From Mist to Midst

“Now no shrub of the field was yet in the earth, and no plant of the field had yet sprouted, for the LORD God had not sent rain upon the earth, and there was no man to cultivate the ground.

But a mist used to rise from the earth and water the whole surface of the ground. Then… God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being… God planted a garden toward the east, in Eden; and there He placed the man whom He had formed.” (Genesis 2:5-8)

From a place where mist used to rise, in a garden,

God created the first human person.

Mists are mysterious.  They mystify.  Scripture says that we’re born into a beautiful garden, shrouded in the mysteries of life.

Salvation history began at this moment, and continues on to today.  But today, we celebrate the Easter season, and our Savior is risen and in our midst.

How did we get from mist to midst?

Our walk with God has been a complicated one.  With freedom, we’ve fallen from grace.  We’ve toiled and worked in the gardens of our lives, and struggled through sin, suffering, loss and even death.

Death.  That’s the “d” that splits the word mist.

These things, especially the finality of death, remain mysterious and dreadful realities, unless we truly rejoice in what we’re celebrating these days.

Does Jesus’ death split the mist in your life?  

Can His Presence in your midst make sense of all your suffering?

Mary Magdalene’s in a “mist”- a mist of tears and of confusion.  She’s in the mist of the early morning hours after being up all night weeping.

Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” Supposing Him to be the gardener, she said to Him, “Sir, if you have carried Him away, tell me where you have laid Him, and I will take Him away.”  (John 20:15)

Here we are back in a garden. It’s not until the “Gardener” calls her name, that all the mist evaporates.

 He’s in our midst.

 And His death has separated all the confusion. His death has breathed life back into the human person.

“Was it not necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and to enter into His glory?” (Luke 24:26)

Notice He doesn’t take the “d” word away.  In fact it seems to be the only way!

If we do not know the necessity of dying with Christ as the mysterious reality of a life of faith, we can never really know the beauty of His Presence, risen and in our midst.

Let His death defy the MIST-ery.

Let His death make all things clear.  Our Savior rises in glory and He lives, so we can too.

The Gardener calls your name in your MIDST.

The Other Side of Ashes

It will be smeared on my forehead this Wednesday.

 That messy ash. That smudge to mark me.  As a follower of Christ.

Not to mention- it means the start of Lent.  The penance, the pruning, the picking up of crosses.

 All to be a follower of Christ.

Ashes there to remind me.  I’ll return to the dust.  This side of life is short. Better hope the smudge wears off before too many see.

I have to admit to being fooled into thinking that real beauty is only what is pleasing to the senses and  what looks good on the outside right now.  And not that those aren’t wonderful and good things:  The smell of a rose.  The sight of a beautiful face.  The mysterious landscape in a painting.

But sometimes life is messy.  And circumstances repulsive to me.  I don’t move toward them but run away…even from myself.  I don’t see beauty on my face  at all- just smudged on ashes on my face.  Just me returning to dust.

But I’ve also lived through too many Lents now.  I know how this works out.  I’ve seen those black ashes can become beauty….that smudge become my path to glory.

And it’s worth the work to push on through to the other side of ashes.

What’s on the other side of ashes?  Resurrection. Glory. Beauty. And Light. There’s only one way to do the work of black ashes into beauty.  Mostly I don’t “work” at all.  Surrender is the key….surrendering that mess to the One who came to transform it.

 Do I believe He can love me enough this year, to meet me here in ashes?

I do.  That’s what we say at a wedding.  I do believe He loves me.  I do believe He can transform this lowly body into a glorified one. (Phillipians 3:21)  I do believe He can take me to the other side of ashes.

40 Days will bring me there.  I wonder what He has in store for me this year.

 I wonder what the smudge will teach me- about Him, about myself and about others.

But more than anything else, I’ll wonder about the other side of ashes.

 Where I’ll see Him, me, everyone, and everything in radiant beauty and glory.

See you on the other side.