This week, we prepare to enter Holy Week and reflect on Christ’s journey to the cross, His suffering and His glorious resurrection. This Easter season has been different for me, because for the first time in my life I have been reflecting about Jesus’ mother, Mary. You see I can relate to Mary this Easter because she too lost an adult child, not much older than Elizabeth. Before we go any further, let me state up front that I understand the significance of her son being Jesus, Emmanuel, Prince of Peace, the Alpha and the Omega, and I am in no way trying to compare my Lord’s sacrifice to the home going of Lizz and the boys. I am simply reflecting this season that Jesus was fully God and yet fully man and because of that He had an earthly mother who bore, raised and loved him as her child. So, this Easter season I contemplate about how did Mary grieve and heal. Did Jesus prepare His mother for those dark days? Did she know what was going to happen ahead of time? The Bible doesn’t say. Yes, Mary knew Jesus was the Messiah, God’s son. But did she know that would ultimately lead to the cross? Especially after his triumphant entry into Jerusalem on what we now celebrate as Palm Sunday?
During Jesus’ ministry when He taught on the Beatitudes, and stated “Blessed are those that mourn, for they shall be comforted” could He possibly have been thinking of his mother? Did Jesus pray for his mother to help her through that time of pain and sorrow? Since our Lord knows yesterday, today and tomorrow, He knew the grief and the sorrow His mother surely would experience, and how would He help her? Did Jesus shield her from that pain until the appointed hour when He was brutally beaten almost to the point of death, thorns pushed deep on his brow, and being stripped of His dignity? How was she able to deal with her child being so brutally beaten? Was she there to see first hand the severity of the Roman soldiers? What about when He was forced to carry His cross? Was she there to see Him fall and not be able to help Him? And yet after all of the suffering He endured, to then have nails hammered through His hands and feet. I close my eyes and wonder the pain Mary must have felt when she heard the nails being driven through her son’s flesh. Hands and feet that she washed, held, tended, and kissed. Hands that had touched her face, held her hand, and hugged her neck…..Mary, how did you bear to hear his voice cry out in agony when He was being nailed to the cross? How could you watch and bear the pain as they hoisted His cross only to see Him that knew no sin to hang between two vile criminals? Your son would be spit upon, cursed at and mocked. Mary, how did you bear seeing your Son fight for every breath? Experts that have studied the crucifixion have said that Jesus would have needed to push himself up to take pressure off his lungs in order to breathe. In John 19:25-27, we see that you Mary are at the cross. We learn from that verse that Jesus entrusted you to John, the disciple that He loved. What an act of love and honor. And so, Mary, you were there…..at the cross…….as your son died. I can not imagine. I can not. I can not fathom your pain, your helplessness as a mother wanting to take away the hurt and pain from your child. Did memories of Jesus taking his first steps, playing, singing and laughing flood your mind? Learning the skill of a carpenter by his Dad, Joseph? Or His miraculous birth with the heavenly host proclaiming his arrival? Oh Mary, how were you able to watch your child die in the most brutal of ways, to watch the Son of God, full of grace and truth take his last breath?
This Easter season, I have come to admire you Mary, mother of Jesus…..I can not imagine what “That Day” was like for you. I can not. Did you feel the presence of God the Father assuring you that it was part of His plan and this wasn’t some horrible mistake? I believe God the Father was with you in a special way “That Day” comforting you and giving you His grace just as Jesus stated in Matthew 5:4. I know that His amazing and wonderful grace was there to comfort you during those dark hours and days He knew you would face because He is always faithful.
