Thursday, March 26, 2015

You Should Have Rejoiced For Me

You have heard Me tell you, 'I am going away and I am coming to you.' If you loved Me, you would have rejoiced that I am going to the Father, because the Father is greater than I.  (John 15:28)
Jesus was about to be crucified, "I am going away." He would then be buried and, on the third day, rise from the grave, "I am coming to you."  Then, forty days later, He would ascend into heaven to return to the Father, "If you loved Me, you would have rejoiced that I am going to the Father,". All of this was God's plan for His glory in the redemption of sinners. He had never preached any other Gospel. He had never followed any other path. The disciples had never been led by Him to expect any other reality. Though they claimed to love Him, they could not rejoice in His leaving.
By returning to the Father, He would return to the glory He had left behind when He took on flesh. By returning to the Father, He would leave all His suffering behind, fully accomplished. By returning to the Father, He would live to intercede for them and all believers. By returning to the Father, He would make way for the coming of the Holy Spirit who would fulfill every promise of the Gospel in the life of every believer. Still, even though they claimed to love Him, they could not rejoice in His leaving.
These thoughts are on my mind as I prepare for the next two Sundays - Palm and Easter. They are on my mind as I think and pray about a friend who is dying, another who has serious cancer, a family who has lost a teenage son tragically, a friend whose good friend died young and suddenly. This conversation of Jesus is on my mind as I ask Him how to serve Him and all these people affected by all these things, how to glorify Him and His truth while comforting those who need to find His joy. His words are on my mind even as I think about my own mortality and the sudden, unwelcome guest we call Death.
I claim to love Him, yet I find it hard to rejoice when a friend leaves to go and do His will. I claim to love Him, yet I struggle to rejoice in the distance between myself and loved ones, even when they stay to do His will. I say I love Him, but sometimes grieve as those who have no hope. I say I love Him, but do I trust Him? Do I trust that He is sovereign, that He makes all things work together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purposes? 
He has never lied to us. He never once said this life would be easy. He never promised to keep all our loved ones and friends alive so we could go first. He did not command us to stay, but to go. He never promised to design life around us (what a petty existence that would be). He did promise that He has a plan, a purpose, and the person of the Holy Spirit to carry it out. And, He promised fullness of joy for all who do love Him, proven in their trust of Him?
So, I pray, "Sovereign God, Savior, Author and Finisher of our faith, fill our hearts with true love for You and Your will, whatever it may be, so that we may rejoice with fullness of joy. May Your joy enflame our witness of the Gospel of Your Son. Strengthen us in this life with the eternal hope of the next. And, Lord, knowing that Your Son will return and make all things new, I ask, Come quickly, Lord!"