The Weight of Grief in the Garden

When He rose from prayer and went back to the disciples, He found them asleep, exhausted from sorrow. – (Luke 22:45, NIV)
When He finished praying, He went to His followers. He found them asleep, worn out from their grieving.  – (Luke 22:45, ERV)
When Jesus finished praying, He got up and went to His disciples and found them all asleep, for they were exhausted and overwhelmed with sorrow. – (Luke 22:45, TPT)
I am not sure why I have not ever noticed the phrasing of Luke’s account of what took place in the Garden of Gethsemane before, but why the disciples fell asleep, becomes far more relate-able somehow. The disciples had every reason to be grieving, for they had shared their final meal with Jesus, heard His last words of wisdom, sung their last hymn together, and then heard that one among them would betray Him and another would deny Him… That is some serious heaviness to hold. How often do we find ourselves in the same sort of space? There  are times that the grief is too great, and even as we try to pray, exhaustion takes over, and sleep finds a welcomed win. The disciples, though Jesus had told them what would take place, could likely not wrap their hearts and minds around it all. They were in the throes of the suffering and sorrow-filled part, and could not yet see the glorious hope that would come after the horror Jesus was about to endure. Incredibly, Jesus continued to pray. When Judas and his entourage of Sanhedrin and soldiers arrived to have Jesus arrested, Jesus continued to love as He healed the ear that an over-zealous disciple cut off in His defense. He went willingly, without argument nor needed force, for love led Him to the cross at Calgary.
I paused writing to go run, and ended up having a great discussion about the potential disparity between the four accounts of the disciples’ time in the garden. My running bestie is a nurse, so she reminded me that Luke was a doctor. Between us, we recognized that the other accounts were recorded by fishermen, who likely felt bad for falling asleep, and simply recorded that alone. Luke, however, from a physician’s standpoint, was the most likely to recognize the toll that grief and sorrow take on the body, and reported the occurrence accordingly. Like me, she had not ever noticed the difference in the accounts of what took place, but together, we discussed how it indeed made sense. Many of us find ourselves in a similar space of grief or sorrow. There is loss that we are uncertain how to process, and that weighs heavily, no matter how much we pray. Perhaps this forced slow down season is meant for more than just protecting ourselves from the further spread of a pandemic; maybe, just maybe, this is a season where we are to allow our bodies to sleep when we can fight it no longer, rest up, reflect on what truly matters, and rise up renewed and refreshed, as Jesus carried it all for us and rose again. May we give ourselves grace in our moments of sorrow, grief and exhaustion, and look to the Lord who is the One who strengthens, renews and grants us what we need to rise up restored, once again.
In grief’s heaviness,

The Weight of Grief

Sculpture by Celeste Roberge

We’re burdened and worn;
Exhausted and spent,
In sorrow, forlorn.
Our bodies in need,
Of overdue rest;
Sometimes a shut down,
When sleep is the best.
God knows all our needs,
He loves us with grace;
Refreshes, renews,
And brings brighter days.
Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You sent Your Son to show us Your goodness and grace, even in humanity’s most exhausted spaces. Thank You that You love us back to life again, even when our weariness from loss steals our resolve to rise and fight. Forgive us for thinking that we can somehow power through things without giving room for grief. Teach us to lean into You to show us how to properly process, rest and rise again in all that You are calling us to do. Lead us to love others well, so that their burdens may be lessened and their sorrow’s shortened. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we come to You in our heaviness and seek You for rest and refreshment as You restore and renew us in You. Amen.
My soul is weary with sorrow; strengthen me according to Your word. – Psalm 119:28

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Clean the Inside of the Cup

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside will also be clean.” – (Matthew 23:25-26, NIV)

“It will be bad for you teachers of the law and you Pharisees! You are hypocrites! You wash clean the outside of your cups and dishes. But inside they are full of what you got by cheating others and pleasing yourselves. Pharisees, you are blind! First make the inside of the cup clean and good. Then the outside of the cup will also be clean.” – (Matthew 23:25-26, ERV)

“You’re hopeless, you religion scholars and Pharisees! Frauds! You burnish the surface of your cups and bowls so they sparkle in the sun, while the insides are maggoty with your greed and gluttony. Stupid Pharisee! Scour the insides, and then the gleaming surface will mean something.” – (Matthew 23:25-26, MSG)

 

