Expecting the Unexpected

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One of my favorite things about kids is their curiosity.  They are unassuming, full of questions and wonder. They are always hunting, searching for answers—freer than we are to admit that they don’t know something. They love surprises and that little thrill that comes from the appearance of the unexpected.

Adults aren’t really like that. We like to know what to expect, what’s going to happen next. Our modus operandi to act like we have all the answers, like we have everything figured out already. We like to plan, to be in control of every aspect of our lives.

But that’s not really the way God works, is it? From the very beginning, the life of Jesus was all about the unexpected. We expect that the long-awaited Messiah, the Savior of the entire world, would arrive in some grand fashion with flashes of lightning and clashing cymbals, but that’s not what happened.  Instead, Jesus came quietly, gently, and without threat or fanfare.  In fact, only a few lowly shepherds and animals living in a stable had any idea that the world would never be the same.

We expect that the very Son of God would be awarded great power and prestige, but again that’s not what happened. Jesus taught us that the meek would inherit the earth and the last would be first.  He taught us that it is better to serve than to be served, and he lived that truth in his leadership throughout his life. And then finally he died. Jesus didn’t use his incredible power to free himself from the cruelty of crucifixion, but he died a painful and humiliating death on the cross. For us. Because he loved us so much.

And now we arrive at Easter. The women went to the tomb that first Easter morning with the no doubt that they would find exactly what they expected.  A tomb. A body. Sadness. Despair. But then the most unexpected thing happened—the tomb was empty.

The women, understandably, were terrified. But an angel appeared to them and asked what must have seemed like the strangest question: “Why do you look for the living among the dead?” The angel was tasked with delivering the most unexpected surprise in history—Jesus could not be found in a cold, dark tomb. He was not there anymore. He is risen.

The story of Easter has so much to teach us, but I think one of its greatest truths is that God has the power to do so much more than we expect or imagine. You think God can’t bring healing to the brokenness in your life? Think again. You think no beauty can come from this hurt? It’s not true. The story of Easter—the story of God—is about light from darkness, hope from despair, life from death. The resurrection is God’s promise that what is lost and broken can be redeemed, that whatever pain you’re experiencing right now doesn’t get the last word in your story.

This Easter, I’m thankful that God does so much more than I expect or even believe is possible. And he that he loves me so much more than I know.

Friday Links

Friday Links are a round-up of my favorite posts/videos/projects/photos from around the web.

Happy Weekend, friends! I am so thankful for this weekend—we got to spend time with people we love and celebrate Easter with our church family. Praying that you experience the resurrection this weekend, the story of God and the life that it brings. Happy Easter! XO

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For your weekend reading pleasure….

  • This post from Sarah Bessey on church and redemption and why we keep going. Her writing speaks to my soul.
  • These seven questions to ask yourself at the end of the day.
  • This post from Momastary on the most honest, beautiful, important question.
  • This series from Rachel Held Evans on the women of Holy Week (click through to read all the entries).  The quote she includes from Dorothy Sayers is one of my favorites: Perhaps it is no wonder that the women were first at the Cradle and last at the Cross. They had never known a man like this Man—there never has been such another. A prophet and teacher who never nagged at them, never flattered or coaxed or patronized; who never made arch jokes about them, never treated them either as ‘The women, God help us!’ or ‘The ladies, God bless them!’; who rebuked without querulousness and praised without condescension; who took their questions and arguments seriously; who never mapped out their sphere for them, never urged them to be feminine or jeered at them for being female; who had no axe to grind and no uneasy male dignity to defend; who took them as he found them and was completely unselfconscious.

Finished

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I’m sitting in my office working on a devotion to share with the families in my church this Holy Week. I’ve been reading through a devotional book for children, Thoughts to Make Your Heart Sing, from Zonderkidz. I love this particular entry:

Finished!

Just before he died, Jesus shouted from the cross, “It is finished!”

What was finished?

Jesus was saying:

Everything you need to come back home to God,

Everything you need to be free and happy in God,

Everything you need to live forever, I’ve done it all!

It wasn’t a cry of defeat. It was a shout of victory.  The great work of rescuing was finished!

There is now nothing you can do to make God love you more—and nothing you can do to make him love you less.

It is finished!

“Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!” 2 Corinthians 9:15

This week I join with Christians all over the world in observing the traditions of Holy Week. Tomorrow I will gather with my church family to share the Lord’s Supper and remember the last meal Jesus shared with his disciples. I will think about he taught them, even then, to love one another—not with words, but by example.

On Friday, I will pause to consider the magnitude of what happened on the cross, the sheer weight of what Jesus did for me. I will reflect on his death—the pain and cruelty he endured—not out of guilt, but with sincere gratitude for the price he paid.

And on Sunday, I will gather back here. Children will be dressed in hats and pretty pastel dresses. And we will celebrate. We will celebrate that the women found the stone rolled away and the tomb empty.  We will celebrate victory over death and redemption from pain. We will celebrate hope and connection and grace. We will celebrate that what was once lost and broken can be made new. We will celebrate the story of God.

This Holy Week, let’s remember these words that Jesus spoke from the cross: It is finished.

And it was. Everything changed in that moment. When I send this devotion to my families, I’ll challenge them to take some time this week to reflect on what God has done, and I think our challenge is the same. Don’t let this week pass you by—the darkness of Good Friday nor the dancing and singing that comes with Easter morning. Everything changed. Let’s stop and notice.