Whether you are a Mary or a Gardener

Thoughts on John 20:11-18

Where in my life do I feel like Mary? Standing outside the tomb weeping? Dreams have died?  Hope is lost? Despair has set in? I can’t think of any area of my life so disheartened. So I will sit and allow the HS to awaken my sorrow. Nothing comes to my awareness. So thank you for that, Lord. But I know there are many who weep with Mary. So caught up with sorrow that your figure and voice are unrecognizable. Teach me how to help them hear you call their name.

  1. Dare to ask why. Lord, make me bold like the angels, recognizing and validating the other’s sadness or suffering. This takes a lot of selflessness on my part which I resist. To inquire after another’s heart means I will have to attentively listen to their response. This takes time and presence and I admit, I hoard my time and attention. Lord, grant me the grace to love well enough to ask why and remain emotionally connected to the ones you love.
  2. Ask questions that uncover the pain. Jesus, you asked the same question the angels did and then you went one layer deeper, “Whom are you seeking?” Lord, help me help people know that the alleviation of their pain is found in you. They may be crying over a loss of health, a difficult job, unruly children, all valid reasons to be sorrowful; but restored health, a new job or well-behaved children will not ultimately erase the source of their sadness.  Lord, teach me to gently point them to the who they seek, not the what they seek.
  3. Speak to them the personal words of Jesus. When you called her by her name, she recognized you. Attune my heart to hear the words of love and comfort you want to communicate to the one you love, and have given me to love in your place. This is risky! Disguise yourself as a gardener in me, let me be the channel, connecting you with the one you love. I need to get out of the way, there is no room for pride on my part. My job is to listen to the other and to you and by faith offer the love your Spirit prompts. A little scary.

Addendum: So for the Mary’s out there. Know the Lord knows your sorrow and is near whether you recognize him or not. He may show up through your best friend, or by reading this post. Listen for your name.

Legitimate, but unnecessary fear

Thoughts on Matthew 28:8-15

The Mary’s went to the tomb, just to be at the place where the one they loved lay buried. The shock of an earthquake, the fright of an angel descending, the power of the rolled stone, the awe of an empty tomb, the hope of their loved one’s resurrection being true, the job of passing the message on to the other disciples, no wonder they quickly departed with fear and great joy.

They obeyed and you met them. There’s a lesson here for me. When given a word or a work to accomplish by the Holy Spirit, I am to set to the task. The work will arouse fear and joy within me, as any God-given assignment should. Fear because the work is beyond me, I will need to depend upon you to get it done. Joy because I get to do it! You’ve chosen me to be your hands and mouth, what a privilege.

I’ve found this principle true regardless of the size of the task. I’m a city mouse transplanted to the country and the idea of planting a garden ignites great fear and insecurity within me; I don’t know what the heck I’m doing, I could do it all wrong.

I am called to capture your work with my words, again fear and insecurity; I don’t have anything worth saying, it’s all been said before by much more eloquent and wise people.

IMG_4529In both situations joy emerges as I obey. The delight in clearing a space of weeds, so daffodils can emerge; the satisfaction that comes from pushing the publish button on my blog; all I’m responsible for is to do as I’ve been asked, the fruit is your job. My garden and my heart are transformed through such obedience. I remind myself that joy is a fruit of the spirit, it cannot be manufactured, only grown. Tend your garden, dear Jesus.

You met the Mary’s with the words, “Do not be afraid.” My fear at the assignment is legitimate, but not necessary. When doing what you’ve asked of me, in partnership with you, there is no need for fear. I cannot fail, I cannot be defeated, I will not be shamed. I can confidently go about the business I’ve been given. Heck, you turned death into victory. It is not beyond your ability to transform my attempts at weeding and writing into things of beauty and truth. So be it.

Thank you and amen.