Want What You’ve Got! (the end)

Rose from ashesI sit at the kitchen table, slowly addressing the huge stack of graduation announcements for my son. My youngest, who ten minutes ago still needed me to lay down beside him at bedtime so that he could fall asleep. I look at the young man in the photos as I stuff cards into envelopes, and I’m genuinely mystified as to where the time has gone. This parenting adventure, though overrated at times, has been more sweet than bitter and I’m suddenly aware of just how difficult it’s going to be to let go. I can’t believe we’re down to the last month of high school – and childhood’s end.

Sitting across from her, I can’t help but see the toll this cancer has taken. It’s a short visit, but it feels infinitely more important than any face-time we’ve ever had before. We sing, we pray, we talk, we laugh, and all the while I’m crying tears on the inside, fully aware of how surreal these moments are. And how holy this space is. And how ill-prepared we are for life to end.

Were you there when they crucified my Lord? I wasn’t either, but today it isn’t a stretch for me to imagine how Jesus’ family of followers felt as the horrific events of “good” Friday played out. No one wants what they’ve got when something beautiful is ending, whether that thing is childhood, a relationship, a job, or the life of someone they love. But Jesus taught that endings are a prelude to new beginnings:

“It is a fact that a grain of wheat must fall to the ground and die before it can grow and produce much more wheat. If it never dies, it will never be more than a single seed. Whoever loves the life they have now will lose it. But whoever is willing to give up their life in this world will keep it. They will have eternal life.” John 12:23-25 (ERV)

Kids grow up and become adults, and the baby I once held will one day nurture life in others, too. People die. Sisters and mothers and daughters – and even the Savior of the world – reach the end of their days, and their lives are planted like seed so that the rest of us can grow to be better, stronger, kinder, wiser people. We may not see the bloom on this side, but I am convinced that the garden that awaits us is a resurrection garden, full of life and color and fruit and energy that this broken world of ours could never sustain.

When you don’t want the endings you’ve got, you are in good company  – even Jesus asked for a Plan B. But just as Jesus’ life did not end with His death, but ushered in the Kingdom of God, so your endings will be the start of something God-ordained and new.

It’s hard to see it now, I know, but seed takes time to grow. Give it time – and Want What You’ve Got while you wait.

Daily Questions: What are the endings you are facing today? Some endings feel good! What do you look forward to in this next, new season? Some endings are brutal. What do you dread most as you face this loss/change/transition? Maybe you’ve been holding onto a “seed” that, if planted, might bring life and joy and health and good stuff to others! Think about what needs to die in your life so that God’s resurrection garden can grow.

A Legacy of ACTION L4L.30

The WORDHealthy_feet

“Jesus Prays For His Disciples: ‘I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world. They were yours; you gave them to me and they have obeyed your word. Now they know that everything you have given me comes from you. For I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them. They knew with certainty that I came from you, and they believed that you sent me. I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours. All I have is yours, and all you have is mine. And glory has come to me through them.’” John 17:6-10 (New International Version)

There is practically no part of the Gospels more revealing of the heart and mission of Jesus than this prayer for His followers, as found in John chapter 17. As has been our Lenten discipline, let’s hear these words of Jesus again, through the paraphrase of The Message:

“I spelled out your character in detail to the men and women you gave me. They were yours in the first place; then you gave them to me, and they have now done what you said. They know now, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that everything you gave me is firsthand from you, for the message you gave me, I gave them, and they took it and were convinced that I came from you. They believed that you sent me. I pray for them. I’m not praying for the God-rejecting world but for those you gave me, for they are yours by right. Everything mine is yours, and yours mine, and my life is on display in them.”

The APP

The forty days of Lent are nearly over.

Tomorrow we remember the words Jesus spoke over His last supper with friends.

On Friday we will commemorate the sacrificial death of our Savior, Jesus.

And on this day we complete our Literal 4 Lent adventure, looking forward to the resurrection celebration that is about to explode onto the scene, in our churches and in our hearts, come Sunday.

Jesus has provided the perfect words of summary for us in this prayer poured out on behalf of those whose lives had blossomed in concert with His own years of ministry on the earth. As Jesus speaks to His Father on behalf of His students, we can’t help but catch a glimpse of the legacy being left behind. A legacy marked by words like:

Revealed. Obeyed. Now they know. Gave and accepted. Knew with certainty. Believed. Done what you said. Firsthand. Convinced.

All of these are ways the Messiah chose to describe His work with His disciples to His Father. And all of these words indicate Jesus’ pleasure at the responses and activity of those who were closest to Him.

Not only is Jesus saying that His followers finally ‘got it,’ leaving His words as an endorsement of their future ministry in the world, but He is summing up His own work as well. And in the summary we find a legacy worth embracing, continuing, and one day, leaving behind – just as Jesus did.

This legacy of Jesus is not a legacy of opinions, ideas or bullet points.

Jesus didn’t just leave behind for His followers a legacy of good memories and amazing stories, to be told and re-told for generations to come.

Jesus didn’t pass along material items of worth, to be guarded and regarded as treasure throughout the centuries.

No, Jesus’ legacy to us is a legacy of ACTION. A legacy of revelation and obedience, knowing and accepting, giving and believing, convincing and DOING.

This prayer of Jesus reveals that He knew full well He had completed His mission. He did what He was sent to do.

His mission was to prepare us to complete OURS.

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