mary did it. “Behold the handmaiden of the Lord,” she said when she was told by the angel that she was to be His mother. What an enormous act of faith and obedience it was to utter those words and mean them.

                When the day came, that dreadful, unbelievable day…where were her other children? Scripture strongly indicates that Jesus had siblings. Had they abandoned Him long ago? Why was the responsibility of caring for Mary given by Jesus to John, the youngest of the disciples?  Most Bible scholars believe that Joseph was considerably older than Mary and probably died early on, leaving her a very young widow. Did the brothers of Jesus, as they grew up, desert Him and their mother one by one, choosing to follow the world’s belief that He was a fraud and a liar? One can only speculate. There is even a possibility that at least one of the disciples was a half-brother of Jesus. Whatever the case, in the end, He was alone. Those closest to Him could only watch in agony as His bones popped out of joint, bringing more unbearable pain to a body that was already battered beyond recognition. But it was the separation from God that caused the greatest suffering…and the betrayal.

                Yes, the betrayal. We know that Judas hung himself, unable to deal with what he had done.  For thirty pieces of silver, he betrayed his Lord, the star-breather who washed his filthy feet.  And we hate Judas, hate him more than the Brutus who drank wine with Julius Caesar just before he and the other senators assassinated him, more than John Wilkes Booth or Lee Harvey Oswald who brought about two of the darkest days our country has ever seen. We despise him more than any serial killer or mass murderer in the history of the world…because he is us. We say, “Not I, Lord, not I”, but every day we fail Him. Every time we ignore the homeless man by the side of the road or gossip about our neighbor, we drive the nails into His hands again. Like the crowd who shouted, “Hosanna” on Palm Sunday, our very same lips utter words that make Him weep.  Judas is simply a picture of who we really are at heart. But Jesus, Who loves us utterly, does not see that when He looks upon us. He sees only the beauty of who we can be in Him.

                “It was my sin that held Him there.” That is actually not completely true. It was His LOVE that held him there.  On that Saturday, as His friends and mother waited and prayed that the Deeper Magic From Before the Dawn of Time was really true, they must have contemplated the many times they had let Him down.  I know that after the death of my father I thought of those things. I thought of the times I had been disrespectful or rude, the times I could have sat down and spent just a few minutes with him and was too busy. With the passing years much of that guilt has disappeared and I remember the good things that we shared. Those wonderful times that Jesus spent with His disciples-eating, talking, laughing-all of those must have raced through their minds as well. Mary must have remembered Him as a child. Perhaps she recalled that day that He went missing and she and Joseph were so scared…until they found Him about His Father’s business . Now He was lying there in a tomb and she had been a helpless witness to His torture and death. But this was part of His Father’s business, too. Even though she had known that all along, as a mother nothing could have fully prepared her for it.

                On that Saturday, the sorrow that preceded the glory of that Sunday must have been too deep for words.  The Bible tells us that, while weeping may last for a night, joy comes in the morning. Those of us who have loved ones on the other side of eternity live our lives with hope, anticipating the day when we will once again see those familiar faces.(By the way, I disagree with those who say we won’t recognize our family and friends. I believe I will, having become the self beyond the self I now see.)  Our night and our Saturday here are, perhaps, a little longer than we would want, but we need not live under Saturday’s shadow. No, we can live above that, in Sunday’s light. The stone has been rolled away, forever. The enemy has been defeated. “O death, where is thy victory? O, death, where is thy sting?”

                The sting of sin and death have been swallowed up in victory.  We need to live as though we KNOW it is true, not just as though we hope it MIGHT be true. I am a broken, wretched sinner, but His wounds have indeed paid my ransom.  If you feel that your life is an endless Saturday, if you are thirsty for the living, refreshing water of Sunday, then come. He is waiting with his nail-scarred hands outstretched to receive you, whoever you are and wherever you might have been. Be blessed. He is risen indeed.  

“On the hillside you will be delivered, at the foot of the Cross justified, and your spirit restored by the river that pours from our blessed Savior’s side.”