Things are different now....

Thursday, April 24, 2014

The smell of chalk always makes me smile because I go back to my first classroom and the people in it. I remember their faces and their stories, the smell of kerosene on many of their clothes, heavy jackets masking the smells of unwashed bodies. I see in front of me kids bobbling, tossed from place to place, school to school from classroom to office to jail and back to me. I feel small, helpless, but strangely most always hopeful.
I see thick glasses and even thicker walls built for security, protection, sometimes both. I remember their offerings to me of bottled cokes left in secret on my desk if I was having a particularly bad day. Those carbonated pick me ups were truly gifts, several of my girls pitching in pocket change scrounged up for days sometimes from sidewalks, bus floors, couch cushions. They could have kept it, but they gave. 
I hear raw emotions blurted out in lewd conversation and I wonder who in the world raised kids would not shudder to think an adult may hear their words. At IEP meetings to determine crucial steps in their education and future lives beyond the walls of High School I wondered still because the chair left for these parents sat empty.
In their obscenities I learned to hear brokenness and in their offerings I saw love. And we grew. Together in the chalk dust filled room of less than organized chaos we grew together and we loved hard and we fought hard. And I often felt so small. But I learned to to see God there in a way I have never ever seen him. 
Things were different now for me. Change had happened and I would never be the same. 
I must admit to you that this has proven to be a really difficult week! I have been on the mountain top with so much favor seemingly being heaped on me, but this week I have watched as people I love have been hurled into unthinkable places. My heart aches and I feel so small.

I know we have all been there. I know that we all have seasons when it feels like the wheels are flying off. It's so hard. 
Today in my devotion I read John 20:11-19 and I had to share because it was truth to a troubled soul. 
11 Now Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb ^12 and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot.

^13 They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?”

“They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.” ^14 At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus.

^15 He asked her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?”

Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.”

^16 Jesus said to her, “Mary.”

She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means “Teacher”).

^17 ^ Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”

^18 Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them that he had said these things to her.
 So, first of all Mary. When the others (men) had gone away, she came to see her Jesus. Brent alluded to the fact that he and I operate very differently in SS last week. I'm a nurturer, he's a get stuff don-er.. I couldn't help but think that again, Jesus chose Mary (a woman) to be the first to see Him! And not only the first to see Him but in essence the first Missionary as Anne V. commented today on the IF Bible Study video! He chose the nurturer, the woman to be the first witness to the resurrection. What an honor and privilege to be the first to see and go give that news!! 
So, she thinks he's the garner and then he turns to her and simply says her name. Mary. She runs to Him and He basically pushes her away saying in verse 17-
Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”  God told her that she couldn't hold on the same way she had before.
Things were different now. Change had taken place. It will never be the same. 
 And things are different for a lot of people I know now. I shared with you about my former student. Oh how my heart aches for her and the baby she had alone, in an abandon house, the one she put in a trashcan to die. The thought of my classroom from above has swirled in my head for days. I remember. I see a coke bottle and I bawl thinking of how many times that girl dug deep into pockets and said "want me to go get you a coke? I found a little money." or "Mrs. Keel, you so crazy, you know I love ya, do" or how many times I took her in the rest room to wash her up because she hadn't bathed in days. I remember her smile and I love her so. I have rocked myself methodically back and forth in my chair with hot tears burning wondering why in the world girls like her have to live alone and vulnerable in a world like this and why the viscous cycle can't be snapped in an instant by God. I've gone there. 
The Tippings, who's parents both go to our church already having buried 6 tiny babies are now facing stage 4 cancer of their sweet miracle baby Zoe, born on the anniversary of Courtney's Daddy's death. A routine trip to the zoo bathroom leaves them reeling 48 hours later with a little girl who has stage 4 cancer in her kidneys and lungs. Why God? Their lives are forever changed already. Just why?

I don't know how to even try to understand it. 
Things are different now. Change has taken place. It will never be the same.
I do know that God makes His character clear in this passage though. I do know that on the days when I feel like the world is spinning so out of control, the ones like this week when I sit to numb to do anything but cry out, I know that God is still who He says He is. I do know that on the days that I shake my fists in the air at injustice and I catch puddles of mascara stained teardrops on my clean white shirt over people that I love that God knew the changes were coming and HE has prepared a way for me to cling to Him through them in a new way. 
It won't ever be the same, it wasn't ever supposed to be because every time I have to regroup and figure out how to find Him in the madness He shows me a part of His comfort I have never seen before. We go deeper if I will just trust in the magnitude of the best promise revealed in this scripture. His son, given for me, for all the dark and hard and unfair and injustice, all that beaten and hung up and risen and made new, for me, for
those I love and those I shake fists mightily for....
Things are different now. Change has taken place. It will never be the same. 
This is the passage of scripture that all of Christianity hinges on because if the resurrected Jesus was never seen then everything else crumbles. I know that God is just because Mary got called by name, by the risen Jesus and so did I and so did you.
Sometimes I want my prayers answered the way I think they should happen. Happen to you much? But sometimes only a heightened level of struggle puts me aware of my need of new perspective. Sometimes in life God takes me into things and asks me to leave others behind that I just don't understand. Sometimes God takes things away from me that I would really, really, really like to hold on longer to. And it's in those moments of choosing to be obedient to new perspective or holding tight to comfort or routine that I show Him whether or not I trust the sacrifice that bled out and died a shameful, horrific, horrid death for me.
When I choose to let my circumstance define my confidence in Him I simply offer up a picture of where my faith lies.
Hebrews 12:1-3, the roots of this whole study Restless says this:
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, ^2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. ^3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. 
Wow! Today I think God is asking me to throw off how I have been in relationship with Him before these changes, before this tragedy, before these trials and this immense heartache. He's asking me to FIX MY EYES on HIM. I think that means eyes wide open to take in all of who He is trying to allow me to see, not just the familiar.

He is reminding me that He is the AUTHOR AND PERFECTOR of my FAITH. He writes my story, He has penned in my heartache and sorry and if I choose obedience also my JOY!

He's reminding me that HE went to the cross, not me. He ENDURED the shame and scorn and now HE SITS at the right hand of the throne!! And it says He endured such opposition from sinners SO THAT I will not grow weary and loose heart! 
Excuse my bluntness here,  but that is one hell of an encouragement! I mean, think of how you encourage the people you love. I don't know go with me here, flowers, a hand written card, if you are my people it's a good ole sappy text maybe, ice cream for good grades, an allowance for your kids.

Our encouragement from the God of the Universe up was a crucifixion.

Breathe that in for a minute.

He says right there in verse 3, that it wasn't JUST for eternity, but that he endured so that we would not grow weary and loose heart!
Things are different now. Times have changed. Nothing will ever be the same again. 
What change has taken place in your life that is demanding a new way to interact with Jesus? Let's give them to Him together today shall we? 
I am confident that even in these times that He is still capable of Immeasurably More than we could ever ask or imagine.
love & blessings, 


  1. Love this. Thank you for the reminder and encouragement.

    1. Thanks for stopping by!!thanks for stopping by! Isn't that what it's all about... Love and encouragement... For real! We all need it! It takes a village!


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