He is RISEN!

In the midst of the world shutting down, I’ve craved encouragement and optimism. It’s so easy to fall into a “dooms day” mentality that gets darker and darker the more I fester and complain. But, that is not productive, it’s not useful, and it’s certainly not edifying.

Some Easter culinary creations to share with the neighbors!

The greatest source of encouragement to me is the resurrection of Jesus Christ. And this Easter, I am SO EXCITED to tell you why!

I’ve found the certainty and joy in the news that He is Risen is unparalleled by any false security this world offers. Jesus lived, and He died, but death did not have the final say. Indeed, “death has been swallowed up in victory (I Corinthians 15:54).”!!!

I believe that the resurrection changed the trajectory of the human history. The fall of man in the Garden of Eden put us on a path headed to death, despair, and worse, eternal separation from our Creator.  Sin is something that a lot of people (myself included) see in themselves, and that almost everyone sees in the world. Thankfully, that’s not where the story ends. “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love which he loved us, even when we were death in our trespasses, made us alive tougher with Christ—by grace you have be saved (Ephesians 2: 4-5).” His victory is ours too!

“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, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ! (1 Corinthians 15:55-57)”

The resurrection is literally the difference between life and death for Jesus obviously, but also for everyone else. The price of sin was paid on the cross because the wages of sin is death  (Romans 6:23), but the grave could not hold our God (Acts 2:24).

When Christ conquered death, the power of sin was defeated once and for all. He ROSE and that is cause for celebration. Indeed, we may rejoice the glimpse of Glory revealed by the empty grave.

Death no longer has a hold on us. And this virus will not either. This life is temporary, and so too is the quarantine. We need not descend into the pit in these strange times, though it seems tempting. In fact, we are invited to dance in the sun for we have a hope that surpasses all else. A hope that encourages us to rise, rejoice, and refocus on the life and Glory that is to come.  One that we can all experience when we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior, surrender our hearts to Him, and marvel in His good work.

Trust your toes

These are interesting times. It’s hard to know what to think, how to feel, where to go. There is temptation to give into fear in the uncertainty of it all and panic. I know, I feel it too. But in the midst of the chaos, I know that there is also an opportunity for radical faith, the kind that transforms and renews this broken a weary world.

When I started law school, I decided to take up rock climbing. I highly recommend it! It’s a great activity to engage your whole body and also practice mindfulness because when you’re climbing there really isn’t room for your mind to wander. All your energy, mental and physical, is likely focused on the task ahead (or above).

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Laramie, Wyoming, USA.

Beyond the mental and physical health benefits though, climbing drew me in because I’m afraid of heights. I know that sounds counter-intuitive, but it’s not. I feel most empowered, most productive, and most alive when I’m facing my fears head on, and climbing allows me to do just that. I believe the key moment of crystallization of this climbing euphoria, if you’ll indulge me, is when I must trust my toes to carry me to the top.

So often, people try to muscle their way to the top, which usually exhausts them. And isn’t that so true about humans in life generally? It’s true for me most times. I crave control and guarantees, and often rely on my own strength, my own ideas, and my own plans.

Thankfully, I don’t have much upper body strength to rely on when I’m climbing. I’m forced to lean into the rock, take a deep breath, and trust that my foot won’t slip. I’m forced to have faith, and I’m convinced that this should be our approach in these times of uncertainty.

As David writes in Psalm 121:

“I lift my eyes up to the hills—
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
The Maker of heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot slip—
He who watches over you will not slumber;
Indeed, he who watches over Israel
Will neither clumber not sleep.

The Lord watches over you—
The Lord is your shade at you right hand’
The sun will not harm you by day,
Not the moon by night.

The Lord will keep you from all harm—
he will watch over your life;
The Lord will watch over your coming and going
Both now and forevermore.”

I don’t know what tomorrow will bring. But I do know that I serve a sovereign and good God. I know that he created this earth, and in Him all things hold together (Colossians 1: 16-17). I know that steps of radical faith are rewarded with sweet, intimate moments with the Lord. We can take comfort in these certainties amid the gantlet of uncertainty ahead. We can take a deep breath, trust our toes, and maybe even get to see the view from the top.

A Day Without Running Water

Before venturing halfway around the world, I’ve never gone without running water. On a day-to-day basis I just don’t think about water because I have the privilege to assume all the water I drink is clean and never lift a finger to collect water. In the United States, our water is not only easily accessible and clean- it also protects our teeth through water fluoridation. During the first couple days I spent in Uganda, my thoughts on water changed and considerably increased.

Waking up in Uganda, I’d stretch and wearily navigate an exit rout from underneath the mosquito net covering my bed. As I drudged over to my suitcase I grabbed my towel and headed off to take a shower. I knew that the water we used came from a well about 1.5 miles from where we were staying, so I don’t have good reason to explain my surprise of what taking a shower entailed. Opening the wooden gate-like door to the outdoor shower, I peered in to find two jugs of water (one hot and one cold) and a plastic bowl. The shower procedure, I soon learned, was to pour various amounts of the hot and could water into this bowl and dump the water on your self. I never appreciated modern technology that makes running water possible so much until my own hands had to take its place.

After I finished my shower, I set off to complete my next task of brushing my teeth. In addition to water being difficult to access, the water we were able to collect was not clean. I had the luxury of bottled water though, and so I brushed my teeth using that. Using bottled water made me aware of just how much water I can live off of, which surprised me even more than the shower procedure.

Over the course of a half hour that first morning in Uganda, I learned more about my daily consumption of water than all the statics that have been quoted to me. Water is important and clean water is even more important. In many ways, God is like water. He brings life to everything he touches, uplifting us with his grace and love. Sometimes we don’t notice how much the Lord is working in our lives, the ways He is changing our hearts and His beautiful creations because we are caught up in the daily grind. All too often I take the Lord for granted, unaware that it is He who “refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake” (Psalm 23:3).