I’ll Come Back!

On December 7, 1988 at 11:41 a.m., a 6.9 magnitude earthquake shook northwestern Armenia (which borders Turkey.) It was followed four minutes later by a 5.8 magnitude aftershock. In his book, When Christ Comes, Max Lucado tells a beautiful story that came out of this tragedy which I shared with my congregation this Easter.

Max Lucado wrote, “The Armenian earthquake needed only four minutes to flatten a nation and kill thirty thousand people. Moments after the deadly tremor ceased a father raced to an elementary school to save his son. When he arrived the father saw that the building had been leveled. Looking at the mass of stones and rubble he remembered a promise he had made to his child, ‘No matter what happens I’ll always be there for you.’

Driven by his own promise he found the area closest to his son’s classroom and began to pull back the rocks.  Other parents arrived and began sobbing for their children. ‘It’s too late’ … they told the man. ‘You know they are dead. … You can’t help.’ Even a police officer encouraged him to give up.  But the father refused.  For eight hours … then sixteen … then thirty-two … thirty-six hours he dug.  His hands were raw and his energy gone but he refused to quit.

Finally after thirty-eight wrenching hours he pulled back a boulder and heard his son’s voice.  He called his boy’s name ‘Arman! Arman!’ And a voice answered him, ‘Dad … it’s me!’ Then the boy added these priceless words ‘I told the other kids not to worry.  I told them if you were alive you’d save me and when you saved me they’d be saved too. Because you promised ‘No matter what … I’ll always be there for you.’”

It’s in the heart-breaking times of our lives when it is hard to remember that God is there for us, that we are not alone. During times of sickness, death, grief, troubled relationship issues, addictions, etc.

It’s then that we naturally wonder, “Am I alone?”
“How do I get out from under this rubble?”
“Is God here?  Does He care?”

Easter is the promise God made to us. He said … “no matter what happens, I will come back.”

In John 14 Jesus said, “Do not let your hearts be troubled.  Trust in God.  Trust also in me.  You see, in my Father’s house there are many rooms.  If it were not so, I would [not] have told you I am going there to prepare a place for you.  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back, and take you to be with me, so that you also may be where I am.”

In our distress can we believe this promise?
Do we dare believe this promise?

Maybe sometimes you never have doubts. Maybe you’re like that boy buried beneath the earthquake rubble who just knew, even with the world crashing in around him, that his father would come and rescue him.  But I think most of us experience times of doubt.  Times of questioning.  Is God really here?  Will He really come back for us?  Will He come back for me?

How can we know for sure?  How can we know that Jesus will do what He said?  That He will return and set us free from the crushing rocks of pain and death that crash in on us in this life and take us to be with Him?

We know because He’s already done it once – on that first Easter morning.  He Rose.  Just as He promised.

And if Jesus has risen from the dead then He has won the victory over death for all time.  And if He has won the victory over death then we share in that victory too.

Sometimes in life we’re the ones crushed under the boulders of life.  Sometimes we’re the ones asked to help to remove boulders from other people’s’ lives.  For example, when we help refugee families, when we help with a meal train for someone in need or when someone has a child, when we cook a meal for Carpenter’s Shelter to feed people who are homeless.  We’re called to be present, to listen, to help wherever appropriate.  And sometimes only God can remove the boulders. Sometimes only God can save us and set us free.

And that’s why we come to Him, so that He can do for us that which we cannot do for ourselves – to save us and set us free from sin.

That’s Easter. Jesus said, “I will come back.” And He did.

And He has never left. Ever. Happy Easter everyone. Happy Easter.

Peace,
Chuck

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Categories: Inspiration, Ministry

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