I don't know where you currently are, but in Houston, TX it is an absolutely beautiful day!
During this Lenten season, I've learned so much. I also messed up so much, but I choose not to focus on the latter! It seems so much has happened during the this season. One of the most shaking things for me was the death of Ermias Asghedom (aka Nipsey Hussle). Although I was somewhat familiar with what he did (rap), I was not familiar with who he was (the person). I guess I had assumed that his music probably wasn't for me based on appearances. After his death, I took time to really see who he was through the many interviews he had done along with his music and documentaries. My heart was even more greatly sadden, once I learned more about him. As the week went on, I couldn't understand why I was more and more sadden but his passing. It felt like I really knew him and I just had what seemed like this weight on my heart. But as I would later read on the Sunday after, compassion literally means "to suffer with."
The day after his memorial (Friday), I decided to go to church and I remember as I was driving there I was just speaking with Jesus like "Lord please take this from me, I'm soo deeply sadden and burdoned." After the service or Stations of the Cross (which follows Jesus steps to crucifixion), I sat in church for a while and kept reading one particular reading that I just had heard during the stations which is from John 12:24 "Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds." That verse seemed to give me peace as I reflected on Jesus and how God can use even tragedy, that humans choose, like the death of Nipsey for some kind of good because in his death, there was a rising of unification.
As I sat quietly in church, I also kept thinking of the scripture when Jesus was on the cross. On each side of Him, was a thief of some sort. One taunts Jesus about saying "Are You not the Messiah? Save Yourself and us." (Luke 23:39). However, the other seems to pour out from his heart asking not to be removed from the cross but to be remembered by stating "We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong. Then he said, Jesus, remember me when You come into Your kingdom." (Like 23:41-42). Jesus then went on to reply "Amen, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise." This immediately gave me much comfort, peace and relief. On Sunday, that gospel reading was read as the day was celebrated as 'Passion Sunday.' As the gospel was read, I began to really have a new perspective or revelation. To me, the reading showed Jesus compassion, when He stated "You will be with Me in Paradise." It also showed me just how JESUS can see the heart NOT US. It showed me that I can become so comfortable in my churchy routine that I forget to LOVE as I am out in the world. Jesus hung out with EVERYBODY, I mean EH-REE-BODY! We are not to discriminate because at the end of the day, all we see is what we see or what we choose to see, yet Jesus sees all and knows the trueness of a person. We should never get too comfortable to where we think that we are so holy and untouchable or that heaven is only for people that look like us. Truth is, we may be shocked to know just how diverse God's kingdom is. I can't even imagine and yet how beautiful is that! Jesus can be in the church and in the hood! He is all over and loves all! He is where we can't even fathom. "FOR MY THOUGHTS ARE NOT YOUR THOUGHTS, NEITHER ARE YOUR WAYS MY WAYS SAYS THE LORD." (ISAIAH 55:8-9). So all we should do is our best to love. Jesus reiterated throughout the gospels the importance of simply LOVING OTHERS. For His love was action through connection with all He encountered. For us, to love means we don't try to fix, or try to change, or try to make others change to what we think they should be. To love means simply to love. No matter the difference, the residence, or geographic location, we are to choose love! For change can happen because of love through Christ.
Lastly, during this Lenten season, I kept coming across the word 'rise' along with a friend. On today and also last night at church, I came to the understanding during prayer of the meaning of that word! Today we celebrate the rising of Jesus! Let us too rise where ever we are to be more connected to Christ through relationship so that we can in turn make connections with others in this world. Let's teach others to rise as Christ has taught us! "And when you turn back, strengthen your brothers." (Luke 22:32). I believe that Nipsey got this basic understanding as is evidence of the many lives he was able to touch and help through his actions and his businesses. Let us too imitate Jesus by rising and helping one another, for there is power through Christ in unity.
Lately I've been choosing to rise as opportunities arise by getting out of my comfort zone and making connections with others beyond my normal circle. It hasn't been easy, but change doesn't happen much in comfort! How will you choose to rise?
Thank You Jesus for your obedience and rising always for us!