Over this Lenten season, the Spiritual Formation team at First Presbyterian Church in Bend put a call out to all to submit writings for a Lenten Devotional. I will do my best to post those here daily. You can also go to our website and access all of the devotions on a pdf file.
Here is the next submission:
Nothing Is Outside His Love
It is a bittersweet business, the tending of the dead. Life narrows tunnel-like when grief consumes us. We look with hollow eyes and do not see the light, the love, which shines unnoticed upon us. Failure and loss arrive in many shades and hues. We like to compare or contrast, to diminish our exposure. We seek reason or alibis where none exist. We contract, resistant to exploring the contours of our pain. Closing around injuries we become immobile. Till in weariness we release and leaning into the loss we discover that we have never been alone.
Loss is a timeless event, one that echoes across the pages of our lives. It casts new pigment, a new shade, into the clay of our being. It is in these broken places, these cracks in what we would hold as the concrete certainties of our lives, that God plants new life, new hope. Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus tended to Jesus’ body. They could not have known that his death was a beginning beyond all understanding. Perhaps it is better that they did not know, because loss must be grieved. What they knew, what they tended to, was loss.
As the process of loss deepens, we learn to lean into the pain, to discover the light that shines even in our darkest moments. The reassurance that we are never really alone sounds hollow and feeble when the presence of love cannot be felt. Yet we are told that if we can trust, if we can continue to reach out, someone will take our hand. We rest on a strength that is not our own and this is our hope. God meets us in the broken places, in the darkness. When we harden our hearts and fail to see the grace that surrounds us we are twice broken. In finding that place where we can release our fearsome grip on what we wish could have been we find that God’s grace, His love, is so all encompassing that nothing is outside of it. We have only to accept what is given, to surrender into His grace, to find that we are never left comfortless.
You are my rock and my shield
In you are my comfort and my peace
You hear me when I cry out
In my distress I wrap the cloak of your comfort around.