"if nothing ever changed, there would be no butterflies"

Thursday, November 6, 2014

The Bridge to Nowhere


I have spent most of my life in Northeastern Ohio.  From the age of seven on, aside from one year, I lived in Lake county.  I was surprised to learn a few years back about a beautiful bridge that sits behind my good friends house in that very county.  When I asked her where the bridge went to, she answered, nowhere.  This bridge, which adds to the picturesque scene from her back window, literally sits over the lagoon, going nowhere.  According to www.lakecountyohio.gov, this bridge was built in 1924 by a group of investors from Cleveland.  They invested more than $1 million dollars to develop the lagoons into an area to be known as “Venice of the North”.  There was to be a road that led up to this bridge which would lead to a developed area, however, that road was never started and the area was never developed.  The plans for this development came to a halt when the stock market crashed in 1929.  Since then, this bridge has been known as “the bridge to nowhere”.

This summer, my husband and I went on a boat ride with our friends.  I took this picture as we travelled under this bridge, while I marveled at the thought of it’s history.  I was also sad to learn that there was a possibility that this bridge would be torn down.  According to a News Herald article, there were studies done to determine whether or not this bridge would be considered historical.  If they could determine that it would be, there would be grants and funds to keep the bridge up, but unfortunately, the  proof fell short of supporting this.  Because the bridge needs repairs and is becoming a danger to boaters, the bridge would need to be torn down.

The demolition has begun as of this week.  If you look the bridge up on the internet, you will see pictures of it, however, if you look outside my friends back window in a few months, you will no longer see the bridge.  I thought about our faith and how this applies.  Over 2,000 years ago, a man walked the earth, his name was Jesus.  He lived like any other man, sleeping and eating.  He got up in the morning and went to work, just like everyone else, but there was something different about this man.  He was the Son of God, the second part of the Trinity.  He was sinless, pure, and perfect.  He lived among those who just couldn’t get it right and those who had no desire to.  He worked to spread the news about His Father in Heaven.  He healed the sick, freed the bound and gave legs to the lame.  He became such a threat to the religious leaders that they searched for ways to condemn Him.  They aresseted Him, beat Him and killed Him.  But something happened, He rose to life.  He did not stay in the grave, He walked out and He still lives today.

Jesus is the way, the truth and the life according to John 14:6.  The word says that if we believe that He is the Son of God, we will have eternal life (John 3:16).  He is now at the right hand of the Father in heaven (Acts 2:33), but He is still with us, holding us up (Isaiah 41:10).  The sad part is, not everyone believes this.  The saying goes “I’ll believe it when I see it”, and unfortunately, that’s how many people think of Jesus.  Philippians 2:10 says “so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on the earth and under the earth”.  But because some can’t physically see Him, they do not believe that He exists.

One of my very favorite verses is Hebrews 11:1 “now faith is being sure of what you hope for and certain of what you do not see”.   When I think of the bridge, one day we will not see it.  It will be gone.  The remnants and even tire marks from the demolition equipment will be no longer, but did the bridge exist?  Does this mean that it was never there?  Not at all, I have this picture to prove it.  You see, we have a picture of Jesus too, the Word of God.  John 1:1-3 says “In the beginning was the word, the word was with God and the word was God, He was in the beginning with God”.  Who was in the beginning?  Jesus, that’s who. So we need to believe that as much as that bridge stood for ninety years, our Lord has been standing for over two thousand years, even if we can't see Him. 

So as you ponder your thoughts on your belief, remember that sometimes we need to trust beyond what we can see.  Just because there is no visible proof of our faith, we need to press on in our belief, knowing that many years ago, Jesus stood on this earth and now stands in Heaven.  Unlike the bridge that was determined to have no historical value, Jesus’ life was proven over and over again throughout history.  And if we put our faith in Jesus, we will live with Him eternally. 


Connie,


Just a thought... by Connie Kovach

Sunday, September 7, 2014

4 GIVEN

“Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord,” Acts 3:19

I was talking to a dear friend on the phone one day.  They were telling me how disgusted they were about a friend who had found God.   They said that it was wrong because this guy and his wife were doing horrible things before, and finding God was just a way to make them feel better, a way out of their guilt, shame, and old life.  As I pondered his statements from months ago, I wondered is this how people feel, are we just making ourselves feel better?  I have been praying to God “I believe, help my unbelief” (Mark 9:24) for months when those thoughts would occur, but last week, God went above and beyond.  He helped me to not only believe, but to understand completely.

