After 30 years of Good Friday services, it can be easy not to feel the weight of the day. It can be easy to get into a routine and simply participate...knowing that was a pivotal day in history (pivotal is an understatement...I know) that should deeply affect my every breath...and yet it's easy to simply participate. Sing the songs about the cross. Hear the story retold. Know it's good. And yet feel nothing.
I wish I could say that wasn't true. I wish I could say that grief overwhelmed me on this day. I wish I could say I fell to my knees in sorrow. I wish I could say my every breath was spent praising Jesus for the ridiculously amazing act of love he showed the world on this day.
There are people in my life who live this way and it is beautiful. There truly is no more beautiful sight than seeing someone worship their King. (Oh you know you've peeked around the room during musical worship time. Don't pretend you haven't.) The faces of those in heartfelt worship are BEAUTIFUL!!
And yet Good Friday can come and go like any other day. We can walk away and never be changed.
But my life has been changed. I have a God who loves me enough to send his Son to this world. To leave the perfection of heaven and come to this broken, fallen world. To live a perfectly sinless life. To be brutally murdered at the hands of sinful men. To take on all of my sin. And yours. To take it as his own, even though he was sinless. And not only face death, but to take the wrath that went along with all of it. To have His Father turn away. To be forsaken. All so that I might be forgiven and set free from the burden of sin and death. So that I can have eternal life. So that I can be free from condemnation. So that I can know fullness of joy.
What was a devastating Friday for Jesus was a Good Friday for me.
So why this year? Why such an impact? Why does it feel so real and deep and painful this year?
I don't know. Maybe it was our pastor's presentation of Old Testament prophecy with New Testament reality. (I don't think I've ever heard them side by side like that before.) Maybe it was the songs about the Cross. (I've realized that every time a "favorite" song comes on iTunes, it's about the cross.) Maybe it was dipping our fingers in red paint and putting our mark on the cross. (It's as close to participating in His death as I have done before.) I don't know what it was, but it was powerful.
2,000 years ago, I participated in Jesus' death. I maybe wasn't there physically, but my sin was there. And it was paid for. I am eternally grateful for the great sacrifice that Jesus made that day. The Lamb of God. Slain for the World. The ultimate sacrifice.
For those of you who did the poll on my home page, I thought it was probably about time to tell you the correct answer and put up a new poll...just for the fun of it. So the question was:
"How did I earn my first paycheck?"
a. Teaching Swimming Lessons
b. Cleaning the Church
c. Working at Hallmark
d. At a Recording Studio
The correct answer is D! My sisters and I were fortunate to get connected to a recording studio through some friends of ours. We would go for a whole Saturday and record tracks for things like sunday school albums, jingles, etc. I don't remember a lot of the specific things we did, but here is what I did learn.
Looking back, I feel like I did recordings every week for years, but I'm sure that's just a childlike misconception. I probably did it a whole 5 times in a year, but it stood out as so unique that it felt like a big part of my life. I may not have been the next pop star, but it was still a pretty sweet record
Bills don't come in the mail. They come to the door in human form. You never know when they'll arrive and sometimes you won't see them for months. And then they hit you at once. You see, the man shows up whenever he feels like it. If you aren't home, he might try again or he might just wait until the next month and hit you with two bills.
We've been in our new place almost a month, so I wasn't entirely surprised when the man showed up. But we had to pay three bills. We found that odd. But being the good Americans we are, we didn't question it and just paid the 201 LE (about $30).
The door had barely shut and I started to look at the bills to see what months we had just paid for. While it's all in Arabic and it would take me quite a bit of time to read it and even more time to understand, I can recognize dates and numbers fairly quickly.
What? That can't be right.
I thought I knew my numbers.
Yes. We just paid the bills for August, September, and October of 2011.
Dear Mr. Landlord. I think our rent will be 201 LE cheaper next month.
I would say we should expect to pay Nov 2011 next month, but that would make too much sense.
This country makes me laugh!
So not even 6 hours after my last post, God decided to show off.
Over the last couple months, God has been surrounding me with a fantastic community of expats...all Americans...and most from the midwest. (Talk about making a girl feel at home!) Although we all differ on sports teams (Twins vs. Yankees...Vikings vs. Packers vs. Lions), we share the bonds of Jesus, games, sarcasm, and being expats in a foreign country.
With any new friendships, it's hard to always know when you've turned "that" corner. You know...the one where you're not just acquaintances that say hi or do the group dinner thing...or even when you're not just the friends that do large group activities...but that you've rounded that corner where you feel like you can completely be yourself (no matter how ridiculous that may be) and you'll be completely accepted and probably even more accepted because of your ridiculousness?
Tonight, God showed me that corner had been turned. And I loved it! What started as a few funny tweets back and forth turned into a round robin "create your own adventure" bedtime story via twitter. It was absolute nonsense, but I couldn't help but smile as I felt God saying, "See...you're going to be okay. I know what you need and when you need it...friends included."
It is bittersweet to think that four of those friends are leaving at the end of this school year, but know that those friendships will continue and that God will bring new friends at just the right time. He's good like that.
Praise God from whom all blessings flow...
I will never understand why people who speak English well (at least that's what i'm told) won't even say a word to me. We can be standing in a room together in the same group and "hello" isn't even uttered. I actually thought this person didn't speak any English because of her interaction (or lack thereof) with me. Although, even those people will usually still say "Sabah el Khier" to me. I was shocked to find out that this person speaks English well.
I understand what it's like to feel unconfident with a second language. I mean, come on. It takes me a minute or two to come up with one basic sentence. And let's face it...most conversations people are having don't have space for "You have a blue table." So I get it. If you aren't confident, it's way easier to stay silent. No one likes looking stupid. No blame there!
It's easy to be offended and feel like I'm not good enough or have done something wrong to deserve this treatment. I can complain and boohoo pretty quickly.
And then I hear this still small voice. "What if she's shy? You could just as easily attempt to speak your few words of Arabic. Or at least initiate an English conversation. You can't be offended if you haven't tried either."
I guess it's time to put my identity and confidence back in The Lord...where it should have been all along. Don't you love having a God who speaks gently? Guiding you back to where He wants you? I may not be the fastest learner, but he's patient and I love that!
I have the privilege of having a job that directly impacts peoples lives. It's amazing. Honestly, though, it's easy to forget that. It's easy to get so wrapped up in the to do lists, deadlines, and expectations. It's easy to focus on tasks and simply get things crossed off the list. It's hard to remember that it's people we're serving. It's hard to remember that it's lives we're affecting. And then I sit through a church service about mercy and care and watch this video and it all comes back into focus. Jesus is cool like that.
a simple girl on a