So, Mary, mother of Jesus, I wonder how did you handle your sorrow when the sky turned dark and the earth shook? And what about those subsequent years of the anniversary of “That Day”? “That Day” became our Good Friday in our church liturgical calendar. I imagine that with each passing year on the anniversary of “That Day”, you began to see all the eternal things that were put into motion by your son’s sacrifice. I’m sure conversations, comments, and prayers that Jesus had said over his life began to be replayed in your mind. They would begin to make sense, and fall into place and you would begin to see the eternal significance of what “That Day” had put into motion. I’m sure that realization eased your pain and you came to realize once again as you did as a pregnant teen……that God has a plan and He is sovereign. And even though you may not see evidence or the significance at that moment, it doesn’t mean that it’s not there…..because His ways are perfect. And God never promised anyone an easy road. In fact, Jesus taught the opposite. And so Mary, I am sure you were once again an obedient servant who relied on God during those difficult hours and days. Relying on the One who was and is faithful……you trusted Him once again and walked by faith and not by sight.
So, even though the hole Lizz and the boys left in my heart is enormous–and painful, I too grieve with hope. Hope because of what my Savior did for me, for Lizz, for the boys on “That Day”. I have hope that God will use the brokenness and the pain for eternal significance for His kingdom and His glory. The Bible is full of broken people doing amazing things that were open to being available and obedient for God to use them. You see, Easter is not only the story of amazing love and sacrifice but it is also an amazing story of hope. Because of the cross and the resurrection, I believe with hope. I grieve with hope. Because my Lord overcame death, I have hope that I will not only see my beloved Jesus face to face, but will rejoice in the embrace of my daughter and grandsons. Can I get an AMEN?
So, God, during this week that we celebrate the resurrection and the passion of your son Jesus Christ, please use my brokenness, use my daughter and grandsons’ lives to draw others to you….that is my prayer. You are sovereign. I may not see how this will work together (Romans 8:28) at the moment, and I realize I will probably never understand completely until I am called home. But here is what I do know: You are faithful. Your ways are not always my ways. I do not have the “eternal” perspective. We are only here for a short time. In James 4:14 it tells us that we are just a “vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away”. And lastly, this is not our home.
John and I went to see “The Story” in San Antonio a few months after “That Day” when Lizz and the boys went home. As we were sitting there in the coliseum , listening to the stories of broken people being used by God in amazing ways, the program came to the story of the passion…..the suffering of our Lord and the story of “That Day” as seen through the eyes of the thief on the cross. The song is sung by Steven Curtis Chapman. The title of the song: “This is How Love Wins”.
This video graphically shows the suffering He endured because of His amazing love. To those reading these words, please stop and reflect about the enormity of that. Paul Washer states that “the hardest thing in the believer’s life is to believe that God loves you as much as He says He does.” He loves us so much that He sacrificed his Son so we could be made right with Him. The poignant lyrics bring me to weep every time I hear this song and watch it. I stand amazed at what love, what amazing love, that He would do this for me. The chorus particularly speaks to me:
This is how Love wins, every single time
Climbing high upon a tree where someone else should die
This is how Love heals, the deepest part of you
Letting Himself bleed into the middle of your wounds
This is what Love says, standing at the door
You don’t have to be who you’ve been before
Silenced by His voice, death can’t speak again
This is how Love wins
What can wash away my sin? Nothing but the blood, nothing but the blood
What can make me whole again? Nothing but the blood, nothing but the blood
Cause this is what Love says, standing at the door
You don’t have to be who you’ve been before
And silenced by His voice, death can’t speak again
This is how Love wins.
Lord Jesus please “bleed into the middle of my wounds and make me whole again……nothing but the blood, nothing but the blood”! Thank you for the hope and the promise that your voice has silenced death to never speak again and because of that promise I will be with you, Lizz, the boys and many of the saints that have gone before, where we will reign with you forever and ever!
I have specifically chosen these pictures of Lizz and the boys for this post because when I see these photographs, this is how I picture them going to their forever home to meet the one that laid down His life for us. A picture of a young woman and mother who loved her Lord and Savior, walking by faith, carrying her younger son on her hip and holding the hand of another young child, leading them to the One that is perfect, whose love has already won, and whose voice silenced death (Hallelujah!) , and who will hold them until I can one day.
May this Easter season, wherever you are on this journey of life, may the significance and gift of the cross bleed into your wounds and make you whole again because this is How Love wins! Amen. Julie