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by davesandel on April 10th, 2012

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Easter Tuesday

John 20:17

Jesus said to Mary Magdalene, “Stop holding on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father.  But go to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am going to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’

Mary probably didn’t know how tight her hands were on Jesus.  Like a panicked swimmer grabs the lifeguard, she was holding on for dear life.  Jesus cast out the seven demons that had almost ruined her life.  She loved him with all her heart.

Jesus spoke gently.  He loved her too.  She was precious to him as well as to their Father.  And yet her grip on him could not save her life.  Like the lifeguard, who often dives below the panicky victim to get behind him, Jesus had to protect Mary from herself, from her desperation and idolatry.

I’m not sure I understand this.  Jesus, as God, is not an idol.  Can I idolize God and in doing so somehow separate myself from Him?

Perhaps this is what happens:  I often imagine and create my experience of God “in my own image.”  That of course is turning the tables on Creator God, who says He made me “in his own image.”  I believe what God says, but …  Could we both be creating in this relationship?

Yes.  But timing is everything.  God creates me, and, being made in his image as creator, I create as well.  But at first I confuse what I can do with what I can’t.  And without knowing it, I begin to shape God according to the gospel of me.

God is patient, but this just will not do.  In fact if he leaves me to myself, it will kill me.  So over time – over my lifetime – God helps me shed my own concepts and images about Him and frees me to just Be With Him.  He is not damaged by my mostly childish confusion about who makes who, and I am blessed beyond measure as He turns me into the man He made me to be.

But even in the blessing, Mary’s pain becomes mine.  I don’t want to let go of Jesus, not my Jesus.  He is gentle, he is kind, and he is firm.  He takes my hands and lifts them up, and tells me, “Wait.

“Look at what I am doing, David.  Don’t do anything; just watch.  You don’t need to hold on so tight; I’ve got you and won’t let you go.  Let me do this.”

Such a difference, then.  When I’m holding tight, I get enmeshed with Jesus and lose any sense of who either of us is.  I don’t know myself and  I really don’t know Jesus, either.  But as I let go and discover the strength of his hands, sometimes I see myself the way he sees me.  The fog lifts.  I feel God’s love for me well up inside me.   Jesus smiles and whispers confidently in my ear.  “What’s not to love?”

It’s strange to want to ask you, Jesus: Can I trust you to hold me?  Trust your confidence in my goodness, in your creation?  Of course I trust you.  But holding on so tight, my fear puts those words to the lie.  I believe, Lord.  Help my unbelief.  Warm my hands, which suddenly seem so empty.  Breathe on them, Holy Spirit.  Warm them with your love.

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