On Faith: Focus on the eternal, not the temporary
I spent more time in my car than usual last week. With traffic laws in mind, I drove like a bandit to be with my mother's sister. Her son had died unexpectedly and I wanted to be with her when I could.
Due to my schedule, that ended up being in the night, driving home in the wee hours of the morning. Traveling through the dark over empty stretches of highway gave me a lot of time to think.
I thought a lot about what it means when a life is cut short. Outliving a child is possibly life's cruelest trick. The word that played on my mind over-and-over is "disappointment." A simple word. An understatement at best.
However, among all the other feelings, we are disappointed when something ends too soon. Everything we expected to happen evaporates. Any plans we had for the future are aborted, and all that we hoped for is gone.
Amidst my grief for my aunt and her suffering, I thought of the disappointment that a sudden death causes. Settled into this frame of mind, and the fact that it was Holy Week, I couldn't help thinking of the disciples after Jesus was crucified.
On the road to Emmaus, two men were walking along when Jesus came up beside them, only they did not recognize him. He asked them what they were talking about. Their faces were downcast as they recounted the events of the crucifixion.
One said: "... But we had hoped that he was the one who is going to redeem Israel."
They also told Jesus, not knowing who he was, that the body had since disappeared.
They were perplexed at the events of the past week, and they were sorely disappointed. What they didn't understand yet, was that Jesus did indeed come to redeem Israel.
He would redeem not only Israel, but all who would ever come to believe in him. Christ didn't die and rise again to redeem them from Roman occupation.
Christ died to redeem us from hell. All he asks is that we believe. The thoughts of Jesus' followers tended toward earthly things. We, too, are interested in our daily lives. Our families, careers, health issues, home repairs, etc. occupy a lot of our thoughts and require most of our energy.
That's normal. However, as Christians, we are to focus on the eternal beyond the temporary. When the disciples' eyes were finally open to the truth of the resurrection, there was no stopping them. The resurrection changed their focus, changed their lives and it changed history.
In the dark hours of our lives, within the confusion, and pain, and disappointment, we can find hope and faith to sustain us. We can look beyond the temporal and know that this life is not all there is, and there is a God in heaven who beckons us. The God of the mountain top is the God of the valley.
May our eyes open to the truth like the early disciples, so that we, too, can live our daily lives in the hope and promise that is the resurrection.
"On Faith" is a weekly column in the News-Chronicle written by area religious leaders.