I was driving with my son.  As we passed a Laketran bus, I noticed the advertisement on the back.  It said 4 GIVEN on an oversized license plate.  The small print read about an insurance company and accident forgiveness.  I worked at an automobile insurance company for about 10 years until my son was born, so I started thinking about accident forgiveness and how it worked.

If someone had an at-fault accident and had no other violations, the insurance company would not charge them for it.  So their insurance premium would not increase; it was like it never existed.  However, the accident certainly did exist, and there was a wake of evidence to prove it.  Bills from the automobile repair shop, the new fender on your car, the stiff neck that tends to flair up when it rains, the list goes on.   So back to the policy; the premium is a legally bound contract between the insurance company and the insured.  The fact that the premium does not go up, is only known by the person who caused the accident and the insurance company.

As I thought about this process, it became evident to me that freedom in Christ is the same way.  When we confess our sins to each other, and pray in faith we will be forgiven (James 5:15-16).  What does that mean?  It means it is gone; the blood of Jesus has washed it away.  Does this mean everything caused from our sin will disappear?  Unfortunately not; the wake of evidence will again be there.  The health issues, injuries, people who were hurt or saw you live a sinful lifestyle will remember, possibly judge and maybe even condemn you for your past life.  But we must remember that our relationship with Christ is a divine document sealed with faith that is between only Him and us.  When God sent His son Jesus to die on the cross, He did it to wipe your sins away.


So when I rethought the comments made by my dear friend, I realized that they were absolutely right.  Remember they said that opening their life to God would just make them feel better?  This is true because the burden lifted from confessing our past to God gives unbelievable peace (Matthew 11:28).   They said that it was just a way out of their shame and guilt.  This also is true, there is no guilt or shame in Christ (John 3:17, Romans 1:1-4).  You see, no matter what your past life held, once you repent not only will your sins be wiped out, but refreshment will follow (Acts 3:19).  To repent means to not only confess your sin, but to turn from it.  So I thank God for my new life in Christ and I will thank my friend who challenged me to believe, on a whole new level.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Trust

What a word!  So few letters, yet so much work.  I am in a season that screams this word. What are we to trust?  I mean, I know that I need to trust God, but what is He asking me to trust Him with?  The answer is deafening...everything!

If you are like me, then this word makes you cringe. The only things that I've put my trust in have been my determination and my disappointment. These are two things that haven't let me down because I've come to expect them. Does that mean that I am dissapointed in God?  As a dear friend told me "Be real with Him Connie, He can handle it". So, real I am, and Sovereign is He. You see, sometimes our plans for our lives don't shape up the way we hope they will. Don't get me wrong, God answers prayer, just not usually in the way we picture it.

"For I know the plans I have for you, declares The Lord. Plans to prosper you, not to harm you; plans to give you a hope and a future."  Jeremiah 29:11 God is saying, I God, know the plans that I, God, have for you.   He did not say, I know the plans we have for your life.  He did not say, I know the plans you have for your life. His plans, His will.

If you read the chapter this passage comes from, you will find that God is speaking, through the prophet Jeremiah, to the people of Israel after they were taken into captivity by King Nebuchadnezzar, who took them to Babylon. God is telling these people, you are held captive, and it's all good, I allowed it to go this way. Get married, have babies, live life. Most importantly, pray for this city and wait for me to set you free after many years. I am guessing, that was not the answer to prayer that they wanted to hear.

I don't know where you are.  I don't know what you are facing.  I don't know how anything will turn out for either one of us, but I do know that God loves us.  I know that the storms that continually hit are not a reflection of His love.  He loves us no matter what, even if the storms are brought on by our own circumstanses.  All over the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, it tells us how God loved us so much that He sent Jesus to free us of unrighteousness.  It tells us that God is righteous and holy and He cannot come near sin.  We are sin, it's what we were born with.  There is nothing we can do to remove it, except to trust.  To trust that Jesus suffered and died on the cross to take the place of that sin.   That He is the catylist that connects us to the Father, only when we have eyes to see it and hearts to believe it.  So what do we do with that love that has been extended to us.  How do we respond?  Personally, I will choose to ask God to show me how to trust Him.

