Wednesday, April 24, 2002

What About the Day After?

It was a day of egg salad sandwiches, deviled eggs, leftover ham, candy wrappers, storing the baskets back in the attic, changing the decorations in church sanctuaries and going back to whatever “normal” is supposed to be. Weeks of religious focus in Christian denominations and family preparations reached their climax on Easter day. Most folks pick up the eggshells, pick up the plastic grass and pick up their busy lives where they left off.

But what about Jesus?

For Jesus, Resurrection Day was just the BEGINNING, not the end. With a twinkle in His eye He greeted the women outside the tomb. “Surprise!” He seemed to say. “I am risen, glorified and more alive now than ever! Only now can I work in your lives as I really desire.”

With a twinkle in His eye He greeted the disciples gathered in a room. “Surprise!”

With a twinkle in His eye He appeared to the disciples again, Thomas now there. “Surprise! Come touch my hands and my side and believe!” He did and they did.

Standing on a beach, with a twinkle in His eye, He gave the disciples a lesson in fishing. Only after their nets were full did they recognize Him and rush to shore. “Surprise!” He seemed to say as He conducted a fish fry.

For forty days He showed up. “Surprise, surprise, surprise!” In unlikely places, at unlikely times, with unlikely words. Defying expectations, warming their souls with His Presence, getting into their hearts and minds with His words.

He led them to a hill, gave them final instructions, and miraculously rose into the heavens. “Surprise!” Who knows how long they stood staring into the sky or what they were thinking. An angel got their attention, (loosely paraphrased), “OK, that’s enough gazing into the clouds. Jesus will come back the same way, but now it’s time to obey.” He will and they did.

Jesus still shows up. With a twinkle in His eye He comes, “Surprise!” In unlikely places, at unlikely times, with unlikely words. Do you see Him? Do you hear Him?

Or are you so busy with cleaning up eggshells that you miss Him?

Ever wondered where Thomas was when Jesus appeared to the other disciples that first time? Maybe it was his fault, or maybe he drew the short straw to go get take out. But He missed Jesus either way. I don’t think His mistake was that he missed Jesus the first time, but that He was so brazen about his unbelief. Oh, but Jesus is so faithful. And so loving. And so caring. And a bit mischievous. He didn’t scold Thomas. He took Thomas at his word. With a twinkle in his eye Jesus invited Thomas to place his fingers in the nail prints and his hand in Jesus’ side wound. “Surprise” He seemed to say. Why? So that Thomas would believe the Resurrection and see Him when He appeared in Thomas’ future.

Jesus will do the same for you, you know. What will it take for you to see Jesus in the moment by moment living of your days? Funny, Thomas never did get around to touching Jesus’ scars. But I doubt that he ever again missed seeing Jesus when He showed up.

Jesus, through His Spirit, His Word and His Body (the people of God) wants to show up in your life. With a twinkle in His eye He’ll surprise you by what He will say and what He will do. If you notice. So put down the egg salad sandwiches and the vacuum for a while. If you need to touch the nail prints, tell Him. He’ll let you. He wants you to see Him more than you want to. Watch and listen and experience the Presence of Him, the Resurrected One, who offers life.

"And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever-- 17 the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. 18 I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 19 Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live." John 14:16-19 (NIV)

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