Just as the rain and snow come down from heaven,
and do not return to it without watering the earth
-making it bud and flourish-
so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
So is my word that goes out from my mouth
-it will not return to me empty-
but will accomplish what I desire,
and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.
So often the words of the Bible and the message of Easter- that Jesus has once and for all bought our freedom and given us the opportunity to live in fellowship with the Lord- fall on deaf ears. They can seem distant, detached, and rehearsed. The message feels more like a reminder of something that happened instead of a call for us to engage in what is happening. But I believe that right now, today, no matter where we are or where we have been- we are given an invitation to take an active role in the resurrection of Christ. This is not a time for passive reflection (Lent - Good Friday is a great opportunity for some designated remembrance), it's a chance for us to take advantage of the new life that Jesus has given us- Life to the fullest.
We were all created with a heart that's filled with desire- desire for things we may not be able to fully grasp or categorize. We all have the desire for community, love, success, purpose... God knit them into the corners of our hearts and Jesus promises us a life that can fulfill - not ignore or eliminate- each and every one of them. An intimate life with the Lord is not dependent upon our ability, or willingness, to sacrifice all of the things we love and hope for- it is to give God the opportunity to fill our desires His way- according to his perfect plan for us- a plan for each of us to live our lives to the fullest.
John Eldredge writes in his (awesome) book, Desire, about Jesus's reaction to the lifestyle that was accepted by (or forced onto) the people he encountered. They were expected to live according to duty, not desire, and adhere to the expectations of society. Knowledge and religious piety trumped experience and emotion. People-from the lowest servants to the highest priests- had simply accepted that there was no place for their intimate desires in this world. Not according to Jesus.
"To the weary, Jesus speaks of rest. To the lost, he speaks of finding your way. Again and again Jesus takes people back to their desires. 'Ask and it will be given to you. Seek and you will find. Knock and the door will be opened for you'(Matt.7:7). Ask, Seek, Knock...these are outrageous words, provocative words, that invite and arouse desire. What is it you want? Jesus provokes desire; he awakens it; he heightens it. The religious watch-dogs accuse him of heresy. 'Not at all', he says, "this is the invitation God has been sending us all along'. (Eldredge, Desire, 37-38).
Easter is God's invitation, embodied. Put into human terms. Attainable to all of us. It's not a time for us to simply acknowledge what has already been done. Easter is an invitation for us to do something about it. Every day we have the opportunity to choose life. This was the message at church this morning. Every word, every minute, every dollar we are given is another opportunity for us to choose life- choose community, choose love, choose success, and choose purpose- to choose to give God the opportunity to fulfill our heart's deepest desires. Ask the hard things that we've been afraid to ask, seek the reward and the life that is promised, knock on the door of opportunities we never dreamed were there. Everyone's invited to...
what if we all actually did?