Here it is, February 14th, 2018. It’s Valentine’s Day–a day for chocolate, kisses, smiles, and cheer. For dumb little cards and sappy big cards, for too much sugar, friends and family near. (Sorry about the rhyme; I couldn’t help myself.) This is a day for life and health and love . . . right?
Mourning has Broken
This morning began with a greeting from my love, who is out of town for the week. Next came the news that a dear friend from church entered heaven’s gates after years of battling stage 4 cancer. (Don’t even say he lost his battle. Don’t even. I hate that phrase.) Elsewhere in our proximity, there are people too numerous to mention succumbing to this season’s influenza outbreak, one ending up passed out on the cold tile of his kitchen floor. In other news, our school’s sewer might be backing up into the water, rendering half of the facility unusable.
Alice, who used to be just a four-year-old girl, but is now a girl her father fears will be remembered mostly as a four-year-old victim of tragedy will have an MRI today to see whether her brain is filled with tumor or hope or, perhaps, both. Thirty-three years ago today my twenty-nine-year-old father went into the hospital with a benign brain tumor and left a month later in a casket.
This is a day for life and love and health.
And pain and suffering and death.
And flu and sewage and fainting spells.
Happy Hearts Day, 2018.
Need I Go On?
If this was all there is, this torturous existence where sewage and sweetness mix with unsettling regularity, well, heavens, reader, why go on?
But remember that one time, the apostle Paul asks, remember when you were “Gentiles in the flesh, called ‘the uncircumcision’ by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands—remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.”? (Ephesians 2:11-12)
Remember when you had no hope? Remember when all the water of your spiritual world was tainted with sewage? Remember when your heart was so broken by the law and the failure and the sin and the sovereign circumstances of your life that you felt that you couldn’t go on?
Remember how you were so far from Christ that the very mention of his name and your heart made you bristle like that time when your office-mate got 2 dozen long-stemmed roses from her adoring husband the day after you broke up with your second boyfriend of the year?
That virulent mixture of repulsion and yearning, of the failure of this world’s remedies to cure cancer or heartbreak or water lines–Do you remember, believer, what happened when you had no hope?
Here’s a refresher:
But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit. Ephesians 2:13-22
You were far off. He brought you near by His blood.
He went to war with the wall of the law so that He might be your peace.
He preached peace to you when you were far, far off. He can–He will–preach peace to you today when you are near.
You are far off. He shed His blood that you might be drawn near.
Though you are now His enemy, He died that you might enter into His peace.
He is preaching to you now. Are your ears open to hear?
No Strangers on Valentine’s Day
We are no longer strangers, you and I. We have been brought into the fellowship of Christ’s suffering, and if we are obedient, we have placed ourselves into the fellowship of suffering of a community of believers–into His flesh and blood. On this day of hearts, as we see sin’s warpath as it marches over physical bodies, flawed mechanics, over lonely hearts and breakups, let us also see that He has come to reconcile the sewage with the sweet.
We are joined together, and together we will experience sweetness and sadness, birth and loss, healings on earth and healings in heaven. This world is not always as we would like it to be, but this Valentine’s Day, remember that you are seeing dimly, as through a thick old wavy window (1 Cor. 13:12). Enjoy the beauty of the light that comes through, but do not be afraid over what looks distorted, twisted, and dark. The God of Heaven stretches his loving hands on both sides of the glass. One day, we will see clearly. In the meantime, trust in Him who does all things well.
Kirkwold family, we love you. We rejoice with you and we weep with you.
Reed family, we love you. We rejoice with you and we weep with you.
Grace and Peace,