"Middle Days"

Ann Fuqua (Voronezh, Russia - day before Easter 2007) and... on March 31, 2016

Descent_from_the_Cross Descent from the Cross (1634), by Rembrandt, hangs in the Hermitage Museum, Saint Petersburg, Russia.

Lord, what was it like for your followers, your believers who had left everything and followed you for three years?

Their lives had been changed radically because of you.  They loved you passionately in their flawed imperfect lives.  But what was it like for Peter and James and John, Philip and the others?  For Mary and Martha and Lazarus who you miraculously raised from the dead and now all stood facing the reality (surreal) of your death.  Their Lord.  Their Christ.  What was it like for your mother Mary as she agonized over watching your crucifixion?  What was it like for them between Good Friday and Easter morning?

Shock?  Numb?  Despair?  Grief?  Anger?  Confusion?  Hopelessness?  Fear?  Abandoned?  Tricked?  Forsaken?  Perplexed?  Bewildered?

Oh Lord, what was it like on the "middle day"?  A day that probably seemed to last forever in the hearts and minds of your loved ones.  The crucifixion day was filled with events.  Events filled with horror, terror and sadness.  And of course, on the third day that we focus so much on, the day of your glorious resurrection - the feelings explode with joy, delight, shock, amazement, wonder, gratefulness, and an indescribable peace, knowing and seeing for themselves that you are risen indeed!

But the day in the middle - what must have been the most horrible day in the history of believers.  The day between a promise given, 'seemingly' a promise broken and then finally, a promise fulfilled.  At that point in history, the believers didn't have the indwelling Holy Spirit to comfort, lead and guide them.  He came after.  And He is within all believers today.

He is with us in the worst of our worst "middle days".  Those days when we feel, for whatever reason, we feel incredibly sad, or shocked, or numb, full of despair, grief, anger, confusion, hopeless, fearful, terrified, abandoned?

The difference with our "middle days" and the one that the disciples and lovers of Jesus faced over 2,000 years ago is the presence of God in the power of the Holy Spirit dwelling within us, comforting us, teaching us, convicting us.

We truly are NOT left alone as orphans.  Before Jesus left, He told the disciples that He would send a helper for them.

What a gift!  What a gift we celebrate this Easter season.  We celebrate that Christ Jesus, our Lord, paid the ultimate price for our sins by dying on the cross.  And we celebrate His glorious resurrection and appearing, proclaiming that He had conquered death once and for all.

And we celebrate the fact that on those "middle days" in our lives - when we are confused, fearful, angry, feeling abandoned, that we have the indwelling third person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit, to get our focus off the lies and on to The Truth.  The Truth that He IS risen.  He is risen indeed.  And He is at work in the midst of our darkest "middle days".

Thank you, Almighty God, for the vastness of who You are - Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  And thank you for each of the roles You play in our lives.  In our past, in our present, including our "middle days", and in all our days to come.

You are truly worthy of our worship now and forever.  In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

God, remind me of this truth when I face my "middle days".  Those days when I question if what I am doing really matters or if it's really true.

I'm reminded of the story John Maisel, one of the founders of East-West, tells of Jim Neathery coming into his office right before he was moving his family to Albania to serve God in a very distant, foreign land.

Jim asked John to tell him once again that it was true.  The life, death and resurrection of Jesus was actually true.  Because if it wasn't, he didn't want to do this to his family.

Maisel, as only Maisel can, once again proclaimed the Truth of the Gospel of the Christ to his brother Jim.  And then they prayed together, to a risen, living Christ, seated on the right hand of the Father.  And the indwelling Holy Spirit was praying with groanings too deep for words, as Jim put his family on that plane.

Jim and his family have faced many "middle days" in the five years they served in Albania and since then on returning to Dallas because of Jim's debilitating neurological disease.  But oh, they are not alone in those "middle days".  They have grown deeper and more in love with their Savior.  And they are being used powerfully as they are trusting and being led by the Holy Spirit.

I love their story, the little I know of it, and with the painful, confusing parts of it.  It inspires me to hang on through my "middle days" that come - my days between death and resurrection.

Thank you God for all things.  Specifically, I thank You today, this day before Easter 2007, for your Holy Spirit who indwells me always and for the Body of Christ who surround me - all pointing me to You - my Abba Father.  Amen.

(Ps. 51:10-11)

"Create in me a clean heart of God, and renew a steadfast spirit with me.  Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me."

Note in my NIV Bible on this verse:

No believer of the present Church Age need ever pray, "Do not take your Holy Spirit from me", for Christ promised His own that the Spirit would "be with you forever" (Jn. 14:16; Eph 4:30).  But it is always proper for the Christian to pray that he may be conformed to the conditions essential to the full ministry of the Spirit.

John 14:16--  "And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Counselor (parakletos - one called alongside to help; thus a counselor, an advocate) to be with you forever - the Spirit of Truth.  The world cannot accept Him, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him.  But you know Him, for He lives with you and will be IN you." (emphasis mine)  "I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you."

Eph. 4:30

"And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption."

Wow!  Thank You Lord for this precious time with you.  You are risen.  You are risen indeed!