First United Methodist Church, Lewistown, PA 17044  ~  717-248-4618   ~  fumc200@outlook.com

When it seemed all hope was gone.

March 25, 2016

    I think it was about mile 10 of the "Rock n Roll" half marathon in DC a few years back that my mind started to imagine a very high concrete block wall looming in front of me. My legs were weary, both knees didn't feel too happy, and I needed help. I pleaded for some grace!  As I ran alonside Kayt, we decended a slight hill and were met with 'thee' most raucous, loud, energizing garbage can band I have ever encountered. I mean these folks were pounding this entertaining cadence and it felt like I had a 220 volt wire stuck into my brain. Immediately, I lost sight of the wall, the knees smiled, and the help I needed came unexpectedly and without cost.  I borrowed from this band of awesome musicians just what the doctor ordered which was energy to finish the last three miles.

There are still days when I think back to that moment that took a total of 40-50 seconds to unfold but turned my future completely around for that event. Well....

    Today is Black Friday! Put you wallets and purses down; it's not that Black Friday. Today is the day we observe the death of Jesus Christ. The immense suffering and ridicule Jesus endured makes my heart hurt. He received all of the taunts, the spit, the beatings, the scourgings, and all the other abuse. His concrete block wall had been experienced the night before in the Garden of Gethsemane.

          “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” An angel from

          heaven appeared to him and strengthened him." (Luke 22:42-43, NIV)

His help and grace came from God and he embraced His call to obey the Father and die on a cross.

   

    The twist in this Good Friday story is found not so much in Jesus and the crucifixion, but in the thief on the cross. There were two. One hurled the same scathing insults as most of the crowd that day. The other could see the concrete wall looming ahead, his body was waning of strength, and he needed help. Check out the unexpected encounter with grace.

          "Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.’” Jesus answered him, “I tell you

          the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23:42-43, NIV)

This day divides humanity into two groups. There are those who suffer and find it necessary to become broken to a point of failure and lash out in anger. And then, there are those who suffer and know they need help, cry for help, and receive unexpected grace at the point of failure. In which camp do you live? Do you embrace this day as the day of suffering for your eternal joy? Do you shrug this day off as one in history that really doesn't affect you?

    Write this down, there will come a day when the wall looms in front of us, our body won't be happy and we will need help. Turn to the one who conquers walls, makes dead bodies alive, and who brings the help we need.  Borrow the strength you don't have from the one who has strength that never runs out.   PS: We'll encounter blue tomorrow.

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