AN “EASTER MESSAGE” THAT IS APPROPRIATE FOR ALL SEASONS!
Last weekend (as I write) was what is commonly called “Easter Weekend”. On the Saturday morning, there suddenly came to my mind a “message” that was centred on the events between Jesus’ Crucifixion and His Resurrection. I wrote the “message” down, after which Mavis and I felt it right to send it to about two dozen of our close Christian friends (mainly, but not exclusively, outside the traditional church scene).
We were quite taken aback by the response. A surprising number of the people to whom we sent the message e-mailed back to say that, either, it had very much hit the nail on the head for them personally – or else it had been exactly what someone they knew needed, and they had forwarded it to the person concerned.
Because so many people found the message appropriate to their present circumstances, I am prompted to pass it on to yourselves – the readers of this website. Normally, I confine myself here to material that is of specific relevance to Believers who are serving the Lord outside the Institutional Church. (I assume that you get your general Christian encouragement from other sources.) However, the feedback I received from within quite a small group of Christians, many of whom are ‘Outsiders’, has prompted me to make these Easter Thoughts available to a wider readership. I trust that some of you, at least – whoever you are, and whenever you read this – will find that the following has something to say to you, in your present circumstances…
Last weekend, there suddenly came to my remembrance the words of an old (with old-fashioned wording) “spiritual song” we used to sing, way back in the 1970s! (It is almost word-for-word a copy of the Authorised Version’s translation of Psalm 30, verses 11 & 12)…
“Thou hast turned my mourning into dancing for Thee!
Thou hast put off my sackcloth!
Thou hast turned my mourning into dancing for Thee,
and has girded me with gladness!
To the end my glory may sing praises to Thee, and not be silent.
O Lord my God, I will give thanks unto Thee for ever.”
Mavis and I (and many of you to whom we are sending this ‘message’) don’t make too much of “times and seasons” in our Christian lives. However, it occurred to me that this is a description of the experience of Jesus’ disciples over the “Easter Weekend”. They were shattered because the wonderful time they had been having over the previous three years had been suddenly brought to an ignominious end, with the One they thought to be invincible having been been captured and executed, and all their hopes dashed. Yet the time came, on “Easter Day”, when their mourning was turned into dancing!
There is surely a “message” in this thought, and in the words of that old song. Jesus is the One who can turn mourning into dancing. He is the One who, if He is given the chance, can take the most hopeless of situations, and bring about an eventual outcome that sets our feet a-dancing. As Mavis and I look back on what are now quite long lives, we have seen this happen over and over again, both in our own experience, and in the experience of others. Admittedly, the Lord usually takes His time over the transformation, and Believers often have to echo the Old Testament cry: “How long, O Lord, how long?” It is also the case that, though we have eventually been able to put on our dancing shoes about a great many situations, there are some situations where we are still waiting for the Lord’s unravelling. Nowadays, however, we don’t wait impatiently, as we once did. We have seen enough to believe that the dancing will come, in His good time, for each situation we have entrusted to His care. At the first Easter, the disciples only had to wait three days for their mourning to turn to dancing! Long or short, however, this is what Jesus is able to do. One way of putting the EASTER MESSAGE is surely : NO MATTER WHAT THE SITUATION, JESUS IS THE ONE WHO CAN TURN OUR MOURNING INTO DANCING!
One other thought on this subject: The old song had a phrase in the third line: “…and not be silent”. We mustn’t be silent about this truth. We mustn’t be silent before the Lord. We must tell Him that we believe it, and appreciate it – and if we don’t feel convinced enough, we must ask Him to help us to see the reality in what is certainly a recurring theme in the Scriptures.
At the same time, we mustn’t be silent before those who don’t yet know the Lord. Another old song comes to mind…
“Put your hand in the hand of the One who stilled the waters.
Put your hand in the hand of the One who calmed the seas.”
One way of putting the GOSPEL MESSAGE is surely: LINK YOUR LIFE WITH THE ONE WHO TURNS MOURNING INTO DANCING. There is Someone who can deal with the tangles into which people get themselves, and the fears – about both Life and Death – with which, at some time or another, everyone is beset. There is a challenge here, as well as an encouragement. If we know this glorious truth, whenever an opportunity arises to share it, we mustn’t be silent!