Saturday, March 21, 2009

Washed in the Water: Take Heart part two - Lent 25

"In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." - Jesus. (John 16:33)

My wife, Rebekah, tells of a woman who came to see her; she needed to talk about a deep grief in her family. The root of the anguish was her adult son, who often disappeared, unheard from, for several days and even weeks on end. His slides into oblivion were frequent - but he often bounced back and returned home for a while. There was substance abuse as well, in addition to the constant battle with his toxic anti-social behavior. Always it seemed there were more holes to dig out of, more heartache, ever growing grief.
  • "I promise I will pray for your son," Rebekah told her. "And I'm praying for you too, because I know that you must be in real despair."
  • "Thank you," the woman replied graciously. "It's very difficult, and we certainly do need the prayers. But I'm not in despair, you know..." and she lowered her voice, almost conspiratorially, "... You see he's baptized, and I know that God's promises are vested deep inside him. That gives me so much hope."
I have overcome the world....

Sometimes, early in the morning, I pray for the people who live inside the homes I walk by during my three-mile trek with Scout Labradoodle. I cover the occupants with prayer, giving the potentiality of their coming day to my Lord. It may be that a child had to step over the prone body of a drunken parent that morning on the way to the school bus; it's possible that there is going to be tension over a breakfast table, or tears over a family member struggling like the women with the fractious son; there may be unemployment, financial hardship, disease, or tragedy.

Despair, you see, has its fair swing at all of us, both people I know and those I may never meet. But I believe on some level there's bonafide spiritual warfare going on, and I demand equal time and attention from the One who brings peace and meaning. Take heart! I have overcome the world.

Lent is a good time to take a close look at our spiritual journey, The Life Examined, and to consider what exactly was at stake (is at stake) when Jesus finally got up from the table and went to the Garden and eventually the Cross. The victory has already been won! Take heart! Each individual battle is played against the backdrop of the final curtain, the foregone conclusion. "Oh death, where is your victory? oh death, where is your sting?"
  • "I am persuaded," Paul write in his letter to the Romans. "That neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."
PRAYER: Dear God, thank you for your strength, your faithfulness, and your assurance. Amen

No comments: