Turning Point

On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.”

John 20:19-20

It struck me, while reading these verses this morning, that these two verses encapsulate a complete turning point for the disciples. It has to be the darkest time in their lives. Jesus, who they were so devoted to, had just been crucified and they were now milling about in a dark room behind closed and locked doors, for fear of persecution, trying to figure out how to stomach the situation they suddenly found themselves in. The focus of their life had been cut off. Their meaning and purpose of life had taken a dreadful blow and they were, seemingly, left with nothing.

The reality, of course, is that Jesus knew precisely where they were and what their state of mind was. He knew exactly where to find them and closed, locked doors were no barrier to Him. He came to them and the first thing he said was “Peace Be With You!” In fact, this part must have been important because, later on, verse 21 indicates that he repeated these same words. He knew what waves of torment were running through their minds and he wanted them to be at peace because, even though they didn’t understand what was unfolding, He did. He wanted them to trust Him.

Again, though, because of His awareness of exactly what they were thinking and feeling, He showed them the wounds in His hands and in His side from the crucifixion and, “The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.”

The sixteen month journey that led from the initial diagnosis of my Dad’s stage four glioblastoma brain tumor in October 2010 to his passing on February 20 of this year continues to be the lens through which I view the life that I have left now that he is gone. Some days are better than others, but, the loss of the best man in my wedding, my life-long best friend, is one that continues to impact me on a daily, perhaps hourly, basis.

There are nights when I lie down in bed and, as the noise of the day recedes, my mind drifts back to my Dad and the difficulty of the last two weeks, in particular, of our time time together when he, his brother, and I were staying together under one roof around the clock. The interactions that I had with him at that time along with so many other details and distinct moments in those final days when he couldn’t articulate recognizable words anymore (except for “goddammit!”) and my uncle and I found ourselves all too often at a loss, have left deep impressions on me as a person that I’m struggling, each day, to figure out how to deal with.

Like the disciples who were hiding and milling about in a darkened room behind closed doors, my heart and my soul far short of joyful and they have borne blisters that cause the whole of me to bristle at the seemingly random intervals that memories of Dad and how it all went down surface . I fall apart for a moment before I get myself back together in order to move on and, as Dad would say when he was still able to, “keep putting one foot in front of the other.”

But, I am aware enough to realize that what it is that allows me to move forward at all is the grace of God and the notion that He knows, like He did with the disciples, exactly where I am mentally, spiritually, and physically, and that he has a bigger plan that, while I don’t necessarily understand every step, will end up being well worth the journey.

It is the peace that He, first and foremost, gave to the disciples, that He has also given to me. While the pain and the moments of darkness are, indeed, very real, it is the peace that I have through faith in Jesus that has carried me away from every each and every low point, onward and upward. It is this peace that will continue to carry me to the point when I, too, will see the scars in His hands and the wound in His side, and be “overjoyed” as the disciples were once they knew that it was Him and that He had come back for them.

“…I know you enough to know to trust you with what I don’t…Lord please help me to be patient with what is unseen…”

-Josh Harmony

The Hunter, The Scientist, & The Bible Belt Preacher

Like backwoods hunters in season
We scour the scrolls looking for the best place to lay traps
Cover the rusted, steel teeth with leaves and rotting wood

Conspire to grab God by the ankle and contain Him
So that we can run off and let loose in a wild orgy on the other side of the hill
Knock aside consideration of context with the barrell of a 12-gauge syntax

Hold fast to our cognitively concrete interpretation
At the expense of abundant life steeped in the infinite
We shed our clothes and drunkenly stumble into the backseat with Lucifer

Humanity has merely opened the cover of God’s cookbook
Yet we claim that we wrote it

There is no need to be worried by facetious people who try to make the Christan hope of ‘Heaven’ ridiculous by saying they do not want ‘to spend eternity playing harps’. The answer to such people is that if they cannot understand books written for grown-ups, they should not talk about them. All the scriptural imagery (harps, crowns, gold, etc.) is, of course, a merely symbolical attempt to express the inexpressible. Musical instruments are mentioned because for many people (not all) music is the thing known in the present life which most strongly suggests ecstasy and infinity. Crowns are mentioned to suggest the fact that those who are united with God in eternity share His splendour and power and joy. Gold is mentioned to suggest the timelessness of Heaven (gold does not rust) and the preciousness of it. People who take these symbols literally might as well think that when Christ told us to be like doves, He meant that we were to lay eggs.
-Mere Christianity, by C.S. Lewis