Apr. 7, 2021 - He is Risen!
"At that time Michael, the great prince who protects your people, will arise. There will be a time of distress such as has not happened from the beginning of nations until then. But at that time your people -- everyone whose name is found written in the book -- will be delivered. Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt."
What a wonderful Sunday! The joy of celebrating the resurrection of Jesus. The joy of celebrating together - in person. The joy of singing. An emotional weekend. And even so much the more for Deb and me as we were finally able to function post-Covid. Resurrection took on a whole other meaning for me. It felt like I was back from the dead (exaggerating of course but not in the moment).
Before writing this I looked...the last time I published was on March 10th...almost a month ago. Whew! I envy those who came down with Covid and were asymptomatic or who had a very slight case, e.g. achy, tired, a little feverish, for a few days. I was not so fortunate. But I also am thankful that I didn't wind up in the hospital as some of my dear friends did (thankfully not having to be on a ventilator but none-the-less very ill).
It hit my lungs pretty hard. Truth be told I should have went to the ER. I probably had pneumonia but the stubborn farm boy in me was either going to get better or die. Either one was welcomed the first two weeks.
I have a new appreciation for anyone that struggles with a long term illness or simply the daily aches and pains of aging. I was a prisoner of my house and bed for two weeks. I woke up knowing that I had to get up and move but spent the rest of the day hoping it would go quickly so I could go back to bed. Praying that tomorrow would be different. It wasn't. Sometimes it was worse. And then the on and off days of feeling better and then feeling terrible. Sickness sometimes reveals its sadistic side of torment. It felt like it just wasn't letting go of me.
Thank God for his grace and mercy. In the grand scheme of things it was about three weeks of being set aside. Hopefully, learning some divine lessons in the process. Hopefully.
I was reminded of another passage in the Book of Daniel as well. It was the story of the three brave men who defied the edict of the king to bow down and worship him by threat of being thrown into a blazing furnace. They refused. "If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. But...even if he does not...we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up."
I know this was a sickness and not a type of persecution because of forced false worship but there was a lesson in this for me. I know that God was able to heal me but...if He didn't, He was still God, still sovereign over my life, still loving and gracious and merciful, still good. How can I say this? Because Jesus is my resurrected Savior and with Him I have a sure and certain promise that when I die I will be with Him in heaven. "Where O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?" Jesus took it. And one day He will come down from heaven with a trumpet blast and a shout and my plagued body will rise from the dead and be transformed into His likeness. And I will be glorified in His sight for all eternity.
It not only reminded me of my eternity and God's sovereignty, but of my utter dependence upon God. Hebrews 1:3 reminded me, "The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word."
Every breath I take, every second given, every moment enjoyed or endured happens because Jesus is sustaining it. And not only this insignificant man but the whole world, the whole created universe.
What about my witness through this?
Jesus told a story of a rich man and a beggar (Luke 16). They both died. The rich man who cared for no one but himself found himself in a tortuous place for the unrighteous wicked. The beggar found peace in the bosom of Abraham, a place of rest and peace.
"I beg you Father Abraham," the rich man said, "send Lazarus to my father's house. for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment."
Abraham replied, "They have Moses and the Prophets, let them listen to them. "
"No, Father Abraham, but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent."
Abraham said, "If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead..."
...or comes back from Covid.
Jesus saves. Jesus sustains. Jesus is sovereign. I am a witness.
He is risen. He is risen, indeed! And so have I (metaphorically)...at least until I have to take a nap at 3.