On the Tuesday of Holy Week, Jesus began His day, departing Bethany with the disciples. As they were leaving, they passed by the fig tree He had cursed, only to discover it had completely withered. That point of passage began a day filled with teaching, as Jesus started with a lesson on faith. He further taught several parables and answered important questions as people gathered in the temple to hear. The Pharisees, up to their usual attempt at trapping Jesus in some sort of misstep for which they could arrest Him, began a barrage of questions as well. After Jesus brilliantly answered, and completely silenced the scholars with His wisdom, He began a list of woes to them for the practices that they were participating in. One that stood out to me as particularly poignant, and one to ponder personally, is that which is found in the above listed verses from Matthew 23. What does it mean to clean the outside of the cup, but neglect cleaning the inside? To me, it seems He was using the image as an illustration of the heart versus how things appear. We must attend to the motives, desires and purposes within us to be considered clean. For if we seek the Lord and allow Him room to purify our hearts and cleanse us from within, the outside reflects the beauty on the inside. It does not work in reverse. I imagine we have all met or known someone who at first, appeared quite appealing. However, once the heart was made known, the ugly insides tainted the perspective on the outside. Jesus cares about the condition of our heart. Yes, wash your hands, for at least twenty seconds please, but really, it is what flows out of us that impacts those around us, not the package that holds our hearts. My take away today is to seek the Lord and ask Him to show me what filth within me still needs cleansing. We all have spots that get missed, or manage to lie hidden out of plain sight. Jesus is gentle and kind when we choose to seek Him with the hope of being cleansed to more clearly reflect His heart to the world. Lord, cleanse us from the inside out, so that Your love may be made abundantly clear, and no good thing withheld from those in need.

 

Lord, come and show us, Clean the Inside of the Cup

Where we need be cleansed;

Point out the places,

Help us make amends.

Places we’re selfish,

Greedy or unkind;

Over-indulgent,

Show us what You find.

By Your loving grace,

Show us how to change;

Be cleansed from within,

So Your love may reign.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You sent Your Son to show us the way to be cleansed from the inside out. Thank You that not only did You clean the temple, but You are willing to clean the hollows of our heart. Forgive us for the times that we have worried more about “appearances” than being cleansed on the inside. Teach us to fix our eyes and heart on You and what You ask of us. Show us how to love selflessly, without greed, gluttony or reservation. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to show us the ways to wash ourselves within, so that we may shine bright, reflecting Your love to all whom we encounter. Amen.

 

© Shannon Elizabeth Grabrick and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present

 

Have mercy on me, O God, according to Your unfailing love; according to Your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. – Psalm 51:1-2

 

 

Triumphant Entry

A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds went ahead of Him and those that followed shouted, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Hosanna in the highest heaven!” – (Matthew 21:8-9, NIV)

On the way to Jerusalem, many people spread their coats on the road for Jesus. Others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. Some of the people were walking ahead of Jesus. Others were walking behind Him. They all shouted, “Praise to the Son of David!” ‘Welcome! God bless the one who comes in the name of the Lord!’ Praise to God in heaven!” – (Matthew 21:8-9, ERV)

Then an exceptionally large crowd gathered and carpeted the road before Him with their cloaks and prayer shawls. Others cut down branches from trees to spread in His path. Jesus road in the center of the procession – crowds going before Him and crowds coming behind Him, and they all shouted, “Bring the victory, Lord, Son of David! He comes with the blessings of being sent from the Lord Yahweh! We celebrate with praises to God in the highest!” – (Matthew 21:8-9, TPT)

 

This portion of the road to Easter story, never ceases to amaze me. It is difficult to wrap my mind around a huge crowd throwing their coats and palm branches on the road before Jesus, so that He would cross before them on a space that recognized and acknowledged His significance as they shouted out the truth of who He was, only to have a mob mentality less than a week later, to have Him crucified. Further in the passage, the crowd follows Jesus to the temple and He continues to teach and heal and love as He had always done. Imagine His perspective as Jesus rode into Jerusalem. He knew what was coming, yet He chose to enter into town. In our broken humanity, we likely would have questioned the crowd or looked upon them with a lesser love, knowing where the week was going. However, Jesus, in His perfect love, likely took in every face and chose love all the more. He could have turned and ridden right back out of town, and no one would have questioned Him. Jesus entered with purpose, on purpose, and did not deter from He knew He had to do. Love for all of humanity drove Him; love for each one of us, individually, kept Him there. May we turn our hearts and minds to Christ, the risen King, as we enter into this most sacred and surreal Easter week. He is good, and His love endures for all time.

 

Triumphant entry, Palm Sunday

The crowds shouted praise;

All glory to God,

Through sayings they raised.

They made a clear path,

For Christ to ride in;

Such honor granted,

Holy week begins.

Imagine seeing,

The One they foretold;

Passing before you,

A sight to behold.

Help us to take pause,

Reflect and recall;

The great magnitude,

Your entry for all.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You love us so much that You sent Your one and only Son to make the way for us to be restored back to life with You. Thank You that in this season of so much unsettled and unknown, You have settled and You know. Thank You for Your love that entered in, despite the horrendous weight that You were chosen to bear on our behalf. Forgive us for not taking time to pause and reflect on the holiness of this season. Teach us to have a greater grasp of what You have done for us so that we might know love and life abundant in You. Show us how to love others with the same tenacity that You have as You choose to love each of us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we reflect, remember and rejoice in the incredible sacrifice that You made so that we would have abundant life in You. Amen.

 

© Shannon Elizabeth Grabrick and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present

 

Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens. – Psalm 68:19

To Do Good and To Share

And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased. – (Hebrews 13:16, NIV)

And don’t forget to do good and to share what you have with others, because sacrifices like these are very pleasing to God. – (Hebrews 13:16, ERV)

Let’s not neglect what is good and share what we have, for these sacrifices also please God. – (Hebrews 13:16, VOICE)

 

It is amazing to see how an order to “Stay at Home” has produced incredible opportunities for people to utilize their time and talents to do good and share with others. One of the things that I have been most impressed with that my school district is doing, is they are mobilizing and making “grab and go” breakfasts and lunches available to all students in our district. The service will continue during our scheduled spring break, despite it technically being a time that our amazing nutrition service team ought to have a reprieve. In addition to the breakfast and lunch program, local businesses and churches, including my own church, have partnered with the district to identify families that may need additional meal/grocery support in this season, and are providing extra supplies to assist. The stories of neighbors helping and caring for one another bless my heart each time I hear them, and the army of seamstresses that are heeding the call for protective masks and sewing for hours on end are doing the very good and sharing with others as we have been called to do. Doing good can be acts that are great or small – each will make a difference. Our time, talent and resources are what we have to offer. Sometimes, doing good is reaching out and checking on whomever comes to mind. It is never an accident. May we seek the Lord and ask of Him how we can do good and best share what we have with others. He is faithful and will show us where to best utilize our time, resources and talents to bless and encourage those around us.

 

Seek the Lord our God,wp-15859180799861846871613245770390.png

And choose ask of Him;

What shall I do next,

Where do I begin?

Show me how to use,

Time, talents, supplies;

To bless and to serve,

Lord, help me be wise.

For each choice to give,

Is honoring You;

Overflow of thanks,

As Your love shines through.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us to do good and to share what we have with those around us. Thank You that You bless us with more than just “things”, but You grant us time and talents too. Thank You that all of us have something to offer. Thank You for the countless examples of those who are rising up and doing good, selflessly, in this season. Forgive us for forgetting that we were indeed uniquely and intentionally designed with purpose to do good for Your glory. Show us how to best honor You in all that we say and do. Teach us how to love those around us in the ways that You have designed us to love and serve. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we choose to do good and serve others with our time, talent and resources. Amen.

 

© Shannon Elizabeth Grabrick and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present

 

A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you must love one another – John 13:34

Ponder the Pain

Now Jesus was going up to Jerusalem. On the way, He took the Twelve aside and said to them, “We are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn Him to death and will hand Him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified. On the third day He will be raised to life!” – (Matthew 20:17-19, NIV)

Jesus was going to Jerusalem. His twelve followers were with Him. While they were walking, He gathered the followers together and spoke to them privately. He said to them, “We are going to Jerusalem. The Son of Man will be handed over to the leading priests and the teachers of the law, and they will say He must die. They will hand Him over to the foreigners, who will laugh at Him and beat Him with whips, and then they will kill Him on a cross. But on the third day after His death, He will be raised to life again.” – (Matthew 20:17-19, ERV)

 

