20 April 2019 - Loudon County, Tennessee
I was walking on a gray day today between Farragut and Philadelphia in Tennessee, via US Highway 11. I passed through Loudon and crossed the Tennessee River. It was chilly (in the low 40’s) and windy, and just about the time I decided to stop for lunch, it started raining. But before that lunch, I was walking and thinking about Holy Saturday - Jesus in the tomb - and Easter Sunday - our Lord’s resurrection. And the most basic of questions came into my mind, perhaps the same question that a 5-year-old might ask. How did God do that? How did God raise Jesus from the dead? And my answer, after 61+ years on the planet, 40 years as a committed Christian, three years of seminary, and 27+ years as a priest is… I don’t know. But I believe with all my heart and soul that God gave Jesus new life, after he was deader than dead. Yes, it was the encounter of the women and the disciples with the risen Jesus that sent them out in a powerful new direction. Of course, that thing about the Holy Spirit coming on Pentecost, after Jesus’ ascension into heaven, helped too.
When I start reflecting on how Jesus was raised from the dead, I quickly move to the reality of a loving God giving us what we need. It was their experience of the risen Christ eating with them, talking with them, and walking to Emmaus with them that transformed the disciples from scared-to-death and hiding-behind-locked-doors people to empowered-by-the-love-and-power-of-God people.
Almost 7 weeks into my walk across the U.S., I now have story upon story of God giving me what I most need.
When I have needed lodging, it has come. (I have camped only two nights out of 48.)
When I have needed encouragement, it has come - from my wife, Julia, from our children, from my friends, from members of my prayer team, from other family members, from total strangers. (A woman pulled over in a parking lot yesterday after seeing me featured very briefly on the news on WATE-TV in Knoxville, got out of her car, and said, “Are you the guy who is walking?” When I said yes, she said, “Thank you! Thank you for what you are doing!” We talked for a few minutes (I found out she used to live in Steamboat Springs, Colorado), she asked if I needed any food, and then she thanked me again. And on a busy, noisy street, I was encouraged by a woman who pulled up out of nowhere. (It happened again today, by the way.)
When I have needed protection along busy roads with narrow shoulders as cars whiz by, and I have prayed to God, I have received that, too. (I have a whole new appreciation for seeing the Lord as my strength and my shield these days. See Psalm 28:7)
When I have needed guidance as to which way to go, I have received it, whether from people with local knowledge or from Google Maps or old-fashioned maps.
When I have needed companionship, God has provided that - in daily check-ins with Julia, with new friends I am meeting, with our children or with old friends who reach out at just the right time, through very loving dogs who belong to the people I am staying with (Katie just jumped up on the bed and rested her head on my leg as I was typing this!), with the presence of God that I find in the silence, through hymns that come to mind, or through nature.
I could go on and on. God has been providing everything I need for each day, including a perfectly positioned Mexican restaurant that served really good food when I stopped for lunch today.
So… it makes perfect sense to me that when the disciples needed their Lord to be raised from the dead, he was! I don’t know how he was, but he was. Jesus was raised because our God gives us what we need - out of God’s great love, power, and mercy.
What is your experience of God showing up and providing you with healing, companionship, guidance, friends, love, encouragement, protection, material provisions, forgiveness, salvation, peace beyond understanding, or _______________?
The One who raised Jesus from the dead still shows up and transforms lives.