Last night I attended a Good Friday service. I know the story, I know the pain and suffering Jesus faced as he took on the sins of the world, as he was in that moment on the cross separated from His Father calling out "why have your forsaken me" and God knowing this is what needed to be done to say man from himself.
The pastor set the tone for the evening. Stating that this is going to be a different service. It was not going to be fun, joyful, the music not the same. He even asked that people not leave, as I am sure what was to come might offend. And then the words went up on the screen. Words that were not going to be read out loud, but each person was to have their own alone time, pondering this moment in history. Alone. Jesus was alone. Even though I sat inches away from Emily I asked myself this one question. How can I be changed this evening? Changed with a story I know so well.
The music played, minor after minor. Blaring in a way as if to be standing on the side watching Jesus beaten, spit upon, and carrying that cross up the hill. "When the Shepard is down, the sheep scatter." Our Lord Jesus, the Shepard of our soul beaten down, and his disciples scattered. The music continued. I sat quietly asking God to show me what my heart needed to know that was more, that would deepen my understanding, that would change my heart.
I had to close my eyes and listen to the music. And then the Holy Spirit spoke to my heart. Scattered Elizabeth. You get scattered to easily. I felt in that moment like the little lamb that runs off the trail and how my choices to step away from the Shepard puts me into a frenzied scatter. Even in the smallest ways. Do I say and do things that do not bring honor to Jesus. It's those things that beat Him down, and again that little lamb named Elizabeth who stumbles out of sight of the Shepard scattered and left to her own.
It is not enough for me to just see the story as a man who walked a long painful walk to a cross for me. I have to take this event in history and be reminded daily, when Easter has come and gone, just what it means every day of walking with Jesus. I am scattered about because of my turning away from Him. Yes, on Easter He had to be separated from His father. Does the sin in my heart separate me, for a day, a season, or do I pick up that cross and carry it too.
At the end of the service a young man got up to sing the last song. I realized that I had been so deeply praying I forgot to get up and take communion. When the song was over he said that one of the things he had hoped for tonight " is that your heart would be changed."
My heart was changed, a new understanding, a new accountability of my heart, a word that has me pondering my walk with Jesus, a new understanding of being separated and alone when I turn my back on the Shepard, a scattered lamb who needs not be stepping off the trail. Easter is about the his death and resurrection. It's about my sin, his act of taking it all, and me that little lamb following him.
May the reminder of Jesus' death on the cross and resurrection change your heart today.