Sunday, April 8, 2012
A rosy seam of sunrise pierced the horizon outside my hospital room window this morning, rising and warming the earth in the way I dream it did that first Easter morning of the Empty Tomb. Last night was dark and suffocating, working hard to inhale with a wheeze and exhale with a rumble, so tired and frustrated and discouraged, and thinking how easy it would be to just stop... but I kept hearing a gentle Master say, "Hang on 'til the morning..." I wonder how many of his friends he had to whisper that to on that first Saturday night, before the morning of the Empty Tomb, before hope rose again on a pink thread of dawn.
"There is hope beyond the suffering, joy beyond the tears,
peace in every tragedy, and love that conquers fear.
For I have found redemption in the blood of Christ.
My body might be dying, but I'll always be alive..."
With this morning came a small group of friends and family - my beloved gospel community - who surrounded my bed at that eastern-facing window and together we worshipped and prayed to our risen Savior.
"Oh death, where is your sting?
Oh hell, where is your victory?
Oh church, come stand in the light -
Our God is not dead, He's alive! He's alive!"
And suddenly the priority for this day became a matter of not just survival, but of praise and glory to God. If ever my body was a weak and broken vessel, it was today, and I begged for God's strength to be made perfect. The great gift I received in response was the number of ministers he placed around me all day to make that happen.
"Connie, what does it mean that the joy of the Lord is our strength?" It was given as a challenge for me to speak Truth, so I wheezed and replied: "My strength is from the Lord, and wells up as I delight in the things that delight his heart." The earnest response was: "He delights in this... He delights in you."
This evening came and brought more friends and family - more of my beloved gospel community - who surrounded me again and worshipped and prayed again.
"High King of heaven, my victory won,
May I reach heaven's joys, O bright heav'ns Son!
Heart of my own heart, whatever befall,
Still be my vision, O ruler of all."
"Two things You told me:
That You are strong and You love me,
Yes, You love me
Your love is strong..."
Lifting voices, singing truth and declaring commitment and submission... these things gave me strength today, and I felt the power of the gospel - salvation, forgiveness, redemption, and freedom - restore joy and health and life to me. This sterile hospital room, with its noises and machines, became holy ground.