This morning as I look outside, the sun is beginning to shine fully, the fog is lifting and the dew is thick everywhere. This is not only a classic sight of the spring moving into summer, but particularly this year, it is a sight that captures the essence of what we as a nation corporately, and ourselves individually, have been going through the past 11 weeks.
As it seems each day, the fog surrounding COVID-19 is lifting a bit more so that the light and truth of what it is and what it isn't begins to be seen with greater clarity for which we are thankful. But even among the clarity, there is still much to understand and wade through, just as there is in walking through the field or the lawn in the dew of the morning. The more we walk, the further and the wetter we get. As our shoes show the marks of moisture on the leather or the mesh, so too, as we look back, the grass also shows where we have stepped and from where we have come.
It is good for us to think about and look back on how far we have come in this time of challenge and change; particularly as we look at the church. For 6 weeks we could only worship with ten present and the remainder from afar. Now for the last 4 weeks, we have been gathering in groups of up to 100 and soon, Lord willing, maybe even more. In these moments it is good for us to see the fog lifting, to show that faith is not only still existing, but growing. Reflect on how your faith in Christ Jesus has been growing as you being this new month.
Dear Graduates of 2020,
Congratulations to each of you! You have completed the task of assignments and requirements in ways that have required extreme adjustments, changes, and challenges of your time and energy that no one saw coming, and which no generation has really faced in the last 100 years. But you have taken it in stride and have persevered, which is what you were born to do.
Many of you entered the world around the challenges of 9/11/01. You grew to see the economic crash of 2008-09. And now as you enter adulthood, you do so facing the challenges of COVID-19 in all its impacts on education, sports, economics, and faith. And yet you have persevered.
Perseverance, Paul says in Romans 5:3-5, "Is that which we know as suffering producing perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit whom he has given us."
Indeed, Graduates 2020, this is true of you. You have known suffering from many things and yet you have seen and you have shown that sufferings of any and all kinds produces perseverance, character, and hope. All of these items have been with you up through the present moment and will need to be with you for the whole of your life.
Life, which you know, will have its twists and turns, sudden curves, and at times unending moments of the mundane. Yet in it all, God is working. He is working out his will. He is working out his plan. He is working out his purpose for the world and for your life which includes preserving you and persevering through you.
This is what the author of Hebrews also reminds us in the famous chapter of Hebrews 12 in verses 2-3 where it reads, "Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart."
This is our prayer for you, Graduates of 2020, that in all things you will keep your eyes on Jesus and not lose heart. Though the world may be falling apart at times; though trouble may surround you at times; keep your eyes fixed on Jesus, the author and perfecter of YOUR faith!
Keep your eyes fixed on Jesus, who endured the Cross on which your sins died, so that you would live as one set free, as one made truly alive. Jesus endured it all for you so that you would endure through all things, in him.
Persevere with Jesus, Graduate 2020, for HE WILL continue to see you through.
In God's Love you are:
- Accepted - "Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God." Romans 15:7
- Beautiful - "You are altogether beautiful, my darling; there is no flaw in you." Song of Songs 4:7
- Chosen - "You did no choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit - fruit that will last." John 15:16
- Delighted in - "He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me." Psalms 18:19
- Enough - "His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness." 2 Peter 1:3
- Free - "It is for freedom that Christ has set us free." Galatians 5:1
- Gifted - "Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others." 1 Peter 4:10
- Heaven-bound - "But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ." Philippians 3:20
- Important - "And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows." Matthew 10:30-31
- Jewel - "They will sparkle in his land like jewels in a crown." Zechariah 9:16
- Known - "You have searched me, Lord, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar." Psalms 139:1-2
- LOVED - "See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!" 1 John 3:1
- Masterpiece - "For we are God's masterpiece." Ephesians 2:10
- New Creation - "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!" 2 Corinthians 5:17
- Overcomer - "You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world." 1 John 4:4
- Protected - "But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one." 2 Thessalonians 3:3
- Qualified - "And giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light." Colossians 1:12
- Rescued - "For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins." Colossians 1:13-14
- Strong - "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord you God will be with you wherever you go." Joshua 1:9
- Temple - "You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore, honor God with your bodies." 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
- Unique - "For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb." Psalms 139:13
- Victorious - "But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." 1 Corinthians 15:57
- Washed - "Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow." Psalms 51:7
- eXample - "In everything set them an example by doing what is good." Titus 2:7
- Young, but Able - "Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, and in purity." 1 Timothy 4:12
- Zealous - "Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord." Romans 12:11
There are many pictures in the Bible that demonstrate God's promises to his people. The rainbow with Noah, the empty tomb on Easter Sunday, and the tongues of fire on the apostles during Pentecost are just three of the myriad of examples one can find and study when we read the Bible. One of the most obvious and well-known symbols is the cross. This is not only a symbol, for us it is an actual event that happened when Jesus died on it to save us from our sins. We hold this symbol with the highest regard, create songs about it, and reflect on it as we study other parts of God's Word.
I am always amazed by the connection the cross carries throughout the whole Bible from the beginning to its end. In Genesis 3:15, we read, "And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel." This is a foreshadowing of Jesus' death on the cross which totally defeated Satan and sin. In Revelation, we read about the impact of the cross as well. In chapters 5, verses 11 and 12, we see a picture of the angels praising Jesus for what he has done, "This I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. In a loud voice, they were saying: "Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!" Isn't it amazing to consider that the Bible begins and ends with mentions of the cross and of Jesus' death on it! There are countless other examples in Scripture that foreshadow the impact of the cross while not even mentioning the exact word or the event of Jesus' death.
I know we focus on the cross during the Lenten season and the Easter holiday. However, when Easter is over and we have celebrated the victory over the grave, that doesn't mean it's time to set aside the cross. The cross is a vital part of our faith, yes, but it is also a vital part of God's Word in every aspect, chapter, and verse. The cross should be at the forefront of everything we do, every book of the Bible we read, and every character we come across in the text.
There are those who will say that the Bible is made up, that it is some fairytale, and it doesn't matter to us today. The cross alone says otherwise. Just the simple fact that you can see the cross in every part of the Bible is a testament against that theory. The cross and belief in Jesus' at on that cross not only is our salvation, it is a constant reminder of how God is continually working throughout the stories of the Bible and in our stories as well. So, as we celebrate Easter and the empty tomb, I challenge all of us to look fro the cross and to its saving power. Don't stop when the Easter celebration is over. Continue to search for the cross in the rest of God's Word, and allow it to be your shining testament to a watching and waiting world that Jesus saves and that He saved us.
The Wheeled Worshipper