Let's pray: "Lord, there are a whole lot of people hurting right now.  Many have no answers to prayer, including myself.  God these are tough times for so many people.  BUT, God You are bigger than it all.  Your word tells us that You win!  That all we struggle with will be worth it if we believe.  God Your word tells us that You love us no matter what.  Help us Lord, to be a people who believe it, who live it.  God help us to learn to trust You with the plans You have for our lives.  We thank You for Jesus, who taught us to trust.  Amen"

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Lessons

Psalm 23

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever. 


The weather is finally warming up and it is extremely welcome.  As we sit on the cusp of June, I am finding myself in the same place that I have been for the last six months, winter.  I realize there is no snow on the ground anymore, I am speaking spiritually here.  God has been using this season to teach me many things about myself.  Things that I didn't understand and things that I didn't like very much.  There were lessons about God as well, teaching me about His love and grace that He has just for me.

Over the last year, there have been circumstances that have brought me to my knees, realizing the ugly sin of pride in my life and heart.  My outward tantrums that reveal my inward unbelief and pain have become visible in the spiritual mirror that God has allowed me to see.  I have spent this time frustrated and feeling unsatisfied, downright angry.

I noticed that when I would wake up, there would be a constant heaviness upon me.  The day would begin with thoughts of frustration and feelings of irritation.  I can't truly explain what I mean other than that I would prepare to fight for a good morning.  Every conversation would be on the defense, including the ones in my mind.  I would pray for God to just allow me to enjoy my day or better yet, just make it through.  This is crazy to me since I just let our ladies retreat concerning the topic of "Joy", but apparently, God wants to take me deeper into the lesson and reveal some unhealed territory.

During this last week, I hit an all time low.  Each day seemed to get darker and more depressing than the next.  I found myself barely making it through my workday and hiding away at night, dodging calls, texts and social media.  I didn't quite understand where this heaviness of heart was coming from because I had just come off of an amazing weekend full of close friends and celebration, but boy did it hit.

As I was tucked away in my own pity party, feeling like God didn't truly have plans for my life, I was interrupted by a few texts and calls from friends.  These friends had no idea what was happening in my life and walk, but the prompting that God placed on their hearts to reach out was truly appreciated.  Once again, God was showing me how much He loved me, to reach out in the darkness, specifically to me.

Reluctantly, I went to the word and asked God for something new.  Psalm 23 is the page I felt I needed to go to.  I have read this so many times, even written about it, however, I really felt I needed to go there.  So I prayed, "God show me something new please, I need a word".  He answered that prayer and then some.

The first verse came with a lesson "The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want".  I googled what a shepherd was and it was described as a person who tends, herds, feeds, or guards herds of sheep.  Right away I was moved.  God is my shepherd.  The word of God says we are His sheep.  This means God tends, herds, feeds, and guards us.  When I looked up the word tend, it was described as to attend as a servant or to apply oneself to the care of.  Wow, that's  the truth.  I looked up the word "herd"  the definition was to gather, lead, or drive as if in a herd.  At this point, I knew He was speaking directly to my hardened heart.  The Lord is my shepherd.  He is the one who takes care of me, He leads me and gathers me with others so that I am not isolated.  He feeds me, not only by supplying much needed food, but spiritually as well.  As I sat in my dry, thirsty place, He brought life to this passage that I've read many times before.   So asked God for more, and then I read on.

Four words somehow jumped off of the page like never before, "I shall not want".  Um, yea, about that... God what are you saying?  What shall I not want for?   He has been removing my wants for a long time, how much more can I not want for?  I feel that God has been toppling idols or "wants" in my life.  From the want to be appreciated or liked, to the want to be in control of my finances, He has toppled every last one of them.  Then I realized, that there is one more, the idol or want that I have.  It is to carry my past hurts into today.

