Now when the sixth hour had come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour. And at the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, "Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?" which is translated, "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?"
Some of those who stood by, when they heard that said, "Look, He is calling for Elijah!" Then someone ran and filled a sponge full of sour wine, put it on a reed, and offered it to Him to drink, saying, "Let Him alone; let us see if Elijah will come to take Him down."
And Jesus cried out with a loud voice, and breathed His last.
Then the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. So when the centurion, who stood opposite Him, saw that He cried out like this and breathed His last, he said, "Truly this Man was the son of God!"
10:04 p.m. Today's project was to attend the 12 p.m. Good Friday service at Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside. I haven't attended or served in women's ministry at Harvest for about 10 years, having found a smaller home church, Calvary Chapel Moreno Valley, which very well suited our need for my late husband Steve to be able to meet more friends and be comfortable in a less populous setting. We have really been blessed in our current church, but whenever I attend a service at Harvest, or during Steve's memorial service, I feel right at home. It's no small thing to be part of a fellowship for 22 years, and to raise your family there.
I definitely "followed the crowd" into the sanctuary, where I immediately saw pastors I know. Because I was only about 10 minutes early, it was up two flights of stairs to the balcony for me. This was actually caused fun memories for me, because Steve and I and the kids, once they were mostly past elementary age and children's church, sat in the balcony every week. Our youngest, Steven, liked to sit with us too. I still have a prayer request card he made out when he was in 2nd or 3rd grade, asking God to take away fleas from our dog, (written by the dog). At least he wasn't disturbing anyone! Our kids loved to go to church and as they got older, to youth group. Proverbs 22:6, every Christian parent's verse of hope, says,
Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.
As many parents know, doing our part as led by the Lord, will be rewarded by His faithfulness, though our kids may not walk as consistently as we pray for. I trust Jesus, and I suggest you do too--then leave off anxiety and live your own life for the Lord!
Pastor Greg was his animated and strongly spoken self just as I remembered him preaching all of those Sundays for decades, making his biblical points with firmness, humor and conviction.He went to a theme of showing one's love to others BEFORE they die, as illustrated by Mary pouring the oil of spikenard all over Jesus before His death (Mark 14:3-9). Greg spoke about losing his son 5 years ago, and how he still dreams about him. [This is where I lost it]. The dreams, he said, were the same pattern every time: Greg would be talking and spending time with Christopher, and then Christopher would have to leave. Each time, Greg said, he wakes up thinking it's all right for a fleeting moment, that his son is still alive, then with heart pounding, wakes up in a fright. Pastor Greg explained, "It's because he died suddenly [In a car accident] and I never got to say goodbye."
I just started crying, not for myself, but for the pain of a parent having to go through a tragedy like that; then, I realized how grateful I am that Steve passed peacefully, leaving behind the fear, depression, despair, physical struggles and pain of his last months here on earth. My dreams of Steve, which are fairly regular, are just like they always were: peaceful, enjoyable, the two of us just talking or in a family or friend group, doing an activity of some sort, usually outside.Perhaps I was weeping because my loss is just a couple of months old, still raw in some way. I never did manage to have a dry face the rest of the time, even through communion and while singing the final praise songs. The last time I broke down like this was after a visit to the Harvest bookstore, while driving through that part of town where we once lived life in all its aspects.
Maybe the memory of the way our family's church life was so strongly forged at Harvest gave me tears of joy, not sorrow. Jesus knows, and that's all that matters!
The closing invitation which Pastor Greg always gives, was answered by several people, who now have a different destiny. God has recently opened incredible doors of opportunity for the Harvest Crusades and Harvest America to reach millions more people with the Gospel. And the Lord continues to open up opportunities for me to meet and minister to new women in new settings, ie., widows' groups and new Bible study small groups also. A personal door of witness will be opening up for me next month, and I continue to meet and share with new women in the course of my Mary Kay business. The message of hope, through Jesus Christ, no matter what you've been through, continues to go out, on a small personal scale and a massive public one! Souls are saved, encouraged and comforted, and the assignments are given to whom God chooses.
This Easter weekend remember, first and foremost: Jesus died to save all of us sinners, that we might live with Him eternally; and furthermore, for today, that He might live within us now!