As I drove home from work one night last October, my husband called me. "Jen, how close are you? You need to hurry. It's getting rough." We'd had several tornados come through our parish that afternoon, but I'd left for home after a break in a storm, thinking the worst was over. It hadn't begun.
Phil told me there was a new tornado in our area. As soon as he said this, a massive burst of wind hit my car, pushing it out of it's lane. Rain began to pound so heavily, I could barely see the road. I fought my way to a nearby school two miles from my house, and pulled next to the building. Lightning struck the ground repeatedly, unlike anything I had ever seen. The thunder raged, and my car began to shake in the wind.
I was terrified. And I realized that I was witnessing the fury of a world gone wrong.
After several long minutes, the wind and rain eased, and I was able to drive the two miles to my house, barely ahead of the floodwaters washing over the road that night. I lifted my hands in praise to God when I made it through the door.
In Genesis, God tells us when he created the world, it was good. At that time, there were no torndos, earthquakes, fires, sicknesses, heartbreak, or death. And God walked the earth with man.
Can you envision such a place? Complete peace, perfect health, endless energy, and no knowledge of pain or sorrow. I truly cannot fathom it. This life is so difficult! But that is how God intended it when He made this world -- happy and at one with Him.
Then the enemy brought the darkness. He, who wanted to be God but failed, desired to bring God's creation into despair with him. He told Adam he could be like God, in control of his own destiny. Man believed the lie.... and I nearly ended up tornado rubble.
There is true horror in the fall. In Romans 8:22, we are told, "We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time." The tsnunamis and hurricanes we saw at the beginning of the decade made many question, "Why?" The earthquake in Haiti left so many orphans and homeless. A broken marriage, a crippling car wreck, war, a miscarriage... we know the pain.
All around us, people are deeply hurting. Many feel hopeless, helpless, and empty. Each terrible event leaves us longing for what should have been and appalled by what is. We see the difference, and it is sickening.
Oh, if Eve hadn't eaten that apple! Right? Surely none of us would have believed the devil's lie and wanted to become like God. Surely we'd have had enough sense to know we had a good thing going and would not want to ruin it. The ugly truth is, we all believed the lie at some point in our lives. In some way, we have each tried to be like God and have told him we no longer need Him because we wanted to do it our way instead. We have all sinned. We each carry the darkness with us.
Thankfully, God sent his son, Jesus, the Word made flesh, to bear ours sins. The sinless creator chose to become a man and to be our replacement, suffering and dying so our sins could be forgiven. He defeated death, rising from the grave after three days. He is the light that banishes the darkness. He is the water that brings eternal life. Though in this life our bodies still must die, Jesus gives us new, ressurected bodies like his, so we can live with him forever. As one with God again, intended from the beginning. If we are willing to admit our sin and turn to Him.
I hate sin.
Two weeks ago, I watched my mother die. After battling cancer for many years, cancer that crippled her young body and impaired her mind, she died. Each cancer milestone we faced left me nauseated. Milestones like new brain tumors, necrosis, the end of treatments, and hospice. This woman with tremendous talents and dreams, who hadn't yet seen grandchildren born, was taken from this world.
As she lay dying, braving seizures and confusion, I saw the war clearly. I could see how the enemy delights in our suffering, how he relishes the death that tears our hearts apart. But I also saw the faithfulness and comfort of God as Mama weakened in those last hours.
She praised God. She prayed. And she told Him she loved Him. Throughout her entire battle, she remained happy and trusting, telling everyone how good God was to her. So when she took her final breath, I saw the victory the Bible mentions so often. Though the enemy brought sin and death into the world, Jesus brought new life. Her last hours were peaceful, quiet, and she went without struggle into the arms of her Lord.
I am so thankful Jesus has my Mama now. I'm so thankful for what he went through for her. Each time he was slapped, he took away her shame. Each lash the whips cut into him took away her pain. Each nail that tore through his hands took away her sin, and each drop of blood washed away her guilt. As she trusted in him throughout her life, he gave her peace in her salvation.
He did the same for me. And for you. And for everyone who has ever committed their lives to him. Death truly is swallowed up in victory. Jesus won the war.
Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned— for before the law was given, sin was in the world. But sin is not taken into account when there is no law. Nevertheless, death reigned from the time of Adam to the time of Moses, even over those who did not sin by breaking a command, as did Adam, who was a pattern of the one to come. But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God's grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many... just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. ~ Romans Romans 5:12-21
I declare to you, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: "Death has been swallowed up in victory." "Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?"The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. ~ 1 Corinthians 15:50-57
Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. ~ Matthew 25:33
March 14, 2010
Jen Booth is a social worker and a budding author. She resides with her husband in Louisiana. You can contact her at [email protected].