What am I talking about?  I will try to explain.  As I shared with you a few paragraphs ago, I led our ladies retreat and shared my story of anxiety, freedom, hope and healing.  In doing this, I had to revisit some painful places in my life.  Though this was part of the healing, I still allowed it to be part of my life today.  Last weekend, I revisited a different part of my past.  A part that revealed to me God's Sovereignty in tribulation.  A part that explains how He tended to me as a young child.  So to revisit so many memories that blessed me, really messed with my head.  It's as if my past pain didn't know how to share the spotlight with the past blessings.  I realized that I had been carrying my pain around in a backpack, so to speak, just in case I needed to pull it out on a rainy day.

I know this sounds crazy, I mean who would cut open a wound once it's healed just to feel something?  Many people, actually the numbers of people who cut or self harm is on the rise.  The problem is that most people who suffer from this, do it in quiet.  They don't realize how the pain is not the ground we are meant to stand on.  They don't realize that God wants to herd us away from that faulty ground and lead us by still waters, where we can properly heal.   God showed me that I needed to live as I believe.  2 Corinthians 5:17 says "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.  The old has passed away; behold, the new has come."  If I truly believe this, then why do I carry that old Connie in a backpack?  What good does it serve?  Where is this disconnect that separates the old thoughts of Connie's life from the new creation, the truth?  Why do I feel the need to separate the good memories from the bad, when truthfully, they are meant to work together in order to shape my future. 

Let' stop here for prayer and continue later:

"Ok Lord, I just want to stop and thank You.  Thank You God for loving us each individually.  It seems hard to comprehend that love You have for us.  How can You love so many and share that love with each of us?  Then we look at the role of a shepherd.  He tends, herds, feeds and guards each and every one of them.  We thank You for doing the same.  We thank You God for the healing, though so painful to walk through, it is necessary for joy.  You provide still waters to rest by when we are overwhelmed.  Thank You for this journey and please help my random thoughts to be understood.  We love You Lord, and it's in Your Son's name that we pray...Amen"

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Broken

Did you ever have a time in your life when it seemed like everyone around you was suffering?  Like so many people were just hurting and there was nothing you could do about it?  Pain, that you watch the people you love both family and friends experience physically, emotionally, and mentally can be overwhelming.  You just sit there helpless, waiting to see what God will do while secretly praying that this pain doesn't shape their vision of Him in a negative way.  Well there is something that you can do, worship.  Some of you are like, what the heck is she talking about.  Those of you that know the term are probably thinking that's the opposite of what makes sense, right?

The word worship means to revere, to show respect.  Having the word "to" in front of it, shows that it is a verb or an action.  I have always thought of worship as singing along to music.  Singing worship songs or hymns is a great way to revere God, however, I am learning something completely different, something that means so much more.

If worship is how we show respect, then we must do that in all of life, not just for 20 minutes before we hear a message in church.  It's the way we speak, how we love, how we forgive.  It's the way we serve, how we work, and yes, the way we give.  It's the thoughts we have, especially the ones that no one knows about.  Worship is how we live our lives.  Worship is the litmus of our faith.

Recently, I have watched many people deal with some heavy things, both in my family and out.  I have been praying because I truly believe that it makes a difference.  I believe that God's will, will be done, but I also believe God hears our prayers.  In Exodus 32 there is a story of Moses and Aaron.  Aaron falls short and sins greatly, however, by the prayers of Moses, Aaron's life is spared.  So I would say that prayer can do amazing things.  The bible speaks of prayer hundreds of times.  Prayer is a very important part of worship.

I shared with you that I learned a lesson, and the classroom I speak of is my church.    You see there is a man, a friend, that attends and has been for a while now who has a beyond broken foot.  He has gone through surgeries, wheelchairs, casts and canes.  Every week during worship, I see him with his hands raised high.  Sometimes, he cannot even stand, so he will just hit his knees and raise his hands.  Though part of his body is broken, he still gives all he has to God, pain and all.

This weekend was bittersweet in that there was some pain that some close friends went through, and this week is shaping up to be no different.  I find myself hurting for them and with each one of them specifically.  1 Corinthians 12 tells us that we are one body of believers.  Verse 26 says "If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together."  So this got me thinking, as I have watched this friend with the broken foot attend church week after week.  As I see him stand to worship but sometimes, for pain or lack of strength, fall to his knees with hands lifted high, praising God, aren't we to be doing the same thing?

