This week is so full of good things! Namely, tomorrow we have free lunch at the Wesley Foundation. I’m cooking 5 way Cincinnati Chilli. Yay!!!! You can look the event up on Facebook (Wednesday @ Wesley) and let me know if you plan to come or not. Also this week on Thursday night we will introduce officer elections for the Wesley Foundation. If you are interested in being a part of our leadership, you should definitely be there. I also want to remind you that the deadline for applying for the Wesley Foundation Leadership Scholarship is coming up on April 15th. Remember, on Thursday we eat at 6:30, always free and really good. And then we have our program at 7:30pm. This week we will look at Paul’s strongest words of encouragement to young adults. Yes, Paul was a campus minister. Who knew?
Now For Sami’s Ramblings About Jesus:
The daffodils are blooming outside the Wesley Foundation. These are the first flowers I ever noticed as a child. I remember being in grade school and seeing other students bringing fistfuls of daffodils to the teacher. The stems were always wrapped in wet paper towels and aluminum foil. And yet they were still so pretty. Later on in my life I recall the long line of daffodils making a pretty trail in our back yard all the way down to the water’s edge of the lake behind our house. I marveled at how year after year those pretty little flowers would return without any kind of keeping. They would just always show up heralding the onset of spring.
It tickles me to see them growing at the Wesley Foundation. A couple of years ago we had a work day and did some landscaping. Because I wanted a clean look to the front yard, I told the guys who were weeding to go ahead and pull them out too. My Board chair at the time looked at me like I was crazy (love you Woody!), but pulled them out anyway. God really has a sense of humor, because here they are again, fully in bloom, and beautiful as ever. This to me is Easter.
How powerfully the resurrection speaks to my own life, but how difficult it is to write about sometimes. Last week I tried, and couldn’t. I think it is because I received news that a child I had been praying for had died from Leukemia, just three years old. I had been and continue to pray for this sweet boy’s mama. And somehow I couldn’t find the words to articulate the hope of Easter while staring such heartache in the face. I guess it’s because it touches so keenly my own heartache of seeing my little boy in a hospital room. He is fine and healthy now, but the pain of that moment lingers. And I cannot speak glibly of Easter when a mother has experienced the kind of loss that I shudder to consider.
But last week there were no daffodils. Today there are. And they remind me of the resiliency of hope, and the tenderness of God who brings it. The ground of our lives may be bare, stripped of everything we associate with life, but that is no sign that our lives are barren. Even when the unthinkable strips our hearts clean of joy and beauty, God is ever waiting to bring us back to life, back to joy, back to our own souls that are well watered and loved and tended with grace. The ground of our lives is Him, and as we are rooted and grounded in Him, though everything on the surface can be taken from us, that which holds us fast cannot be touched.
I love the scripture that says, “I pray that, according to the riches of his glory, he may grant that you may be strengthened in your inner being with power through his Spirit, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in love” (Ephesians 3:16-17). Yes, as we are rooted and grounded in love, in the One who is Love, then we are safe from the storms that assail our hearts. I know that so many of you face all kinds of storms, the kind that rob you of peace and joy. I know there are struggles that demand your all, and on some days demand more than your all. I know that there are situations you face that seem impervious to any solution. But the message of Easter I would speak into your storm, your struggle, your hopeless situation is that God is holding you fast, and God is bigger than your storm, bigger than your struggle, and bigger than your situations. Just the moment you think all hope is lost, God begins to do a new thing and a small sprout of new life pokes up its head. In the miracle that is God something so tender is still so tenacious and cannot be denied, ever, at all. This is the power of the cross and resurrection. This is the promise of the empty grave and an ascended Savior. Death has no hold on our King.
For this young mother who has lost her precious child to death I would say that God’s love is watering the tender places of her heart with hope. And with the gentleness of time, she will see the tender shoots of life spring up within her. It will not deny or degrade her pain, but it will transform it into the fertile soil of God’s tender consolation and a place of sweet beauty. Of course she will see her son again. But in the meantime she will have the heart of Christ beating within her when her own heart is too battered to feel anything. And she will have the tears of strangers watering her life as well: those who are holding her in a place of love, beyond words, beyond cures, beyond easy answers, joining with the One Love that knows her by name and never lets her go.
I want to close with the words of William Wordsworth, a poem written in 1804:
I WANDER'D lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.
Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the Milky Way,
They stretch'd in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.
The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazed -- and gazed -- but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:
For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.
WKU Wesley Foundation
United Methodist Campus Ministry