Tuesday, April 10, 2012

From Disbelief to Acceptance

Now when he rose early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, from whom he had cast out seven demons. She went and told those who had been with him, as they mourned and wept. But when they heard that he was alive and had been seen by her, they would not believe it.
After these things he appeared in another form to two of them, as they were walking into the country. And they went back and told the rest, but they did not believe them.
Afterward he appeared to the eleven themselves as they were reclining at table, and he rebuked them for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they had not believed those who saw him after he had risen. And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up serpents with their hands; and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.”
So then the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God. And they went out and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by accompanying signs. Mark 16:9-20

I spent my early morning hours at the physical therapy center. My Mom, after knee replacement years ago, referred to physical therapy as torture and to her therapists as her torturers. I get how she feels. It is enormous work to come back after surgery, to get beyond the pain and the physical limitations and progress until one is able to fully function again. It is a whole other thing to believe and trust you are going to really get there. Lying on the PT table this morning, I thought of Jesus, and had a moment of jealousy that he didn't have to do any therapy to come back from the dead. And sometimes, this post surgery thing does feel like struggling back from being dead - or at least completely out of the picture.

Jesus was resurrected miraculously and completely and it stunned his followers and they struggled with disbelief. They took their time and needed to exercise their hearts and minds in order to accept the unbelievable, the impossible, the incredible love of God in action for the healing of the world. We humans take time to recover, and it also takes us time to wrap our hearts and minds around the totality of love so bold and so generous that would overcome violence and death to restore love and right relationships everywhere. It takes us time to internalize our faith, to teach our muscles and our beings to live a life of grace. Those nearest and dearest to Jesus and his resurrection took their time to take it all in. And God promises to be with us as we take it all in and build up the strength and faith to live day by day in the spirit of God's love.

Today, I ask God for patience with myself and for others. May we be patient as our faith and capacity grows. May we be patient and forgiving of the set backs and mistakes we make. May we forgive ourselves and others when old habits return, when we sink into despair and disbelief, and when we are overcome by doubt. God has promised to be with us and empower us every step of the way. Even when we misstep and are weak, even when we stumble and fall down. May God give us the grace to live a life of love and grace, full of forgiveness and patience, so that the world might know that God is with us and has conquered all, even death itself for our sakes.

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