When part of our family is broken, what do we do?  We should take this example and hit our knees in prayer while raising our hands to praise Him.   Pray for that miracle, for healing, for hearts to be renewed, don't stop, pray.  The bible says that God is Sovereign, so that means no matter what happens, He has allowed it and He can stop it or change it at any time.  Praising Him just makes sense.  Will you join me as we worship Him in prayer?

"Dear Heavenly Father, we praise You for all that You do.  We praise You for all that You don't do, because God You have something for us in that too.  It's so hard to watch people suffer God.  It's hard to watch them hurting, but we know You are Sovereign.  We thank You that we don't have to be strong, that You are strong enough for both of us, as the song says.  We need Your strength, even if it's to be able to feel for another.  We love You Lord and we know You love us.  Your eyes never leave us.  Thank You Father.  It's in Your Son's name that I pray, who is no stranger to suffering.  Amen"

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Why Celebrate?…Easter

"He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay."  Matthew 28:6

Happy Easter!  As you begin your celebration with family and friends, I thought I would write one more time this week :) I hope you enjoyed this journey following the last days of Jesus on earth.  Today, let's talk about what this was all for.  Enjoy this beautiful day!

So this Jesus, when He was 33 years old, after 3 years of ministry, was taken to be crucified.  He suffered on the cross for 3 hours and died, from what I have been told, at 3:00.  He gave up His spirit and died which brought forward the 3rd part of the trinity.  We talked 3 days ago and I said that wasn't the end of the story.  Well, here is what it all comes down to.  

On the 3rd day, Mary Magdelene and the other Mary went to the burial site but the stone was rolled away from the tomb (Matthew 28:1).  Jesus was not there!  They found an empty tomb with burial cloth and realized that is alive, He came back to life!  He conquered death!  But all of that was not for nothing.  The bible tells us that we are of sin.  It's not that I'm telling you that you did something wrong to allow it, I am telling you that it's what we are made of.  It would be like telling a latté that it is not made of coffee.  We are born of it and from it.  

God, who is holy, cannot even look on sin.  He must be removed from it, like we learned this week.  Back in the old testament  God would require a perfect spotless lamb to be sacrificed   It was the shedding of blood from that perfect lamb that would clear the sin away, but as soon as the people left the spot that they would sacrifice, they would sin again.  I know I do that all the time, as soon as I go to God with my repentance, I find myself saying or doing the same thing again…ooops.  Isn't it nice to know your not alone.  Anyway, so with our eternal sin problem, God made a way to have communion with us messy sinners, He supplied His own perfect, spotless lamb, Jesus.  

This week, we learned how Jesus lived, how He taught and how He died.  Today we learn How He rose again.  I pray that your eyes are opened to see this truth and that you place your faith in Jesus.  I pray that you enjoy this Easter with your friends and family.  I pray you have great conversations and that you have grace to share with those sandpaper people at your table.  I thank God for the focus to write all week and am so glad you joined me in these pages.

In light of all of the number 3's thrown around, I have 3 questions for you:

1) Do you believe?  Do you believe that Jesus is the Son of God?  Do you believe that He rose from the dead?  That He did this just for you so that you can spend eternity with Him in heaven?

2) Do you trust Him?  Have you placed your faith in the fact that without this trust, we will spend eternity in hell? 

3) If you answered no to questions 1 or 2, why celebrate Easter?



Friday, April 18, 2014

Why Celebrate?…Good Friday

but Jesus said to him, “Judas, would you betray the Son of Man with a kiss?” Luke 22:46 

Here we are on Good Friday.  Kind of an oxymoron if you ask me, but I guess when we really think about it, if this day did not happen, we would all spend an eternity in hell.  Bottom line, we are human and we will fail!  God knew this, which is why He sent His Son to be the sacrifice.  He took our place on the cross and when we put our faith in that truth alone, we are part of His eternal kingdom.

