A friend of VOMC, Elizabeth Kendal, wrote the following devotional for the Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin. As she noted on her blog, "Like deep darkness, persecution, injustice and tribulation can shake a believer's faith. It can also shake the faith of faithful prayer warriors, especially if the darkness lingers. But Easter provides us all with the most perfect example of the fact that our world includes a spiritual dimension that we are not always privy to. Things are not always as they seem -- and God can be trusted. In this, Jesus Christ has shown us the way."
May this reading be a blessing as we prepare our hearts to celebrate Easter and the encouragement and hope we have in Jesus Christ.
EASTER 2010: PERSPECTIVE IS EVERYTHING
By Elizabeth Kendal
The darkness and coldness of the night are deepest just before dawn. How dark and cold Good Friday must have seemed to Jesus' followers, to those who had put their hope in him. And in the afternoon, when actual darkness shrouded the land, how terrifying that darkness must have been. Yet all was not as it seemed -- and this is one of the profound lessons to take away from the suffering and terror of Good Friday.
Perspective is everything. Jesus' followers, family and friends saw Christ's crucifixion as an appalling injustice. Their loved one, their hope, was hanging on a cross, crucified for a crime -- blasphemy -- he did not commit, purely to appease hatred. The Jews who earlier had shouted 'Crucify him! Crucify him!' saw Christ's crucifixion as thoroughly deserved. The Romans saw Christ's crucifixion as the end of a trouble-maker. Meanwhile, God in heaven saw a Lamb being slain in the name of everlasting love. He saw the penalty of sin being paid to enable reconciliation between God and man. He saw people from every tribe, language, people and nation (Revelation 5:9) being redeemed, brought out from under that shroud of death that covers all peoples (Isaiah 25:7) and given access to God's Most Holy Place (Hebrews 10:19). Dear struggling prayer warrior, dear persecuted believer -- trust in God, things are not always as they appear and the dawn is just around the corner.
Trusting that our sovereign, provident and faithful God is always at work, we can follow Christ by adopting his attitude. 'Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus', who humbled himself, taking the nature of a servant, and was obedient even to the point of death -- 'even death on a cross' (Philippians 2:5-8 NIV).
Trusting that our sovereign, provident and faithful God is always at work, we can follow Christ by modelling his faith. It was only after Christ Jesus endured the cross in humility and faith, that 'God exalted him to the highest place' (Philippians 2:9-11 NIV). Jesus did not doubt that God would be faithful. He did not fear being rejected by the Father and left in hell. He entered the darkness with absolute faith that God the Father, who is faithful by nature, would be true to his promise, and that he would emerge victorious at the dawn of the third day.
Trusting that our sovereign, provident and faithful God is always at work, we can follow Christ through the veil. Christ went through the veil and into the Most Holy Place for us. Our souls are now anchored there through our union with him (Hebrews 6:19,20). While one day we will live there with him and see him face to face, even now we enter through the veil by faith whenever we make intercessions for ourselves and for others. How greatly this great mystery is misunderstood! How greatly this great privilege is neglected! Dear believers -- enter through the veil into the courts of the Lord and do business with God in the confidence that Christ opened the way for you.
Why is there so much pride and arrogance? Why is faith so shaky? Why is there so little prayer? May Easter be an encouragement: things are not always as they appear and the dawn is just around the corner. Jesus Christ has shown us the way. May we follow HIM.