Today’s Reading: John 13:1(NIV)
1 It was just before the Passover Feast. Jesus knew that the time had come for Him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved His own who were in the world, He now showed them the full extent of His love.
I had a dream last night. I was watching an old black and white rerun on television. The story was about the life and death of someone I thought I knew. There were no masterful touch ups, no obvious second takes in this show. The truth of his reclusive life was revealed without sweet sugar-coating. This was a documentary film, revealing a life of one whose sad existence went seemingly unnoticed by the world around him. It told the story of who he was, what he had become, and how he might be remembered, if anyone cared to remember him at all.
I entered the room alone, lined with empty chairs. There were no flowers along the walls near the casket. There was no one to speak words to, no bereaved ones to comfort. The deafening silence was so shrill that it hurt my ears to hear. No one seemed to care he was gone.
My mind began to wander as I thought about what it might be like to die, having no one there to miss me. What if the poor choices I made in life far surpassed any tangible memory of the goodness God planted inside my heart? If the demons that destroyed my earthly flesh continued to hold me in solitary confinement for all eternity, what could I possibly have to look forward to in death? Would my soul rest in peace? Would my soul rest at all?
Suddenly, the scene changed. A pastor, dressed in a black tweed suit, stood at the head of the dead man’s casket. His feet planted on a soggy, rain-drenched tarp, he spoke words of hope into the thick, stormy air. The wind was whipping wildly around the white funeral tent, where a few blank faces stared out into the pouring rain. He said. “We are here today to grieve the things that could have been. We write our own funeral sermons by the life we choose to live. God Almighty is crying today for this precious child, and the heavens have opened up with healing rain.” In that breathless moment, when I thought my own heart would break with grief for a man who I did not know, I watched in astonishment as the light of life moved through the garden gate. Coming toward the casket, His nail-scarred hands were reaching out in love, extending eternal friendship to the one the world had forgotten to love. I heard my Jesus say, “Rise up, dear one. Today, you will walk with me in paradise.”
He lived his earthly life in black and white. In the fleeting moments preceding his very last breath, this man made a deathbed confession that only God would hear and understand. How could a loving Father send His only Son to bear the shame of a sinful world on a cruel cross? The answer is clear. Jesus willingly came for the sick, the road weary and the lost. His love reaches beyond human understanding or life experience. Jesus died for the friendless. He lives so we can live again with Him.
At the end of our earthly journey, there is a new beginning. As the memory of this earthly life was washed away, I saw Him take hold of the Savior’s hand. They walked together through the garden, disappearing in the rain. Jesus Christ came to show the full extent of His love, not just for some, but for all who will cry out to Him in faith.
I woke up this morning with hope in my heart.
Grace and peace,
Faith UMC -
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