I remember when we were young, my mom would not let us speak for three hours on Good Friday.  She would tell us that we had to think about what Jesus went through during that time.  When I remember that silence, not in reflection mind you, simply to eliminate punishment, I think of the game of chess.  My dad had a marble chess board with beautifully sculpted ivory and ebony pieces.  As I think on the events of Good Friday, I think of that chess board.  An interesting game, chess.  A whole lot going on, moving, thinking, scheming, sounds so much like the last days of Jesus on earth.

There are a few characters in a chess game.  Some of them are displayed throughout this story.  We have two kings.  One on one end of the board, the king of darkness, who is the devil and on the other end, Jesus, the King of light.  There are pawns on both sides.  The ivory ones total 12 disciples as well as some others that sat under Jesus’ teachings.  The ebony, appears to be in short demand, hosting chief priests, scribes and elders.  Pontius Pilate appears to be on the ivory side at first.  The game unfolds, there are good men and there are bad men.  It’s simple, the good men follow Jesus all the time, right?  Wrong!  As we read, we will see that sometimes the colors can change, the game can and will change forever.

At the Passover meal, Jesus explains to the men that His time was coming.  He tells Peter that Satan has asked to sift him as wheat.  I love Peter, he reminds me of myself, so zealous, yet sometimes clueless.  He swears that he will stand strong, telling Jesus that everyone else's faith may fail, but not his.  Move those ivory pawns up one space each.

  After dinner, Jesus heads toward Mt. Olive to pray.  His disciples follow him.  Jesus asks them to stop and pray that they will not give into temptation.  He slips away to have a word with The Father.  Luke tells us that there was an angel there giving Him strength.  His prayers were so intense that He began to sweat blood.  When He went back to His disciples, He found them asleep.  He asked them again to pray that they would not give into temptation.  But again, they fell asleep.  Let’s move our ivory pawns right back.

Up walks the crowd with Judas, who greets Jesus with words of betrayal.  “Greetings, Rabbi!” And he kissed him.  It wasn’t bad enough that he would betray Jesus.  It wasn’t even bad enough that he would identify Him by a kiss, but Judas insulted Him by calling Him teacher, identifying Him as one who teaches the truth.  At this point we can remove one ivory pawn and move the ebony king forward.  

According to Luke 22:51, Peter, our overzealous friend, gets all fired up and pulls his sword out.  He cuts one of the priests ears off, to which Jesus yells “No more of this!”  Let’s move an ivory pawn a couple forward for that one.  At this point the game seems to be moving slowly, though the king of darkness has made ground, there is still control of the board on the ivory side.

After Jesus is taken into custody, His men do what any frightened accomplice would do, run.  They scattered about, leaving Jesus to His captors.  Peter, our man of faith, found himself by a fire, a girl calls out “This man also was with him.” says verse 56.  Two other times, Peter is asked if he knows this Jesus and two other times, three total, Peter denies it!  After hearing the rooster crow, Peter realizes he fell into temptation.  Oh, if only he would have stayed awake to pray.  Let’s remove an ivory pawn and move forward an ebony one.

Meanwhile, in Matthew 27, Judas realizes what he has done and takes the money back to the elders and chief priests.  He tells them he was wrong and that Jesus was innocent, but it was too late.  The men had their hands on Jesus and they weren’t about to release Him.  Judas leaves the coins and hangs himself out of disgust for his own flesh.   Let’s remove an ebony pawn for him.  Wow this game is getting interesting.

Here is where it gets tough.  Back to Luke 22 beginning in verse 63, it tells us that the ones who arrested Jesus beat Him and mocked Him.  They would blindfold Him and punch Him in the face, telling Him “Prophecy!  Who is it that struck you?”  I can just see the ebony pawns moving forward, one by one.

They bring Jesus before Pontius Pilate.  He cannot find any wrong done by Him.  Even after they give him their complaint, he dismisses him to Harrod.  He  and his men treated Jesus with contempt and mocked Him.  They sent Him back to Pilate who still refuses to find fault.  He proposed that they beat Jesus and let Him go, however the crowds did not like this and they began to scream “Crucify, crucify him!” in Luke 23:21  

They demanded Barabbas be released instead.  The ebony pieces begin to close in on the ivory side as Pilate caves and says “I am innocent of this man’s blood; see to it yourselves.” per Matthew 27:24.  Though Pilate did not find fault in Jesus, he held his god of people pleasing higher than the God of eternity.