As I opened my Bible application to read the passage for today, I was taken aback as I realized our nearness to Easter, and the significance of the passage presented. It has taken all of my fortitude to simply keep current on what day of the week it is, and recognize which particular date corresponds on the calendar, (with loads of helpful reminders from modern technology) let alone look further forward than a day or two. This passage, however, jolted my head and heart back to the reality of the sacred remembrance of this season. Jesus boldly and willingly went to Jerusalem, knowing what stood before Him. The love within Him was far greater than the human desire to detour away from pain and suffering. Jesus chose the agonizing road, so that we could have life, light, hope, love and freedom in Him. I imagine the days leading up to the cross seemed agonizingly long. He knew what He had to do, yet He could not stop preparing and living and loving, leading up to that point in time, when all of the sin, shame and suffering of the world would be His to bear on our behalf. There are a million directions my mind could go when I ponder the pain He endured for me. This morning, my thought is simply that if He could continue in living and loving, knowing that He would have to endure so much suffering; how much more ought we choose to live and love with hope, knowing that our present circumstances will not remain as they are forever. Though we do not know the end date, and have disappointments and losses and reasons to grieve, we also have reason to live and love and spread hope through extending the very same kindness that Christ has granted to us. May we take pause and ponder the purpose of this season, as we observe new life sprouting and taking root all around us. He is risen, and hope is here.

 

Even in darkness,DSC00009

Light finds its way in;

Buds begin blooming,

As springtime begins.

In our rough seasons,

We are not alone;

Christ’s gone before us,

Each pain He has known.

And just when darkness,

Seemed it would not end;

His death on the cross,

Then He rose again…

From out of the grave,

Three days He had lain;

Christ resurrected,

Hope rose once again.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You came and chose the painful road on our behalf, because You love so deeply. Thank You that Your life, death and resurrection made the way for life, hope and love for us all. Forgive us for allowing our present darkness to overshadow the light of all that You have done and continue to do for us and in us. Show us how to love those around us in ways that offer love, light, life and hope in the same way that You do for us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You for the incredible sacrifice that You made on our behalf, and the love that carried You down that difficult road. Amen.

 

© Shannon Elizabeth Grabrick and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present

 

So Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and He will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for Him. – Hebrews 9:28

Inventive in Hospitality

Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. – (Romans 12:13, NIV)

Help needy Christians; be inventive in hospitality. – (Romans 12:13, MSG)

When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality. – (Romans 12:13, NLT)

 

If ever there was a time to do as we are called to do, now is the time. Sharing and extending help to those in need is a necessity as businesses are having to close their doors if they cannot be sustained through online ordering or curbside pickup. I love how the Message translation says, “be inventive in hospitality.” This is indeed required, as social distancing transforms the traditional perception of hospitality. However, for fun, I checked the dictionary definition, and discovered that it pairs well with being inventive in hospitality. According to dictionary.com, hospitality is: the quality or disposition of receiving and treating guests and strangers in a warm, friendly, generous way. As far as I can fathom, it is not required to have someone into a home or a space that violates the social distancing expectations, to extend warmth, kindness and generosity. If we watch and listen, we are able to discover needs and do what we can, where we can. Yesterday, I had the privilege of participating at one of my school district’s breakfast and lunch distribution sites, as our union has partnered with nutrition services to lend a hand and be familiar faces for families as they drive through to pick up meals. A fellow teacher from my school and I, worked together with three incredible ladies from nutrition services. One, I discovered, was the mom of a terrific young man whom I had known throughout my schooling days, the second, was a sweet mom of two young kids who were waiting at home, and the third, was the incredible woman who runs the kitchen right there at the high school. We all worked together to keep the supply on the table for distribution, as families trickled through the bus loop to pick up meals. It was a treasure to exchange smiles and friendly greetings, even from our safe distances, as the sun was out and it was clear that all were in appreciation of the hospitality our district is extending.

As for Mom, she is doing fairly well, considering she is stuck in quarantine with NO VISITORS allowed. The only people permitted to see her are her therapists and those who work onsite. No family, friends or the like. We know it is good and necessary for prevention, but a bummer for someone as social as Mom. Phone calls, messages, and mail are always good, and I imagine the same is true for anyone living in a senior living community. In fact, if you are looking for an activity for kids to do at home that is an art/writing combination, making cards and or drawing pictures to send to loved ones in quarantine, or to local senior living facilities would be amazing. It is a simple way that even the youngest among us can learn to practice being inventive in hospitality. May we all look for ways to reach out, safely, to help bless and meet needs where we are able.

 

We have been chosen, wp-15847113510635646106566926534739.jpg

To love and reach out;

Do what we’re able,

To help those without.

As God’s created,

We are made to love;

To extend and give,

Place people above.

Let not the lonely,

Stay trapped in alone;

A call, card or text,

Can make them feel known.

