Friday, April 10, 2009
Easter is my favorite time of year. Bryan and I differed in almost every way, didn't we? He was a Christmas kinda guy--the whole month of festivities and tradition. I am a Holy Week kinda gal--the entire week of pondering what Christ accomplished for me on the Cross. I love Spring and green grass and renewal and second chances.
I am not sure I am even allowed to do what I am about to do, but I am going to anyway. I know I could just give you the website here and tell you to read it, but if you are like me, you won't make the extra effort. So on this, the day my Savior died, Good Friday, I am printing my favorite blogger's ponderings here. Her words are so good and I could never say it better. If I tried, I would only be plagiarizing hers and I would not capture the essence of her lovely words anyway. It is a bit lengthy but worth persevering to the end.
The reason I am posting this on Bryan's Memorial blog is that if he were alive today, I would have sent this to him. Even though I knew he did not read his emails regularly, I still would have sent this to my brother. Despite it being written by a woman to her women friends--you can make the connection. So today I am sending it to you instead.
Today is only "good" because of what happened on Sunday so long ago.
"It's Good Friday. I tend to have lots of heavy thoughts around this day every year. I do love Christmas so very much but I am far more moved by the season of reflection on the Cross of Christ and the celebration of our only true hope: His glorious resurrection. We are obviously so much surer of the timing of His Passion than we are His birth. We really can say, "Approximately this many years ago, this happened right around this exact time." Anniversaries are a powerful thing.
Yesterday I served at the memorial service of a fellow servant of Christ. She was just a few years older than me and her children, both boys, are the same ages of my girls. Belinda and I don't really have a family history together, though. We have a shared history of faith. Years ago, I suppose somewhere around 1990, I started teaching my first ungraded women's Sunday School class. (skipped a paragraph on purpose--sorry Beth)
But back to Belinda. Early on in our class, this darling, petite blond (bleached, liked yours truly) entered our ranks with a personality that stole the hearts of every person in the class. Or, then again, it was her story that stole our hearts. She became quite a center of attention because she'd battled breast cancer several years before and it had come back with a vengeance. By the time I got to know Belinda, the doctors had told her that cancer had spread to her bones all the way from her skull to her knees. She was covered. Almost hopeless. Only that wild woman absolutely refused to give up. Her boys were still young and she intended to see them to manhood.
I have no idea why things work the way they do. I've seen mothers just as determined to raise their children yet die of cancer in only a few months. These things are only for the fathomless mind of God. We can't figure them out for the life of us. But if I were to offer a little conjecture, with His permission and patience, I'd tell you that maybe He gave Belinda those extra years (somewhat like Hezekiah) so that she could teach a tight-knit group of women how to put their faith where their big mouths were. She sought the Lord for Scriptures then told us what to pray for her and how to pray and that, if we were going to doubt, not to bother. And all of this in the most winsome way. She had the cutest personality ever. Several in our class nicknamed her Bubbles. I never could bring myself to do it. Too cool, maybe. But I tell you what I did call her. I called her a warrior. As I told them yesterday, I have never known a more courageous woman in all my life.
Some years later, I was asked to move to a different Sunday school hour to teach and I left my beloved Dayspring Class to the plans God had for them. Most of those women stayed intact and still study and worship together today. Belinda came to my new class many times but it was so large that it did not lend itself to the closeness we'd all enjoyed before. By this time, we no longer had the same need to pray for Belinda anyway. She was thriving. God had indeed given her what she'd so vehemently asked. There were others who moved to the top of our prayer lists.
Then about six months ago, at a Tuesday night Bible study, I saw Belinda at the altar weeping during praise and worship. (Our worship time is also an open-altar time and it is very, very special.) I went to her with haste and she looked up at me with an expression I'll never forget. "Beth, it's back. And if the Lord doesn't heal me, I'm going to die."I felt it in my gut. I knew this time He was going to take her Home. That somehow her job was done. Though her assignment was undoubtedly much broader than this, God had used her to teach a group of women (of all ages, praise His Name!) how to pray with wild faith. Our lives had been changed forever. We'd seen first hand a little of what God could do.
Yesterday morning I grabbed my Bible, my black purse, and a prayer journal from 1994 that I'd taped a precious blonde woman's picture on and headed to my church. We celebrated Belinda Edgerton's life in a chapel packed full of people from all dimensions of her life. She'd made a mark on everybody from her coworkers at Shell Oil to her neighbors right there on her cul-de-sac. As I reflected on her life and thought about what I wanted to share, God brought the woman out of Luke 8 to my mind who pressed through the crowd to get to Jesus.
She reached through the push-and-shove of public spectacle with the purity and simplicity of desperation. She somehow latched on to the hem of His garment and, let this fall afresh, she was healed. We don't hear any more about that woman. Lord have mercy, she must have told her story a jillion times to anybody who would listen. But somewhere over there in Israel, her body has turned to ashes just like all her friends. It occurred to me that, while we are here on earth in these flesh-and-blood mortal bodies, all we can hope for is a hem of healing. Even if Belinda had been completely healed of her cancer, she would still have gotten sinus infections, stomach viruses, bad knees, and, one day, her sons still would have gone to her funeral. She just might have been a tad older.
These bodies of ours are fashioned for a flash of time on this planet. God has healed all of us of many things but, in His great purposes, we can only grab the hem. Even a miracle of instant restoration from a terminal disease is still just a hem of healing. One day we will trade the hem for the real Him. No more pressing through the crowd wondering if we're going to be among the few that see that kind of miracle. We will see Him. Jesus Christ, the risen King. We won't just touch the edge of His cloak. We will touch the God-man Himself in His spectacular immortal body but, significantly, one still bearing the scars of His visitation here. His wholeness is so utterly complete and infinitely perfect that we, upon the very sight of Him, will be made whole as well.
This, Beloved, is what we live for. Not for just another day here. But for that very day there.
Several months ago, Melissa had insisted upon going with me to have a dye test to follow up a suspicious mammogram. (No rumors please. I do not have breast cancer. Because my mother died with it, however, I never get the luxury of drama-less annual check-ups.) We were sitting in the waiting room and a rack was within arms reach offering all manner of brochure on various cancers. Melissa took one out after another and glanced over them, shaking her head.
She looked up at me with that classic expression of hers and said, "Life is brutal, man."
We both sat silently for just a moment.
Then she said one of the most profound things I've ever heard."He knows it's scary to be us."Yes, He does.
Yes, He does. He does NOT take the fact lightly that we go through medical tests to see if we have a raging cancer. He does NOT take lightly that some of you are secretly fearing that the monster has come back. He does NOT take lightly that some of you are going through the cancer treatments of your own children. I had to pause and put my hand over my mouth on that one.
Holding back the tears. Son of David, have mercy on us! You know it's scary to be us! It's almost too much here, Lord. It's almost too much.
And the thunder crashes in the heavens and the earth grows dark in the middle of the afternoon and a man, beaten to a bloody pulp, cries from a cross between two thieves, "It is finished!"And death is overcome.
One day, Sweet Darling. ONE DAY. We will trade that hem for the real Him and there will be no more sickness.
No more death.
No more sadness.
We will all be healed.
Posted by Reilly Fitzpatrick at 8:36 AM