Not so fast…

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failure

Scripture: Matthew 27:45 From noon on, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. 46 And about three o’clock Jesus cried with a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” 47 When some of the bystanders heard it, they said, “This man is calling for Elijah.” 48 At once one of them ran and got a sponge, filled it with sour wine, put it on a stick, and gave it to him to drink. 49 But the others said, “Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to save him.” 50 Then Jesus cried again with a loud voice and breathed his last.

Observation: Such a poignant moment in the gospel of Matthew. I especially noticed, “darkness came over the whole land…”, from v.45. It’s as if creation itself was in protest as the sun refused to shine for a few hours. Also brings to mind John 1:5 “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.” Well, at this moment in the story it seemed that “the light of all people” had indeed been extinguished. I wonder what it must have been like to be one of Jesus’ original disciples who witnessed this gruesome event. I wonder if they thought, somehow, Jesus was going to escape. Surely God the Father would rescue his son. But he didn’t. Their greatest fears came true. Jesus was dead. Game over. But it wasn’t over…

Application: I’ve had some pretty substantial disappointments over the years. Among the greatest was hearing that the church I’d helped to plant in San Antonio was disbanding. We started the church in 2001 and organized as a congregation in 2005. I left for North Carolina in 2007 and by the end of 2010 the church was done. I remember thinking, “How could this happen? The church was in great shape when I left, how did things go so wrong?” I blamed myself. I blamed God. I was hurt and angry. It’s sort of like hearing your baby is dead.

Yet this week I got a phone call from one of the key leaders from that congregation who still lives in San Antonio. He was telling me of some things the Lord has been doing in his life, things that began years ago in our now disbanded church. And as we got to talking about others from that church, we were astonished to consider how many leaders emerged from that ministry to start their own ministries, or step into key leadership elsewhere. A few even became pastors in their own right. The list just went on and on. I literally wept in my car as we talked together (via bluetooth!).

What appeared to me to be the end was not the end at all. 

I think sometimes I’m too quick to hang “failure” on things when they don’t turn out as I expect. It can certainly feel like failure at the time, but it’s not the end. It’s just the cross. It’s as Jesus said, 24 Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. (John 12:24)

Prayer: Lord Jesus, give me grace to endure the cross experiences of life. Help me to see where you are at work, that I might not lose hope. I ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

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