Why Seek Ye the Living among the Dead?
By Bill Shurkey
"Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here but is risen." (Luke 24:5,6 KJV)
The women were certain they knew where to find Jesus. They went expecting to find him – but he wasn't there. How many of us today look for Christ in the wrong places and in doing so never see him in the places where he really is?
I heard a story many years ago of an intoxicated gentleman who late one night was seen by a police officer to be groping on his hands and knees under a street light. The policeman walked up to the man and demanded to know what he was doing.
"I'm looking for the quarter I dropped," he replied in a slurred voice.
The police officer started to help. "Where about did you drop it?"
The man pointed down the street. "About half way down the block," he said.
"Then why are you looking for it here?"
The man looked at the police officer in amazement. "Because," he said, "the light's better here."
The Church has a history of running after Christ wherever and whenever she thinks the light's brighter. We've traveled to Toronto and Pensacola. We've chased Marian apparitions and gold dust. And we've church-hopped at the slightest move of the Spirit in another. In our excitement of 'finding' Christ, we often lose sight of an important fact. We aren't supposed to follow after signs and wonders – signs and wonders are supposed to follow after us.
Each of us can have as much of Christ as we need and none of us has more of him then another.
The key to finding Christ is to look for him in the right place. The starting place for each of us is on our knees before the cross. Without the blood there can be no redemption and without redemption there can be no resurrection. If there's no resurrection, then as Paul says, "your faith is also in vain" (I Cor. 15:14).
But those of us who believe know Christ is real and that he lives. We've felt him, heard him, and seen him. The key to finding Christ again is to get back on our knees. The closer we draw to him, the closer he will draw to us. Yelling, screaming, jumping and running may be fine if you're taking a Christian aerobics class, but Christ is in the still, small voice … the one best heard in our prayer closet.
A few years ago a popular book was published called "The God Chasers". It is a good book and worth the read but it made me realize an important truth that the book didn't address. If we spent half as much time in prayer as we spent in personal pursuits, we wouldn't have to chase God at all. He'd chase us.
Easter is a yearly celebration of the resurrection we have through Christ. It's a time for renewal. The words, "He is alive!" should make our spirits soar and our hearts rejoice because no other single life has done so much. Our relationship with Christ begins at Calvary and is meant to last forever. Let's remember the sacrifice this Good Friday, and celebrate our victory over death this Easter. Then let's spend our remaining days in constant spiritual renewal. If we'll do that it won't matter whether the rhythm of our lives has us in the valley or on the mountaintop or somewhere in between. When Christ is woven into each day through prayer, the fabric of our life can easily stand the test of time.
This month's offering shows Christ in several roles. He's shown in his humanity. He's seen as the sacrificial lamb and he's also seen as the obedient son. A final poem reflects on what life would be like without a savior. In whatever role you see Christ this Easter, let's not lose sight of his most important role – He is our redeemer and He lives!
The Fly in the Ointment
By Bill Shurkey
It was near dusk when I slipped through the crowd
and ducked into a darkened alley. I leaned heavily
against a wall waiting for the people to hurry by.
They were calling out my name but I didn't answer.
I would see many of them again tomorrow about noon.
My body ached from too much walking. Or was it
the ride into the city? The back of an ass isn't the
most comfortable ride, after all. I hurried as best I could
to the house. It lay in shadows except for light from
the guest chamber windows. I could hear the men laughing
and joking inside, as if they didn't have a care in the world.
I started up the stairs, one bone-weary step at a time.
The rough timber of the railing, under my hand, felt familiar.
I could tell it was newly constructed and well built.
It would last as long as the city did. Ah, this city! My city!
If only you had loved me like I love you. One day the very
stones will cry out in judgment against you.
Is it really so hard to love?
I rested on a step halfway up and listened to the
night sounds I had grown familiar with.
I wiped my eyes on my sleeve and continued to climb.
I was exhausted and wanted only to rest but I knew I couldn't.
They were waiting for me inside. My hour truly had come.
The meal was ready and I was hungry. Yet it was
to be more than a meal. It was an act of love. A lesson.
My farewell. These were my friends, my brothers.
I had been close to them for three years.
Yet I could see in their eyes, some still didn't understand
why I came.
"My body must be broken," I said, "and you must eat.
My blood must be spilled and you must drink this cup.
As often as you do it, you will remember me. Remember me often.
"If you desire greatness," I told them, "be a servant.
Honor lies in the dust and dung heaps of humanity,
not in palaces made by the hands of men."
I watched Peter. He only half-listened.
His eyes were fixed on the fly, as it circled the room.
He tried to kill it once, twice, three times.
The pest only buzzed away and circled the room again.
Peter gave up in frustration.
The fly flew at me. Buzzed my hands and my feet.
It circled my head once and then flew out the open window.
The door slammed closed behind me and my brothers shifted
uneasily in their seats. I suddenly felt nauseated;
a cold sweat trickled down my back.
My work here in this upper room was over.
After tonight, nothing would ever be the same.
I rose slowly to my feet and blessed the eleven.
I had to go now. I was meeting a friend in the garden
and I couldn't be late.
Bill Shurkey is the editor of The Rhythm of Life. He has published over 100 poems in various publications, as well as short fiction, short nonfiction and a nonfiction book. His two passions are poetry and teaching children through fantasy and humor.
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