What’s in a Name?

When Mary Magdalene went to the tomb to anoint Christ’s body, she was filled with grief and frustration. She arrived at the tomb at first light, but it was empty. Jesus was gone. The others went home disappointed, but Mary lingered, longing to know what had happened to the body of her beloved Lord.

But Mary was standing outside the tomb weeping; and so, as she wept, she stooped and looked into the tomb;  and she saw two angels in white sitting, one at the head and one at the feet, where the body of Jesus had been lying. And they said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him.”  When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, and did not know that it was Jesus.  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.”  Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to Him in Hebrew, “Rabboni!” (which means, Teacher). John 20:11-17 NASB

This passage has always tugged at my heart, but it touched me even more deeply this Lenten Season as I witnessed the power of love in a new light. Mary didn’t recognize Jesus, but that isn’t surprising. None of us see what is right before our eyes, especially if it is something we are not expecting to see.

Henry Cavil, the actor who plays Superman in the new movie, stood in Times Square under a giant advertisement for Superman vs Batman wearing a tee shirt with the Superman logo on the front. His face was in lights above him, but no one recognized him. He was responding to criticism about Superman’s trademark disguise. Critics pointed out that glasses would never be enough to hide Superman’s identity from those around him. The experiment proved superman didn’t even need glasses; he could easily hide in plain sight because people do not see what they are not expecting to see.

Mary asked the man she thought to be a gardener what he had done with the body. He simply said, “Mary!,” and suddenly her world was changed forever.  One of the most powerful moments in the Bible, for me, is when she utters, “Rabboni.” She wanted to embrace Jesus, but He bid her not to come near because He had not yet ascended to His Father. Like Mary, I am beautifully changed when someone speaks my name in love. Being known heals and makes my heart whole. No one knows that better than God, and Mary learned its power that morning at the empty tomb.

The first time my son uttered the syllables “ma ma,” my heart melted into a puddle. The first time my granddaughters called me “Gigi,” my heart went to a new level of love. The children in my granddaughter’s kindergarten class call me “Gigi” when I visit or volunteer, and that fills my heart with joy. They squeal with delight each time they see me at school or out in the community. They act as though it’s been years since they’ve seen me. That delight is what love is all about, and it never gets old.

God delights when He hears His children say His name with love, but His heart is broken when His name is used to justify violence or spread hatred. His greatest desire is to be with us, and to know that we know how much He loves us. When we say His name and the names of those around us in love, His kingdom comes, and His will is done.

A name spoken in love brings joy into the world, and that is what Easter is all about What’s in a name? Everything!!

Happy Easter 🙂

 

 

 

Witnessing a Resurrection

Turtle 2

I witnessed a resurrection today on Topsail Island as I watched six healed turtles released into the sea. They all headed in the same direction, toward the point on their way to the Gulf of Mexico. What an amazing sight it was to behold! I marvel when I think of the way it all happened. I told my little granddaughters that I was going to visit the sick turtles while I was with my sister on South Topsail Island and promised to bring shirts and some toy turtles back to them. When I got to Edie’s, she told me the new hospital wasn’t open. She said she thought I could get some shirts at the Quarter Moon, so we biked down to the gift shop.

The store was closing when we got there, so I quickly grabbed five shirts and asked them to hold them for me until the next day. They didn’t take a credit card, and I didn’t have any cash. We were biking back the following day and noticed the door to the old hospital was open. The turtles were still in there so volunteers were busy at work. I asked if they had any shirts or toy turtles for sale. They told me that the new hospital gift shop was open on Monday and Wednesday for a few hours each day. Edie and I decided to go to the new store and went by the Quarter Moon to tell them I didn’t need the shirts.

The lady in front of me was getting a smoothie and telling the woman behind the counter that she was heading out and would smell great when she got back. My sister and I laughed at her remark, and she told us that she was a turtle hospital volunteer. She told us there was going to be a release. We were beside ourselves. It’s very rare to see a release, and Edie had always wanted to witness one. Unfortunately, she had to have carpal tunnel surgery in Chapel Hill today so she didn’t get to see the sweet miracle.

All of the turtles did the same thing as they were brought down to the sea, they flapped their legs as if they were flying. Their excitement was contagious, and the crowd cheered them on as they made their way down the beach. Each turtle had a beautiful resurrection, and I thank God for allowing me to witness each. God has a resurrection in mind for all His children, and He gives us the same joy and excitement I saw in those amazing turtles today.  The turtles have a very unique GPS that allows them to navigate the globe, and I’ve got the Holy Spirit to help me do the same.

There just aren’t words that describe the sweet feeling of freedom I saw in those majestic creatures today. We all are looking to be released so we can go where we know we belong. God taught me a beautiful lesson today with the help of six turtles and the folks at Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Hospital. There is such great work being done by the folks who work there.  As I watched them working so diligently to get the turtles back into the water, I realized the turtles weren’t the only things that were extremely large. Their hearts were even bigger!!

