Today is Good Friday which is a big day in our household so I decided to write a Good Friday version of The Weekender to commemorate this very special day.
Every year on Good Friday our church does a service where 7 different people share their testimony inspired by the last 7 words Jesus shared on the cross. It is by far my favorite church service of the year. I thought I would do a post loosely inspired by this. Mine will not be full stories, but little snippets of how these words would speak to me today based on what God has been showing me lately in my life.
1. “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” An innocent man on a cross, with criminals on either side of him. He has been denied and deserted by those closest to Him. And then there’s us, He’s on the cross because of me too. And in the midst of His most extreme physical suffering, He lives out love and forgiveness. Until the very end, until His last breath. But most days, I live out judgement. That’s what I’ve been learning lately. And while His words are filled with love, mine can often be filled with offense. That has been my prayer these last few days. That my words would be marked by love, not judgement.
2. “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” If I am being honest, I often fear death. My own or those very near and dear to me. And now that I’m a mother, it’s even stronger. But this verse disarms the power of my fear. Today, if I were to die, I would be with my Creator in Paradise. Jesus’ death and resurrection gives me that hope and assurance. Without Him, I could be crippled by this fear. But God has been reminding me, there is nothing in this life I need but Him.
3. “Jesus said to his mother: “Woman, this is your son.” Then he said to the disciple: “This is your mother.” Reading these words as a mother now is so different. I can now see a glimpse of the agony Mary must have felt watching her son be mocked, betrayed and suffer in such severe ways. But she knew. This was God’s plan. It didn’t make it easier or less painful for her. As much as I want to protect Rose and craft the perfect plan for her life, I can’t. God is sovereign. His ways or not my ways. He has the perfect plan for her life. I know there are days ahead that I am going to hurt seeing my baby hurt. There are days now that I do, in small ways. But I try to keep reminding myself that she is in good hands because she is in His hands. My hands will fail her, but His never will.
4. “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” I uttered these words once. I can recall the moment I opened the door to doubt and it took a foothold in my heart. I sat on Vitaliy’s lap in the hallway of a hospital in Ukraine. We had already lost Vitaliy’s parents and little brother and his two sisters were in critical condition in the hospital. And one of them, his sister Tanya, looked as if she was going to lose the battle. I saw nothing good around us and I began to doubt His faithfulness. That little seed of doubt grew in my heart for 7 years. But God never let go of me. He never turned His back on me even when I thought the worst of Him. Until one day, He finally broke through my hard heart and reminded me of who He is and who I am. And He did it with so much love and grace. I was wrong about Him, all those years. His faithfulness never ended, nor did His love. And nothing demonstrates that better than this moment in Jesus’ life. When He died in my place. What love is that! While I wanted to reject this portion of God’s story for my life, Jesus walked faithfully through His story on the cross.
5. “I thirst.” Jesus was fully God, but He was fully human too. This word speaks to His humanity. I have never felt more human, more incapable and physically weak since becoming a mother. My body fails me every day. I haven’t slept 8 hours straight in more than a year. My baby is just not one who sleeps through the night. I have agonized over this. Cried over this. And prayed over this more than most things. It broke me. And I am so thankful it did. Because at my breaking point, came surrender. As I realized my weakness, I was reminded of His strength. In me, and around me, and in spite of me. All I need is Him. For my thirst, for my strength, for my salvation, for everything!
6. “It is finished.” These are the craziest words of all. Crazy! It is finished – He accomplished what He came to do. The cross didn’t just happen to Him. He chose it! He willed it! He was in control. He came to do this very thing and He did it. His job is now done, He says. This is the best news of today. I’m convinced this has to be the reason why it’s called Good Friday. Because what can be good about a man dying on a cross? It seems so dark and horrid. But it’s so good for you and me! Because He took our place. My sin should result in death and eternal separation from my heavenly Father, but…BUT JESUS. He took on my penalty and sentencing and His death let me go free.
7. “Father, into your hands I commend my Spirit.” I was a Christian during those 7 years of doubt I mentioned earlier. The journey of a Christian doesn’t mean perfection. And it’s definitely not all fairytale, like I originally thought. And if I’m being totally honest, most days I feel like I would prefer staying here on earth than going to heaven to be with Him. There are a lot of things I like down here! But that’s not my hope and prayer. In reality, I know I’m missing out. As I read God’s word and His promises, I can see that I’m missing out on so many blessings that He’s already given to me. Like I’m sitting on a treasure chest of blessings, been given the key, and yet, I choose most days not to open it. Paul said, to live is Christ and to die is gain. To die is gain! The more I get to know Him, the more I start to believe those words, the more I long to be with Him.
I am praying for you and for me, that we would accept and enjoy this amazing gift only found in Jesus. I hope you all have a wonderful and special Easter weekend.