Mourning I

“And His disciples came and took the body and buried it, and they went and told Jesus.  Now when Jesus heard this, He withdrew from there in a boat to a desolate place by Himself.  But when the crowds heard it, they followed Him on foot from the towns.  When He went ashore He saw a great crowd, and He had compassion on them and healed their sick.”

(Matthew 14: 12-15 ESV)

Mourning….defined in its simplest form is grief over someone’s death.  Grief which  can be so unimaginable, so unbearable, so painful, so difficult to explain with mere words, yet we all have experienced its strangling grip hold of deepened sorrow in a world where physical death is certain, and of its most brutal pain, and of the emotional burdens which follow, the loss of someone we loved so very dearly….

mourning pic 1

“Now when Jesus heard this, He withdrew from there in a boat to a desolate place by Himself…”

Right before Jesus performed one of His many and wondrous miracles….the feeding of the five thousand….He was given the devastating news of His cousin’s death…..the one who paved the way for His ministry.  Many biblical scholars have identified Christ’s action of withdrawal in a boat to a desolate place as avoiding the threat of Herod and the pressing of the crowds for Jesus’ time had not yet come, yet there may be something even more wondrous, more miraculous, and even more incredible within this passage…..

Jesus was a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief (Isa. 53:3) Even in His Sovereignty, hearing the devastating news of John the Baptist’s death must have been a sorrowful moment for Christ, as He searched for seclusion….for just a simple moment of privacy…. a quick pause to perhaps grieve the loss of a loved one.  But this is not the most wondrous, miraculous, and incredible part of this passage…. What is merely incredible, most incomprehensible is despite Jesus being identified as a Man of sorrows in which He was very well acquainted with grief….He was still able to have compassion on the crowds which followed Him on foot and heal the sick who followed Him there…

Jesus……despised and rejected by men (Isa. 53:3)….yet He healed them…..by touching the lepers……giving sight to the blind….. And healing the deaf and mute…..

Seeking the seclusion of a private moment… yet placing the needs of a broken and fallen humanity before His own…..

Overwhelmed with compassion for others despite His own present and current grief….

Despite His own-impending sorrows……

My Progressive Transformation

“And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”

(Philippians 1:6 ESV)

Jen running

Leaving a lasting spiritual legacy should be the hope and desire of all who come to know Him.  Helping others see Him through you is the greatest gift you may ever give to someone wandering in the darkness, and unable to see His light of life.  I hope to leave a spiritual legacy where those who know me completely understand I have finally… “I HAVE FINALLY” (shouting here) come to serve a God who unconditionally loves His children (not flee from them) despite their continual shortcomings, and our God completely understands the weaknesses and frailty of a fallen humanity in which we now live. I want people to know that Christianity does NOT begin with what we do for Him, but ONLY begins with what He has done for us! 

Our ultimate act of worship is in living a holy life.  Scripture says, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12: 2 ESV)  It is not a “molding” brought about by a high-walled childhood legalistic church, but an actual transformation which occurs from the inside out… not from outside in.  A transformation that Christ is actively involved in, and through this process of sanctification, we become more Christ-like.    It is not in learning “sin management” techniques that ultimately leads us down a path of failure, but in the continual and daily act of loving Christ so much, you only want to please Him by living a holy life.  It is not in frightening non-believers and skeptics into believing in Hell, but helping them understand and believe in the love of Christ, and of His loving act of complete and willing sacrifice… the bloody and torturous horror of Calvary, and the glorious resurrection of a now living King!   It is in lowering the most intimidating and legalistic church walls, and truly helping each other as followers of Christ through this life-long battle of progressive transformation.  

long road

It is Christ and the love He exhibited to us while He walked among us.  It is written in Scripture and also known by this once wandering prodigal who knows and has truly experienced the radiating love of Christ, and who also knows without doubt that nothing can separate us from Christ! For Scripture states, “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8: 38-39 ESV)  How glorious is our God!  These progressive transformation stories of God’s grace in your life and of your family should be spoken of and preserved, not hidden and wrapped in anguish and disgust! 

As I continue my progression toward Christ-likeness, I continually struggle with poor habits and bad attitudes.  I have a negative (and slowly healing) attitude toward His church.  I have a negative attitude for those who do not love and embrace non-believers. I have a negative attitude toward self-righteousness.  I struggle with my spiritual disciplines as I see myself many times less than others I perceive as more “godly”, but I know I so love Jesus!  I try to keep my eyes focused only on Him but it has become so difficult!  I sometimes feel we all have lost our perception of true spirituality.  The religious leaders of Christ’s day had a kind of differentness that pushed people away.  Jesus had a kind of differentness that drew people to him.  True spirituality is that way.  Do I draw people in like Christ did?  Do I love people who are not exactly like me? Do I love people who do not know Him?  Do I pray enough?  I know I have periods of drought!  Do I read God’s Word enough?  I know and confess how I hate to read!  I struggle with disappointment and I ask for His help.  I have recently become so disappointed that I seem to still love God so little and sin so much.

“Why are you cast down O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me?  Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.”

(Psalm 42: 11 ESV)