Our world of in-between

 

I think I had a mini epiphany this morning, is there such a thing? I am huge fan of the show Scrubs, which is only now shown in syndication but nevertheless it is one of my all time favorites. And every time I hear the word Epiphany I think of the epiphany toilet episode, which guest starred Michael J Fox. There was a toilet on the roof of the hospital and anytime you pooed on it, you had a epiphany. It was Season 3, Episode 13, “My Porcelain God.” If you want to follow this rabbit trail feel free to click this LINK and then THIS LINK. You’ll see what I mean, it’s worth it I promise.

Anyway, back to my mini epiphany, which I will have you know happened over a traditional cup of coffee and not on a toilet, roof or any other kind. At least that’s my story and I am sticking to it. I was reading in John 14 this morning as I work to wrap my heart around this Holy Week. I am trying to know Jesus more through this endeavor. I want to feel a deeper connection with my Savior, to take my knowledge farther away from the academic and closer to the relational.
In John 14 Jesus is in the middle of the passover dinner with his students, the disciples. He covers a lot of ground during this meal, he tells his disciples of his impending death, he fills them in on Judas’ betrayal, he tells them he is leaving them, and he gives them a brief preview of Pentecost, when they will receive the Holy Spirit. But John 14:18 is what really struck me. Jesus said “I will not leave you as orphans.” Huh, as a recently orphaned adult this word jumps off the page at me. For those of you who aren’t orphaned, it feels weird at first. Sort of like the roof has been ripped off, all the sudden all the potential problems and possibilities of adult life hover right above you and there is no buffer between you and them. I know the older you get the less your parents buffer you from life’s struggles, but just knowing they are there is a buffer in and of itself.
So back to Jesus orphaning us, it’s an interesting analogy because just as my parents aren’t in the world, but are in heaven, so is Jesus not on this earth but in heaven. However just as Jesus promised in John 14, he has left us the Holy Spirit to live in us. He says that the holy spirit will be in us and we will know the truth. My parents weren’t deities, far from it just like any other human parent. But I like the idea that what they taught me while they were on this earth helps guide me as I navigate this world without them, just as Jesus left us the spirit to do the same thing. Because my parents were learning from the Spirit of truth, their teachings coincide with his and they work in harmony to continuously direct my adult decisions and feelings. Pretty cool eh? I sincerely love the fact that the bible uses a lot of family metaphors, like father/son, children, and orphan. We can relate to those words, can’t we? God’s pretty good at giving us footholds that we can relate to. He wants us to understand and ingest all this.
Here is the other teaching I take from this verse. Jesus says that he won’t leave us as orphans, that he will come back for us. However, that hasn’t happened yet has it? We are still living in that orphaned state. If you have ever done a lot of reading on theology you may be familiar with the term “Already, not yet.” This phrase is used to describe the fact that God hasALREADY won the battle against death and sin, but it has NOT YET come full circle. Jesus defeated the devil, and death, and pain, but he hasn’t come back to tie it all up yet. Currently the work is up to us, to use the light he put in us to illuminate the world to the hope found in Jesus. And it’s a good idea to let this light shine on our own pain too.
The thing about living in orphaned, already/not yet world is that there is hurt. I think for a long time I have been waiting for the hurts to stop coming and I often sit in wonder that every season of life has hurting. Someone I love is always hurting, sick, confused or broken down. And so my epiphany this morning looked like this. “Duh Leanne, we are living in a broken “not yet” world, pain is going to happen and happen and happen again. We know the hope found in the resurrection of Jesus, but the pain is still here. People still hurt, long, and die. It’s going to keep happening, and God is there to help us and hold us in our orphaned state. When pain happens God isn’t sitting up there sending it, he is holding you and hurting with you, his precious child.
So we live in the in between, and we aren’t really alone at all, we have God’s word, his Holy Spirit, and each other. If he lives in us then we can very really give his light to each other, we can be Jesus to one another, and in that way he’s right here among us. So next time you hurt or your wonder why there is all this pain, know that we live in the in between right now, God isn’t sending all this pain to you, he longs to redeem and restore, but we live in a world of sin. So wherever you are, take hope, know that all this pain will be taken away, the easter season is all about restoration and hope and victory. Can you feel it?