Posted by: pmarkrobb | April 9, 2023

while it was still dark

In the moments just before the first words of this year’s Holy Week writing began to flow, I knew today’s would be a copy and paste. Before God began forming new words in my mind, He whispered some old ones into the ears of my heart. I see now that was an intentional gift given specifically for a unique experience I’ve had in writing this year – an abiding mindfulness of those who would read and the burdens that weigh heavily on them. And so, I offer these beloved words from a past Resurrection Day writing. He is Risen, my dear brother and sister! I pray you are encouraged this morning as you read on.

At 1:11pm on April 15th, 2017 my entire mindset relative to Easter morning shifted. I had sat down to write about Resurrection Day, and I prayed. “Father, help me see Jesus more truly and completely in writing today. Please show me as I read.” I opened John’s gospel to chapter twenty and began reading his Resurrection account …

Early on Sunday morning, while it was still dark,
Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and found that
the stone had been rolled away from the entrance.
John 20:1 (NLT)

I stopped dead in my tracks at the period that ends verse one. Wait … did I just read that right?! No way! While it was still dark?! Mary arrived at the tomb and found the stone had been rolled away while it was still dark?! In all the years I have been writing about Resurrection morning, the hope and promise (and resurrection itself) were all associated with the breaking of the dawn. The bright, brilliant Light bursts forth and ends the darkness! But that’s not what happened, and that’s not what happens in our own lives. In so many ways, our lives echo the truth of “while it was still dark.” At the moment of genuine belief, faith and salvation, the Light does not forever displace the darkness. There are many reading today who persist in faith yet are deeply entrenched in a season of darkness. They are waiting and praying for the bright, brilliant light to break, or perhaps they’ve experienced a temporal victory of the darkness — maybe a time(s) when their prayers for another’s healing were answered on the other side of eternity, not in the here and now. If Jesus’ resurrection waited until after sunrise; if His power over sin and death in this life were only true after dawn had broken, then what do we do when ours hasn’t? What do we do when the clouds in our season of suffering obscure the sunrise that we know has happened, but that we can’t see?

I LOVE the discovery (after so many years of reading the story) that Mary found the stone rolled away while it was still dark. I SO see Jesus walking out of the tomb into the darkness that will hold sway over this world until He visits it again. I see the intention. I hear Him having a conversation with the darkness. I hear Him having a conversation with mine.

Jesus broke the power of death forever in waking and walking out of the tomb. Just as He does not manipulate our choices, He has not forever displaced the darkness with light … YET. If, this morning, you woke again to your own darkness; if, today, you do not see the sunrise that everyone around you seems to see … know this! Jesus rose again into the darkness. He has forever conquered it, but He rose again into it.

Jesus didn’t wait for dawn to break. You can trust Him when yours hasn’t broken yet either. Hold on. Take Heart. Trust. Cast your worries, burdens, failings, false hopes, resolve, promises to never do that again, and anger on Him. And in the casting, find that it is all part of the “stuff” He became and then paid for on the cross a couple of days ago. I pray you experience the bright, brilliant Light today. I pray that you feel the warmth of the Son on your face. But even if you don’t … take heart! He is Risen, and sin and death have no power over you anymore!

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