For physical lack,

Let’s rise up and give;

Where we are able,

To help others live.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us to take care of one another. Thank You that in trying times, we are meant to share one another’s burdens. Show us how to be inventive in hospitality, so that we may treat those around us in warm, friendly and generous ways. Forgive us for thinking that we have nothing to offer, or that there is no safe way to be hospitable in times like these. Teach us to trust You to lead and guide us in ways that You have for us to extend hospitality to others. Show us how to love those around us in generous, tangible and practical ways. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to show us where we are meant to extend our time, talent or resources to bless those around us. Amen.

 

© Shannon Elizabeth Grabrick and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present

 

A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed. – Proverbs 11:25

Gifts to Succeed

For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. – (2 Timothy 1:7, NIV)

The Spirit God gave us does not make us afraid. His Spirit is a source of power and love and self-control. – (2 Timothy 1:7, ERV)

For the Holy Spirit, God’s gift, does not want you to be afraid of people, but to be wise and strong, and to love them and enjoy being with them. – (2 Timothy 1:7, TLB)

 

This is an interesting verse to land upon on the Friday of a very long week. Exhaustion is throbbing throughout my frontal lobe, and my resolve needs renewing in a supernatural way. That being said, I know my charge is to lean into God; and as I do, He will supply the strength, wisdom and love to navigate today. The Lord removes hesitations and frustrations, as I give them to Him, and grants me what I need to rise up and run. In the power, love and strength that Christ provides, I am going to choose to enjoying being present with those who are placed around me. I am blessed to work with a phenomenal group of colleagues, have some incredible students and artists, and am gifted with a fantastic group of gymnasts, who support and encourage one another. May we all seek the Lord for strength, as He removes our hesitations and replaces them with power, love and self-discipline.

 

Our God makes a way, Gifts to Succeed

Where it seems there’s none;

He grants us the strength,

To rise, get things done.

He takes away fear,

Provides what we need;

Wisdom, power, love,

His gifts to succeed.

When our strength is gone,

He won’t let us fall;

God grants strength and hope,

To love one and all.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You see and know our needs far better than we do. Thank You that as we lean on You, You supply the strength, wisdom, love and self-discipline that we need to navigate each next step. Forgive us for our frustration with our own weariness, for we are fallible and desperately need You. Teach us to trust and rely on You in all things and at all times, for You are all that we need. Show us how to love others with the strength, power and grace that You provide. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we give You our timidity and hesitations, and trust You to provide all that we need to press on. Amen.

 

© Shannon Elizabeth Grabrick and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present

 

May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had. – Romans 15:5

Great Comfort in Knowing

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. – (Romans 8:38-39, NIV)

Yes, I am sure that nothing can separate us from God’s love – not death, life, angels, or ruling spirits. I am sure that nothing now, nothing in the future, no powers, nothing above us or nothing below us – nothing in the whole created world – will ever be able to separate us from the love God has shown us in Christ Jesus our Lord. – (Romans 8:38-39, ERV)

For I have every confidence that nothing – not death, life, heavenly messengers, dark spirits, the present, the future, spiritual powers, height, depth, nor any created thing – can come between us and the love of God revealed in the Anointed, Jesus our Lord. – (Romans 8:38-39, VOICE)

 

There is great comfort in knowing that there is nothing that surrounds us, comes against us, nor that we could go through, that can separate us from the love of God. His love is eternal and knows no limits. Whether we are having a wonderful day or a day that we would rather have remained in bed, God’s love for us is constant, consistent, and secure. Being loved when we are least lovable, demonstrates the true depth of love granted to us. It is not earned nor somehow rewarded, but rather freely given as the Creator loves His created. May we receive and recognize the remarkable love of our Redeemer, so that we may go forth and love others in the same way.

 

O Lord, as I rise, wp-15820303444235351272726723109852.jpg

Make Your love so clear;

No matter what comes,

Show me that You’re near.

There’s no height nor depth,

That can keep away;

The goodness You give,

When to You, we pray.

Go before us Lord,

With Your love and light;

Be near and guide us,

To choose what is right.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that there is nothing that can separate us from Your love. Thank You that as we receive the love You offer, You equip us to go forth and love others in the same way. Forgive us for the times that we have either not received what You freely give, or have withheld what we were meant to extend to those around us. Show us how to love one another well. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You for Your limitless love, and seek You to love others in the same way. Amen.

 

© Shannon Elizabeth Grabrick and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present

 

But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of His mercy. – Titus 3:4-5a