How long is your Saturday?

I’m not asking how much you can accomplish on your first day of the weekend. How many chores or ball games. How much work or play you can squeeze into your day off.  This Saturday is the dark space between Good Friday and Easter Sunday. Between death and new life. Between reality as you knew it but can never experience again, and life as it will be.

Saturday is the place of death, of tears and loss and emptiness. Where hope does not glimmer around the edges. Nothing is like you thought it would be. Everything has come to a standstill.

How do you live through that long Saturday?

How do you climb through to glistening morning dew, faces you don’t recognize, but quicken your heart? A life you never planned to live?

We don’t get there by pretending it’s not dark.

That life before Friday didn’t matter all that much.

That it doesn’t hurt now.

Hollering in the graveyard may make small boys feel brave, but it can’t wake the dead.

And it won’t wake us.

We must wait. Live in the Saturday. Even if that living is slow motion, muted, arduous.

caterpillar under leaf
caterpillar under leaf

Until the sun rises.

I know some who have taken up residence in their Saturday. That’s no place to dwell.  If that is you, please, take my hand and walk with me toward the sunrise.

Leave your chrysalis and stretch out your wings.

butterfly on flower
butterfly on flower

Wait for the deeper reality, flowing through and behind.

 

butterfly
butterfly
Monarch Butterfly
Monarch Butterfly
butterfly in flight
butterfly in flight

When the time is right, we will fly.

 

“I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for. When you call on me, when you come and pray to me, I’ll listen. When you come looking for me, you’ll find me. Yes, when you get serious about finding me and want it more than anything else, I’ll make sure you won’t be disappointed.” God’s Decree.“I’ll turn things around for you. I’ll bring you back from all the countries into which I drove you”—God’s Decree—“bring you home to the place from which I sent you off into exile. You can count on it.” Jeremiah 29:11-14 The Message

 

 

All photos property of Jack H Thompson

Content of this blog is property of Jane Foard Thompson and may only be shared in its entirety, with attribution.

Breathe on me

Immediately following his agonizing crucifixion and supernatural resurrection, the first time Jesus appeared to the whole bunch, he breathed peace and the power of his Spirit over his disciples, and said, “If you forgive someone’s sins, they’re gone for good. If you don’t forgive sins, what are you going to do with them? John 20:22-23, The Message. That last line stopped me cold.

I would have expected words of comfort for the fear and dejection they had experienced in the last few days.

Or answers.

What happened to Jesus? Where was he during those dark hours? What did it feel like? How was his body changed? How’d he get in the room with the doors locked against the world? What would happen to Him now, to all of them?

Instead, Jesus tells them the point of his resurrection power is forgiveness.

Really? Forgiveness?

Then I recall the words he gasped from the cross. “Father, forgive them they know not what they do.”

All right. I know He took our sins to the cross. But giving us the power to forgive sins?

“If you don’t forgive sins, what are you going to do with them?”

Good question. What am I doing with sins against me?

God often speaks to me in mental pictures. As I ponder this, I see an image of me, navigating life with my hands full, cradling scars from childhood when someone hurt me deeply or wounded me by neglect, or from a painful relationship, or rage against the one who abused my children . . . (It goes on, and I’m sure you can write your own list.)

With my hands full, I have nothing to help me make my way through the tough places,

or to receive any gifts,

or to offer assistance to others.

I have to ask, who is being hindered the most now by my holding onto sin against me?

In the light of this, holding on seems preposterous.

So I journey on, forgiving some easily. With the others, deeper wounds from those who should have been the most loving, I have struggled.

Sometimes all I’ve managed is wanting to let go. And for a while, that was enough. The beginning of that road.

But as I felt the call to grow, no amount of sheer effort would make it happen.

I’ve come back around to the breathing part. Jesus breathes his spirit on us to give us the power to really live. The life we were created to live.

It’s pure gift. As I open my hands and heart, and welcome that breath, something in me is transformed.

Lord, breathe on me, giving me the peace the world cannot give, and the power to let go of sins, mine and those of others that have burdened me for way too long. Thank you for new life power.

Is there a struggle on your journey?

Why I believe in Easter

My father was a man of great sin, and our family suffered from his choices. He hurt, abused, and almost destroyed us. As he lay dying, he faced it all.

For days, I had stayed by his side in the ICU. Near the end, he began to tear at the restraints, eyes squinting as into bright light. After a furious but silent fight, he grew quiet, cocking his head as if listening. Then he relaxed and flopped back. In minutes, again his body tensed and legs jerked against the ankle straps. He grimaced at some inner pain. Then his lips moved in silent confession.

I knew God was showing my father his sin. He repented. God forgave him and assured him that He would redeem the years the enemy, using my father, had devoured. The cycle continued for hours until, at dusk, he fell still.

That night he slipped into a coma from which his doctor said he would never awaken. Exhausted after two weeks at his deathbed, I asked why they didn’t just turn off the IV’s and oxygen, why keep him alive when there was no hope. The doctor said the machines weren’t keeping him alive–my father would go when God was ready—and that everyone in the hospital had great respect for the courage that had kept him alive this long.

Respect for my father–the alcoholic–the rage and fury of my childhood?

During the night, in the glow of machines, I realized his cheekbones were just like mine. For the first time, I was proud to have those strong bones, proud to be The Dutchman’s daughter. I rose and leaned over his bed. He opened his eyes as if I had called to him. He reached up and gently stroked my hair.

All my life I had yearned for that tender touch.

“I love you, too,” I whispered.

He smiled and closed his eyes. His hand fell back to the bed.

When morning came, my Mom arrived, fresh after two days of sleep. Completely exhausted, I dragged myself to our room and collapsed into bed. Several hours later, she shook me awake.

He was gone.

I felt cheated. I’d spent days at his bedside, then wasn’t there to say goodbye. God had brought spiritual healing to him during his last days, and I had felt a touch of the love I hungered for all my life, but now, I had nothing.

I grasped at emptiness, and found only pain, fresher than ever.

Several days later, Mom asked me to read a lesson at the funeral.

Choked with tears, I read “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” While I read, I begin to grasp that a God who was powerful enough to bring forgiveness to a man like my father, could bring life and healing to me.

My voice rang out as I ended: “But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” I Corinthians 15:55,57 (NAS).

I felt the touch of the Father’s hand, the all-encompassing love of an eternal “Daddy” who will never hurt me or leave me.

And for the first time in years, I was able to pray.

Healing has been a process. What I experienced at my father’s death was a crack in the door, a chance for me to open the walls I had formed around myself–to choose life.

I have learned to release old hurts and receive love. God has redeemed the years of pain. Deep wounds have carved a crucible of joy that I can pour out for others.

“I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord. Be strong, and let your heart take courage.” Psalm 27:13, 14 (NAS)

Papa God, hold the little child in me who needs your strength and gentleness. Turn me towards the light. Fill me with your love, that I might love, and love, and love again.