Friday, March 25, 2016

Good Friday Reflections...

Since the New Year, blogging has definitely been relegated to the back burner as I stepped full-time into the role of Compassion Canada's Ministry Relations Representative for the Greater Toronto Area.

It's Good Friday today and I'm thinking that one way to reflect on this day and why it is called good is to blog my reflections.

It is called good because... "'Tis mercy all, immense and free; for, O my God, it found out me!"

Salvation, yes. But, in His most loving and extravagant way, our God doesn't stop there. He pursues. Relentlessly pursues. Wildly pursues. All because He wants that abundant life for us.

The other day I had an epiphany. I said to hubby, "I think I remember now the first time my heart broke for the things that break God's."

He and I just started dating. Exactly 25 years ago now. I was back in the Philippines for the summer and we found ourselves as part of a church visitation team. We were assigned to visit this man and his family. Because it was still the pre-Instagram days, I don't have a photo... but the image is still vivid in my mind.

I don't remember the man's name or even what he looks like, but I remember very vividly what his home looked like. Much like this one, our Compassion daughter Florianlyn's home.

Even though I grew up in the Philippines, up until that point in time, I've never been inside a "shanty" before. It broke me. I remember not being able to sleep well that night and feeling utterly broken the days that followed.

Then I came home to Canada.

And promptly forgot about that jarring experience.

My Heavenly Father... He was showing me that He's called His followers to so much more, that there's this abundant life to live, yet I chose the mediocre life --- content to have just my salvation.

I am deeply grateful that He is patient and didn't give up on hubby and me and our family.

Life took over and 15+ more years would pass before we were jolted out of living the mediocre life.

It has been a beautiful journey of discovering this abundant life that God calls each and every one of His followers to live.

It took travelling around the globe visiting our Compassion children for us to be wrecked and broken again and again and again.

Like a full-circle moment, even though I didn't realize it then... God brought me back to that place where, as a 20-year-old young woman, my heart first broke for the things that break His. 

It was back there in the broken places where our family together heeded the call to embrace the abundant life.

On this Good Friday, I am reminded yet again that God is still in the business of redeeming brokenness. This is why this day is called good.

Broken me, redeemed. You, too.

'Tis mercy all, immense and free; for, O my God, it found out me!

On that cross, Jesus said, "It is finished." 

I am deeply grateful that, on that cross, Jesus already redeemed everything. All He asks us, His followers, to do is to live it out... to live each and every day as redeemed people, as People of the Cross.

To live the life of true fasting...
... if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday. The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.
Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins and will raise up the age-old foundations; you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls, Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.
This abundant life... it's not an easy one to live. In fact, it's excruciatingly hard... with heartache, tears and lament. Sometimes, I just want to go back to that time when I didn't know better...

But, I don't... and I soldier on. Because we all only have this one life to live and it would be a shame to choose comfort and to coast through it with mediocrity. 

May this be our prayer, not just on this Good Friday, but always:
God, we thank You for being near in a world filled with selfish ambition, where too often our tendency is to turn inward and contemplate our own desires despite the suffering that surrounds us. We live surrounded by a wealth that defies the imagination of our poorer brothers and sisters, yet we live with the fear that we will never have enough. Expand our hearts, Lord, that we may learn to truly love.

May we put our hand to the plow and work as those who have a higher calling. In the days that come, Lord, reveal to us new patterns of living where our spiritual lives and work lives become an integrated whole. May all that we do be worship to You.
We acknowledge that out of the ashes of our lives You are bringing shalom. We believe You are calling us to be a part of Your shalom work in our own cities and across the globe. We ask You to lead us and guide us. We are called to be Your hands and feet. As representatives of Christ we believe we should carry Your message of love and grace into the dark places You came to restore, the places where disease and illness plague people. Lord, do not allow us to seek safe havens, to hide the news of Your gospel; instead, call us out so that Your Good News will be evident to all.
- Chris Seay, A Place at the Table.