By Mary Etta Copeland
Based on Mark 8:31-38.
As we continue our journey through Lent, we find the words of Jesus just as meaningful today as to the early disciples 2,000 years ago. Like those in Christ’s inner circle how easy it becomes for us to interpret words and teachings according to our own likings, making God’s message say what we want it to say! And in our own self-righteousness, do we ever find ourselves looking judgmentally at the audacity of Peter rebuking Jesus…failing to recognize that this action is repeated as we fail to follow God’s will and calling on our own lives? Recognizing the powerful message as our Lord called Peter “Satan,” do we also see the possibility of our actions putting us in position for Christ to label us likewise?
In our 21st century living, are we putting the things of God first in our lives, trusting even when understanding may be lacking; or are the important aspects of our living those of the world? Are we failing to answer “yes” to God’s call on our lives in our ministries? Could there be areas in which we deny the Lordship of God in our lives, such as in material possessions, our use of time, our relationships, our decisions, our commitments?
We’re told if we lose our lives we will save them, while trying to save them brings loss. Sound paradoxical? Maybe, but how incredible to experience life when we make this illogical choice.
As Christians, we need to consistently be open to the voice of God in the myriad of ways communication may come. Early one morning, traveling the interstate, I saw a most unusual sight. In the eastern sky, rows of billowing clouds like ocean waves, pink from the rising sun, began forming with activity so forceful I pulled over to take a picture just before its fading, thinking perhaps this was Christ’s return! The finale was a clearly formed cross, and as I shared this later while preparing for our Christmas service, all were in agreement of its message. The rest of the story: three hours later our son-in-law was lying on the ground, fallen from the ladder while hanging Christmas lights, and suffering multiple broken bones and other injuries. In preparation for facing this, God had spoken through a moving picture, communicating through a visible cross that “I am in the world and all is, and will be, well!”
Recently, I broke my arm. While running errands, I entered a Wal-Mart with my fractured arm in a sling. The words from a very young greeter were, “I’m praying that arm will be better every day,” bringing a huge look of surprise on my face. As we later thanked him, he held out the cross that was hanging around his neck and stated simply, “That’s what I do!”
As Christians, in humble yet bold confidence, may what we do reflect to a world needing assurance of God’s living presence the words of the cross and the reality of a loving, risen Savior!
This post is part of a Lenten series. To read other posts in the series, click on the word “Lent” in the list on the right, under “Find Posts About….”
An American Baptist for nearly seven decades, Mary Etta has served with her pastor husband Richard at De Soto Baptist Church in De Soto, Kansas, for 48 years. In addition to serving as president of AB Women’s Ministries of the Central Region, she’s also in her 48th year teaching Choral Music at the high school level. Her passion is in leading women’s retreats, especially on the subjects of prayer and spiritual gifts.