It began nearly six weeks ago now...
The last few years as we have approached "Easter", Duane's information on its historical roots would haunt me. Despite this, I continued resisting letting go of this tradition as it had always been such a rich, family and spiritual time for me growing up. It represented the death of our Saviour Jesus Christ willingly on the cross and his blessed resurrection for the sake of our souls. It meant family gatherings, feasts, solemn moments of silence as we dared to imagine our Lord's final moments. Surely something that has touched me so deeply cannot be bad??
For me, it was because it felt like I had to let go of something that felt so true, so beautiful and secure... it felt like dangling in the midst of nothingness... to doubt for a mere moment... enough to shake me up and not know what was safe to grasp hold of anymore, if anything!
And these words returned to me like a slow drumming chant in the background: discern, discern, discern.
"But what do you mean by that, Father?" I prayed fervently one day.
The answer I felt stir deep within my soul resonated with the following message:
"Be equipped with the knowledge of my Word to know what is of man versus what is of Me. For those who love Me but who do not know my Truth will be the greatest targets of deception. Their very love for me will be what is used against them if they follow blindly. But those who hear my words, and know they come from Me, and choose to obey will know my appointed times and their messages contained therein. Their faith will be revealed through their obedience."
First step for me in hearing/feeling such a response is to do exactly what preceded it... DISCERN. Could this truly come from God? Or are these my own words? Does it align with scripture? Or am I being deceived by my very faith?
I tell you there is not enough time in a day to swallow scriptures and devour it with such ravenous appetite! Thankfully, the few times I could delve into it, it felt as though the very passages I needed to find were revealed to me and the very path I had been resisting was becoming more and more clear.
I wept. I ached. I mourned what I have known my whole life.
Feeling like a newborn babe, I studied what was fast approaching and beckoning me like a long lost friend... PASSOVER.
The layers of the story hit me so profoundly this year that it literally pulled me down to my knees in sheer humility of His incredible perfection! Beginning with the mass Exodus of God's people enslaved in Egypt thanks to the willing heart of Moses and the love of our God... the blood of the lamb marking the doorposts of His people and sparring their lives when the angel of death passed over Egypt... the commandment of this event now being one of His appointed times... the lamb that is to be brought into the homes four days before passover inspected to be perfect and without blemish, to fall in love with the innocence and to cringe at the very notion of something so perfect being destined to be slain BECAUSE of our sins! Sure makes you not ever want to sin again! Centuries to follow, the mass of Hebrews bringing their precious lamb to the altar at the temple to begin the slaughtering at 9:00 a.m. on passover... a day filled with the shedding of blood... the sheer solemnity of it, the weight of the burden of knowing something so innocent suffers at your hand! The high priest saving the last lamb to represent all of Israel to be slaughtered at 3:00 pm where he then spreads his hands for the mass of people to see as he exclaims "IT IS FINISHED!"
This is what was commanded... each of these steps. And not until the coming of Christ, but for all time.
Centuries later, our precious Jesus came into Israel four days before passover where he was tested, prodded and Pontius Pilot himself "found no fault in this man." He was flawless... just like the passover lambs.
And then he was placed on the cross at 9:00 a.m. as the lambs were being sacrificed at the Temple and at 3:00 pm, he expired on the cross at the same moment that the lamb for israel was slain. But not without first proclaiming "IT IS FINISHED!"
Even as I type this, the tears are flowing amply down my face. I share with you the sheer weight of this humility of this shame and yet this victory on behalf of our Saviour. Oh how much He must love us! And why? Do you look in the mirror as I do and see the very faults that caused him to be nailed to that cross in the first place? I weep because I dare not fathom WHY He loves me so... why He loves us all so much!
But praise God almighty that He does!
Perhaps it is worth loving one another, too? Perhaps it should make the task effortless given the weight of the message that He, our very Creator, the one who knows the very thoughts we keep from others, believed us to be precious and worth saving.
Well I tell you, it was with great fervour that I embraced Passover this year. I felt united as a family (at long last) as Duane and I surrendered to the process of clearing our home of leaven (yeast) and meal planning for a week of unleavened bread to follow suit. And as I surrendered our home to the process of being cleansed, my every day task was focused on Him... it was beautiful! To my surprise, that unity extended far beyond our front door as I imagined the thousands upon thousands of homes around the globe sharing in this very task... a unity with which I cannot even describe!
There were two Sabbaths to mark both the beginning and the end of that week and First Fruits to fall therein as well. Which was another greatly humbling realization...
Jesus rose from the dead at First Fruits... another of God's appointed Times. "The first portion of the harvest that belongs to God."
Do you see why our family has come to believe that these Appointed Times were indeed created "for all time" by an unchanging God? For those in the world not observing them, the sheer weight and significance of Christ's death would have just been another guy dying on the cross. But God ensured that the message of our salvation be declared repeatedly through the institution of Passover as means for us to recognize it... first freed from Egypt and now freed from eternal separation from Him because of Sin.
Oh my dear beloved friends... I know I must sound crazy to you, but I wish I could give you my heart and the very transformation that has happened as I truly desired to seek God's eternal words! How He must love us that He wants us to "rehearse" these appointed times as though saying to us "If you observe these, you will be equipped to recognize significant world events... and you will be prepared!"
His love continues to astound me.
Would you believe that I have felt greatly rewarded by this surrender? For six weeks I have had a newfound energy and my home has never been so consistently organized and cleaned! A joy has budded along with Spring and the first fruits of this energy has given me life beyond my wildest imagination (and that's saying a lot!).
Do you recall a few entries past when I professed my tendency to hoard? Soon after that, in preparation for Passover, I began a "mass exodus" of clutter and have given away, thrown away large quantities of... well... crap! What liberation! And the process has been continuing.
So I come to you this morning with the grandeur of this personal event in my life knowing that some of you may think I am crazy, some of you may even be angry (and that's okay! I was there, too!), and some of you may just ask yourselves if there truly is something more here. Regardless of what this leaves you with, I offer it to you simply as my own humble process... a journey that is life-long and never-ending... and for my blessed family who may be wondering why I am not the same as I once was, may this bring you peace in knowing I love you from the bottom of my heart and that I feel so blessed that we can rejoice at the journeys each of us lives.
I am humbly your servant, your daughter, your sister, your friend... an honour I thank God for every day. God bless you all out there and may you feel His love for you today more than ever. And perhaps for the first time in a long time (or maybe even ever), you can believe that you DESERVE joy, peace, and love!