Monday, April 20, 2009

The next forty days

Today’s Reading: Acts 1:3 (NIV)

3 After [Jesus] suffering, He showed Himself to these men and gave many convincing proofs that He was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the Kingdom of God.

Good morning!

A lot can happen in forty days. Our five-year old granddaughter Emily participated in her very first Gymnastics program this past weekend. She began classes just a few months ago, and within a matter of two months, moved up from the beginning class into the intermediate program. Even I was surprised at the new skill sets she acquired in the last six weeks. Emily has always been quite the tumble bee, preferring to hang upside down while watching television or playing on the swing set in their back yard. She has a great sense of balance and a strong upper body, which is why I’m sure she did well on the uneven parallel bars and was able to complete her balance beam routine with only a minor wobble. My favorite moment was watching Emily run as fast as she could toward the pommel horse. She jumped high and stuck her landing, throwing her arms up in the air while waving to the cheering crowd. It was an amazing thing to see. Baby brother Andrew had passed out in my arms, completely oblivious to the activities happening around him. Older brother Joshua sat by my side and cheered his little sister on. At the end of the program, Emily got to carry the team banner, leading her group to the awards ceremony. The smiles on the faces of her team mates pretty much told the rest of the story. This is the time to celebrate!

Parents know that for every success, there will be just as many failures. Our Emily will wear the bumps and bruises of her ongoing gymnastics training, as she continues to learn. We can anticipate future sprained ankles, broken bones, and many other physical injuries that she will fight to recover from. Sometimes, the worst sporting injuries scar our emotions, if we fail to accomplish what we’ve trained to do. If you’ve ever seen an Olympian fall at the world games, then you have some sense of the devastation athletes feel. Human compassion surfaces when we sense the pain of others. Awards should be given to each and every person who tries and fails, as opposed to the ones who are so afraid of failing they do not try at all.

Jesus completed yet another forty days of spiritual training with His beloved. After His death and resurrection, Jesus continued to appear and teach the disciples about the Kingdom of God. There was no doubt that Christ had succeeded in the life’s mission; taking upon Himself the sins of humanity in exchange for new and everlasting life in Him. For those who did not yet know Him, Jesus' life work may have seemed to be a dismal failure. Many wondered why the man who could heal so many and raise people from the dead could not save Himself from the cruel cross. They could not see that He had conquered death once and for all. Yet, the disciples who saw Him high and lifted up, who placed their fingers in his wounds and held their hands in His side, knew the whole Truth. Jesus Christ is the real deal! And the smiles on their faces pretty much told the rest of the story. This is the time to celebrate new life!

A lot can happen in forty days. Disbelief melts at the foot of the cross. Ordinary human hearts are transformed into Christ followers. Belief gives rise to courage as fearless ones share His message of salvation around the world. Facing guaranteed physical punishment and cruel emotional suffering, Jesus' physical presence in the world was more than enough hope to sustain the faithful as they began taking His Word out into the streets. The only reward they long to receive is the crown of life from the One who died to set them free - the same crown they will lay down at His feet in heaven.

Where will your heart be in forty short days? Will you place your faith in Jesus Christ? Will He take the mustard-seed faith that has been planted in you and grow it exponentially for Kingdom work? Will the fear of following Him melt into strength and courage that you cannot explain away? Are you willing to run full force into the arms of your Savior, knowing He will be there to catch you, even if you fall?

The next forty days could entirely change the direction of your life.

Grace and peace,

Deb Spaulding

Faith UMC - St. Charles, MO


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