Why are you crying? God asks each one of us this question.

Are you aware of the tears in your life? Is there some hidden grief or pain that you have not worked through?
Do your tears flow freely or are they hidden away in a secret room of your heart?
Whether they roll down your cheeks, or remain bottled up inside, your tears may reflect any number of things.
They may indicate the grief over the death of a dearly loved person, the break up of a special relationship, the betrayal of a close friend, a deep disappointment, the loss of a business, or an unmet longing that is sometimes too painful for you to even name.
The good news is that our tears do not always have to end in sadness.
They can lead us towards healing and growth and new beginnings.
They can open our eyes to angelic presences, human and divine, all around us.
They can make our hearts more receptive to a deeper experience of God.
They can become the means by which our whole lives are profoundly transformed.

Jesus asks Mary Magdalene in the garden on Easter Sunday morning, “Why are you crying?”
This question began a new journey for Mary both into and through her pain.
If we are willing to grapple with this same questions, something similar can happen for us too.
Jesus question to Mary tells us that our tears are okay.
Tears reflect our vulnerability, our fallibility and our fragility!
Jesus accepted her tears and reached out to her in her need.
Many of us feel uncomfortable with our tears. We regard them as a sign of weakness.
We try to hide them even when our hearts are breaking.

Has your heart become so hardened that you have forgotten how to cry?
Allow Jesus question to Mary to help you to remember.
Learning to cry again could bring about the beginnings of a new journey towards wholeness.
Our tears put us in touch with our pain. They help us to know where we are hurting.
Perhaps you need to face the story behind your tears? have you examined your pain?
Have you put words to your sorrow? Have you allowed your tears to find their voice?
We can do this in one of 2 ways:
First is there someone with whom you feel safe who could become your “wailing wall”?
A counsellor, a psychiatrist, a close friend or a family member?
Secondly you can share your tears with God. Speak aloud to God about the painful things you are going through.
Something healing and life-giving happens when we share our tears not just with God but also with people.
Every time we take this step there is relief and release. When we have the courage to do this we do not feel so alone any more. We feel closer to one another, we find new intimacy with God and God shares our broken heart and weeps with us in our pain.
Then we are able to move from tears to new beginnings. We can catch fresh glimpses of the newness God wants to give us on the other side of our tears.
Going back to the story of Mary & Jesus, Mary thought that He was a gardener. This garden image is also found in Genesis where God created Adam & Eve and gave them responsibility to care for the garden. But as we know things went horribly wrong.
They chose to live their own way instead of the way God wanted them to live. As a result they lost their place in the garden. Suddenly things like shame, sorrow and separation entered their lives. Paradise was lost and they were forced to live outside the garden which was meant to be their home.
Can you see the links between the 2 stories? Both took place in a garden. Adam was supposed to care for the garden, while Mary mistook Jesus for a gardener. There is a connection between the Garden of Eden and Jesus rising from the dead in the garden. He is the new Adam and He reversed the cause of death & conquered it.
This garden imagery is a powerful reminder that when Jesus met Mary in her tears, He wanted to bring her the resurrection gift of starting over again.
The Risen Christ wants to do the very same for us. In the midst of our tears, He wants to help us to begin again.
He wants us to experience new life and resurrection power. He comes searching for us in our pain, calling us by name and inviting us into a deeper intimacy. Sometimes we do not recognize him when he comes to us.
He comes in the most surprising and unexpected ways. He comes to us through a caring friend, in the beauty of a sunset, during a communion service, while walking in creation, through music, while watching our children, in so many different ways.
In whatever way we experience his resurrection love and power, it will always help us to take another step through our suffering. Allow this garden image to speak to you about new creation, new growth and new possibilities.
It reminds us that Jesus is the new Adam, alive and present throughout the universe, and making all things new.

He is the Risen Christ who seeks out each one of us, wanting the plant the seeds of a new future in the soil of our pain. He comes to replace those thistles and thorns that have torn our lives apart, with the buds and blossoms of a new fruitfulness. He wants to help us move from our tears to new beginnings. He wants to make resurrection and healing a reality in our experience.

Listen to the question coming to you as you stand with Mary weeping in the garden. Why are you crying?
Without resurrection there is no good reason to suppose that you can live beyond your tears. But because of the resurrection you can weep in the hope that God can lead you beyond your tears towards new beginnings. Without this good news, life makes no sense at all.

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The unforced rhythms of grace

Matthew 11:28-30 (The Message)

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

No pressure. No unrealistic expectations. No demands. No bindings. Just an invitation to come into a place of recovery, for learning and for growing.

Made-to-measure living where we can reach our fullest potential.

These are the words of the greatest leader who has ever lived upon planet earth. Unforced. Rhythmic. Gracious.

Briefly, these are my “takeaways” from this:

1) Grace comes in ebbs and flows. We are given blessings and then sometimes they are seemingly taken away, only to be replaced by newer, greater- albeit similar in nature- blessings later on in time. It is a rhythm that cannot be forced.

2) This grace/abundance/blessing comes from Jesus who is full of both grace and truth. It cannot be achieved through purely human effort.

3) The mention of grace and truth together is not accidental- there is a connection. In order to be able to experience fully these waves of grace that are offered to us, and in order to be buoyed through the lulls of grace, we must anchor ourselves to Truth. Not truth with a lowercase “t”-which is the truth of the world as we see it…we must be solidly connected and receiving Truth with a capital “T,” and that kind of truth is not a proposition or a proposal or a set of facts or descriptions about the world- it is a person, the Person of Jesus Christ. We must anchor ourselves “in Christ”.

Do you know the best way to get into shore and keep both nostrils above the waterline when you feel as if you are being pulled out to sea by an undercurrent? It’s to let go, lay back, stop swimming and just float. You let go, always keeping your eyes on the beach, and you let the current push you back in.

And so it is with life. Sometimes we try to force grace. We recognize a promise that God has whispered into our lives, and when that promise doesn’t come into immediate fruition, we panic. We begin a swim toward shore which is nothing more than a lot of thrashing and flailing and we think this will get us into the safety of the sand. But it seems the more we do this, the more exhausted we get, and our efforts begin to feel, surprisingly, counterproductive. That’s because they are. All the effort in the world will not bring about God’s promise of blessing and grace one second earlier than His appointed time.

Learning to “lean into Grace” is one of the most difficult spiritual practices to do, but it is key to being able to experience the authentic trusting life of a Christ-follower.
A friend used to say to me: “God is never late. Always on time- and rarely shows up early.” She was trying to tell me to be patient; to wait upon the Lord; and to not try to force grace’s rhythms. When we attempt to manipulate the rhythms of grace, we end up wrinkling the fabric of time and history. That may sound very esoteric and mystical, but I say this unapologetically. Because Grace is mystical…

Granted to us by the efforts of The Truth, grace is a gift that is simply unachievable through human effort. When we try to do so, we are literally setting ourselves up as gods. Not good. Not a gracious way to live. Not living by faith, through grace. Not helpful, and never profitable.

Forced grace is not grace at all. Today, let God’s grace wash over you like a mighty river, let it carry you where God wills. Rest in it. Bask in it. Learn its unforced rhythms…