From there, the bible tells us that they gathered a whole battalion before Him.  They put a scarlet robe on Him and gave Him a crown of twisted thorns.  They gave Him a reed to hold and shouted things like “Hail, King of the Jews!” then hitting Him with that very reed.  They did unthinkable things like spit on him as they made Him carry His own cross, beating Him all they way to the top of the mount.

As He was nailed or crucified, they yelled things like “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!”  They cast lots on His clothing and laughed as they humiliated Him.  At this point even the ivory pawns are starting to look ebony.   But this is where the game changes, Jesus speaks!  He tells John to look after His mother and tells His mother that John will now be her son.  The ivory King moves forward.

As Jesus loses breath, His back flat against the rough wood, He pulls up on His wrists in order to get enough air to speak.  Growing tired, He speaks again.  Luke 23:34 “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”  You see Jesus knew that the commotion going on was all at the hand of the devil.  These men would not treat Him this way if they knew who He truly was.  Let’s move that ivory King forward again.

There were two criminals on either side of Jesus.  Both were having fun with the crowd, yelling things at Jesus, mocking Him.  But something happens, one of them speaks.  “Are you not the Christ?  Save yourself and us!”  The opposite criminal mocks, now, Jesus and the criminal.  As the winds change, the once ebony pawn becomes pure white as he says “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”

These words of belief give Jesus the energy to pull Himself up enough to speak again.  Luke 23:43 Jesus says “Truly I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”  Death begins to encompass the King, He begins to feel the separation from His Father, who cannot look on sin.  He cries out with all He has “My God, My God, why have You forsaken me?”  

You see hell is simply the separation from God.  It’s an eternal thirst and hunger.  It is the lack of satisfaction and a never ending pain.  Like an itch on your body that is numb, you can never scratch it because you can’t feel it, yet you feel the itch that you cannot stop thinking about.  Jesus felt that empty longing feeling for His Father.  The chess board looks more grim than ever at this point, there is a whisper from the enemy “check”.  Believing he won the game, I believe he begins to celebrate, even Jesus questions God!  In John 19:28, Jesus says “I thirst”.

One of the Soldiers gives Jesus a sip of sour wine that they put a hyssop branch with a sponge to his mouth.  Do you remember that branch?  The same one used to paint the doorframe with sacrificial blood on the very first Passover.    It seems to be the end of the game, but our Jesus, our King is made stronger in His weakness and He moves forward again as He speaks one final time.

Through the angst in His voice, He pulls up one last time and says “It is finished,” and He bowed His head and gave up His spirit. (John 19:30)  The bible tells us that the men go away beating their chests, assuming the victory.  But of course, in Jesus fashion, it’s not the end of the story.  As death seems to encompass the region and darkness appears to fall.  There is a wind that comes from the direction of heaven.  If you listen closely you can hear it.  It’s the sound of Jesus whispering “Check mate!”


Let’s pray:  “Lord,we thank You that this is not a game!  We thank You for being victory.  This road that Your Son walked makes me physically sick, I cannot imagine how it makes You feel.  God, You created this world.  It’s hard to believe the suffering that You had to endure, via Your Son.  God we sit here thankful that in less than 100 hours, we get to celebrate a resurrection.  A life from death.  Your Son came back to life and lives and today!  As I read this story I see that You allowed Peter to walk his story so that we can fight the urge to deny You when others are speaking against You.  I see that You allowed Thomas to doubt so that we don’t have to when our world is falling apart, we can cling to what we know is truth.  I see that You allowed Judas to betray Jesus for thirty coins so that we may know that nothing is worth selling out our faith.  So that we would be aware when we believe we deserve prosperity or health for our faith.  We understand that we are no different than those men.  We thank You for making us strong in our weakness and for helping us to remain victorious.  Lord, thank You for allowing us to live in eternity with You.  It doesn’t make sense that Your perfect, righteous, blameless, spotless Son would take my place, but I am so humbled and thankful that I cannot help but follow You!  We thank You for the tears, because without them, there would be no joy!  It’s in Your Sons name that I ask these things.  Amen”