Turtle 1

The Best Change Ever

Change is never easy, and I think that’s why this season of Lent has been so very difficult for me. So many changes in such a short time left me out of balance for a bit. This morning, as the sun broke through the dark clouds and filled the house for a few special moments, I had to smile back at God and thank Him for all the lessons. Those teachers who push me to the point of true change are the ones I most remember. I don’t normally have a lot of affection for those teachers as they are getting me through a difficult lesson, but I truly appreciate them when I finally get it.

The best teachers are the ones who care about me, and that means understanding that I may not understand or like the lessons they know I truly need. Good parents are not always popular, and neither are good teachers. Jesus is the best teacher ever, and He knew the lessons coming at the cross were going to break His followers’ hearts. He also knew they would lead to stronger discipleship and greater love than they had ever known. They would need those lessons when He was no longer with them, and we still need them today. Without the separation that came with His death, His resurrection would not have been possible. He knew that then, and He knows that now.

The lessons this season of Lent have been about separation more than anything else. I didn’t understand what God was doing and even became angry with Him at one point. This morning, I’m thankful for His patience with me. Hanging on to that which He bids me to release keeps me from experiencing all the good He has for me. My intentions get tangled up in His will if I try to pick and choose or keep one foot in my way and one foot in His. Then my feet, like those good intentions, keep both of us from doing any good. He made it clear that I need to clear my heart and stop trying to convince Him to let me keep this or hold on to that.

God is the Master Teacher, and the change He has in mind is the same change He had in mind on that beautiful morning when Christ rose from the grave. He wants me to experience resurrection living and loving. This morning I celebrate Christ who gave up all to God on my behalf. The result was the single greatest change this world will ever know. I am thankful that He is still a god of hope who gives me the chance to change and live a life worth living forever:)

Journey With Gigi: Path to the Praying Life:)

The praying path leads to peace. In the midst of a storm with no power, I begin the second leg of this beautiful journey. I wrote the draft for the first lesson using the candle from my Emmaus Walk in May 2010. It is appropriate to use the light from that candle because it was on that walk I first heard God’s call to pray.

My first reaction to His call was to wait and pray for the rest of the call. I’m ashamed to say that I dismissed His call as not enough. I wanted more. I needed more. I had to have something more to do. I already prayed and prayed a lot, so what kind of a call was it anyway? I must have misunderstood. How utterly ridiculous that sounded to me as I wrote it last night and as I type it now. I suppose that indicates I have learned a little since then.

Darkness is necessary in order to see the light. That was clear to me as I sat in the dark last night with pen and pad in hand writing by candlelight. I pray I always remember the importance of Christ’s light as I navigate the darkness of this world. When all is sunny and bright, I still must light a candle of prayer. In fact, it is never more important to light a candle of prayer than in the midst of the bright lights this world offers to imitate His beautiful light.

I huddled near my candle in the dark, stormy night. (I have to admit here that the comedian in me so wanted to start off with, “It was a dark and stormy night….”) I’m glad I resisted the temptation, and I know you are too:) The darkness, accompanied by harsh winds and driving rain, forced me to be still and listen. I didn’t venture back to the church for the evening meal, but I did get out my laptop and go to the podcasts and listen to “Resurrection Living” from May 2011. Pastor John and I talked about the upcoming message in 1 Corinthians 15:1-11 on resurrection, and I remembered that he had done a powerful message from 1 Peter 3 on the subject. I’m so thankful my battery lasted until I finished the message because it was just what I needed.

Here it is: “Resurrection Living” Dr. John Alden Tagliarini

In my study of 1 Corinthians 15:1-11 this week, I was shocked that some Christians don’t believe the resurrection actually took place. I can’t imagine leaving that part out of the story of Christ, but it’s done. Amazing! When I don’t live a resurrection life, I act as though I don’t believe it either. So, I won’t be tossing any rocks:) Without resurrection, Christ stays in the grave. Without faith, my praying life does the same.

The praying life is a resurrection life that provides evidence to the world that Christ is who He says He is, and His love is for all. Christ’s precious love is indeed the most precious thing on earth and in heaven. I always wonder what the angels must make of us and the way we deal with that precious gift. I let too much get in the way when it comes to hearing God’s message for me, embracing the love and forgiveness Christ offers, and letting the Holy Spirit do God’s work through me.

Since I’ve moved to the mountaintop, I haven’t had television. I have a pair of rabbit ears that help me get the closest local station with a lot of static. I only turn it on if there is bad weather coming or some big news event, and it’s a struggle to piece together the broken signal. God reminded me last night that He sometimes feels the same way when listening to my prayers:)

The lessons on praying came in the midst of a terrible storm, so I had no trouble praying, focusing, or listening to God. I was also very still which helps immensely. I pray I will have the same attention when things are bright, sunny, and filled with the busyness of my doing. That is the first and most important lesson when it comes to living a resurrection life and keeping to the path that leads to the praying life.

I’m ready to put God’s to-do list away and pray in a way that brings the sweet peace of His Holy Spirit’s indwelling. Jesus didn’t leave me alone, and that brings peace in the darkest storm. Last night, as the kids huddled together, I thought of how power outages have the tendency to pull us together. That calms the soul and lifts the spirit. I don’t know where the lessons will lead, but I do know they are off to an amazing start! Amazing what God can do with a storm, a power outage, and a little prayer candle.