Since the death of my Mother, I wander around our empty apartment at a loss of what to do. On my desk is a lengthy to-do list, but, because of grief, I feel overwhelmed and paralyzed, unable to take action at times, because there are physical reminders of Mom everywhere. I have already done a lot in dealing with her estate, but my day-to-day existence for the last few years is no more. I know I am not alone in the experience of grief after the death of a loved one.

The Crucifixion and Resurrection

That dark day after the crucifixion of Jesus Christ and before the resurrection, I imagine the disciples and followers of Jesus felt the same feeling of loss that I do. The man whom they had believed in for years was gone, betrayed by one of their own and crucified. They were in hiding afraid they might be next.

But, on the third day, Jesus rose from the dead. Even though they had seen Jesus raise people from the dead, and even though he had told them he would rise, permanent loss dominated their experience of death.

It took convincing.

Here’s how the Gospel of Mark tells it: (my paraphrasing)

Jesus first appeared to Mary Magdalene, then to two others walking in the country. He told all three to go to the disciples and tell them he had risen. But the disciples didn’t what they were told.

Finally, Jesus himself appeared to the disciples. He let them he wasn’t happy with their stubborn disbelief. Yikes!

The Question

How do we make that connection without a memory of His physical presence? Is it really possible? Can we know He is with us without the physical connection or memory of it?

Difficult questions to answer for sure. In the absence of scientific proof, we are presented with testimonial proof. Even one of the eleven disciples who followed Jesus needed physical proof. Thomas said he had to touch Jesus, put his hands in his wounds before he would believe the miracle. When Jesus appeared, and Thomas believed, Jesus said to him, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.” (John 20:29) Jesus need not appear in the flesh to make himself known to us.

In the gospel accounts, for forty days after his resurrection (Acts 1:3), Jesus appeared to the disciples, he talked with them, walked with them, and ate with them.

The Argument – But. That was then, this is now.

But, it need not be a then versus now debate. If we turn our hearts towards Jesus, ask forgiveness for our sins, and live for Him, He will make his presence known and felt.

The Answer to the Question

Therefore, it is an individual experience, as unique as each human being. He longs to be in relationship with us, that longing did not end when his earthly life ended, nor did it stop when those who knew him on earth had passed. Since that first Easter, there exist generations of witnesses. Throughout my life, I have felt his presence with me. It has been tangible. As if I could reach out and touch something. I am one of that great cloud of witnesses spoken of in Hebrews 12: 1-3 (The Message, translation):

“Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we’d better get on with it. Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!”

A Challenge

I would like to lay a challenge before the readers of this post. For the next forty days, whether or not you are a believer, turn your heart towards Jesus and let him make his presence known to you.
I would love to hear from you about your experiences with God being present in your life. Both old and the new ones to come during the next forty days.

Will you join me on this challenge? Let us together be members of that great cloud of witnesses.

2 thoughts on “How is God with us?”

  1. Kelly,
    I’m so sorry to hear about the loss of your Mom.
    I am just getting through emails from the last couple of weeks; so I apologise that you haven’t heard from us earlier. Our prayers are with you during this time of mourning.

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