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  • July 11, 2014 - Reflections

    By Jean S. Horner
    The other day while walking down a corridor in a public building, I saw what appeared to be someone walking toward me. On coming closer, I found it was my own reflection in a huge mirror. For a moment it frightened me. Somehow a full-length reflection of one’s self is a startling thing. ...




Live Like It's Sunday

By Steve and Yen-Sha Lim
Apr. 20, 2014

We have all faced awful days. Thankfully, for most of us they don’t often occur. What if we experienced the three worst days of our lives, one right after another? We’d be devastated!

That’s what happens to Jesus’ disciples during the week of His crucifixion. They have spent three years ministering with and listening to the Son of God, all the while envisioning what larger form His earthly kingdom might take and what positions of authority they might hold at His side. But following those three years, in just three days, all of those dreams lie shattered like so much glass.

What occurs next, however, transforms the disciples’ lives, and that same truth provides the key that enables us to overcome life’s crises.


Thursday: Crisis on the horizon

“One of you will betray me” (Matthew 26:21, NIV), Jesus predicts during the Passover meal. Imagine how the disciples react.

“What? That’s impossible! Who could do such a thing?”

Later Jesus predicts, “I will not drink from this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom” (v. 29).

The disciples gasp, “Our Master says He will die soon! This can’t be. We won’t let it happen!”

Jesus makes a third prediction: “This very night you will all fall away on account of me” (v. 31).

Dismayed, the disciples question, “We’ve given up everything to follow Him. How could we ever desert Him?”

 Later in the Garden of Gethsemane, soldiers arrest Jesus. In panic, the disciples flee. Afterwards they learn the authorities sentenced Jesus to die. They tremble, “Will they really execute our Master? Will we be next?”

We all experience crises. Circumstances may pile up against us at work, in our studies, with finances, in relationships, or through serious illnesses — and even in ministry. Sometimes it’s more than we can handle.

During our daughter Sandra’s 1-year-old checkup, her doctor informed us, “She has a serious blood disorder with no known cure. Her body cannot produce red blood cells, so she will need regular blood transfusions for the rest of her life.”

This, the physician continued, would cause the buildup of excess iron in Sandra’s body, causing the eventual malfunction of vital organs. Daily medication would delay this process. The prognosis, however, included possible problems in physical and mental development.

For months we experienced extreme stress. We worried about Sandra’s future, while trying to trust God for healing.


Friday: Absolute despair

Thursday’s stress is bad; Friday’s despair is worse. Helplessly, the disciples watch their Master hang in agony on the cross. Along with thousands of people they mourn, “We hoped that Jesus would establish a kingdom of righteousness, justice and love. Now He’s been crucified. Once more, evil triumphs over good. Again we live in darkness without hope.”

For many on this Friday, hope dies. The disciples plunge into absolute despair.

In life we will experience major losses — such as the death of a loved one or the end of a dream. Some will encounter financial reverses or a failed relationship. At such times we feel like screaming.

Despite her condition, Sandra lived a full and active life. In 2013 she joyfully anticipated the birth of her first child, Nathaniel. However, she experienced a rare birth complication. Within hours of delivery Sandra died. We were crushed. A day of greatest joy over Nathaniel’s arrival turned into one of greatest loss as we mourned Sandra’s death.


Saturday: An unknown future

As Saturday dawns, the disciples face an unknown future. They wonder, “Can we go back to our old lives? We’ve tasted a new kind of life with Jesus. No, we can never go back!” The disciples cannot go back and they cannot go forward. They exist in limbo.

Sometimes we wonder when we will ever find a job in our field of study, or meet the person we will marry, or discover God’s direction for our life. We feel like we’re in limbo.

When we moved to Springfield, Mo., from San Francisco, Yen experienced difficulty. She left family and friends along with her ministry and job. Huge parts of her life and identity disappeared with no replacements. What would she do now?


Sunday: Joy and unshakeable confidence

Let’s go back in time and imagine ourselves with Jesus’ disciples. How do we encourage them?

We might quickly say, “Men, you’re going through a shattering ordeal. But the story isn’t over yet. Sunday’s coming! God is in control. Death will be defeated. It’s full speed ahead with the mission of Jesus. Salvation to the ends of the world! All this will happen because Jesus will rise from death.”

On Sunday, the disciples learn that Jesus has indeed risen from the grave. Their despair transforms to joy and unshakeable confidence. Jesus, Savior and living Lord, is establishing God’s kingdom.

At times the disciples will continue to experience crises. But these can no longer defeat them. Their risen Lord goes with them. In the worst situations, God has control. They no longer live in uncertain limbo. They have a clear life mission — to share the good news of Jesus and God’s kingdom through word and deed.

LIVE EVERY DAY LIKE IT'S SUNDAY

We can’t blame the disciples for being defeated during the most devastating three days of their lives. After all, they had not experienced Sunday.

At times we will experience stress, despair and uncertainty. Will we live like it is still Thursday, Friday or Saturday? We don’t have the excuse the disciples might have used; we are living after the Resurrection. God is in control. With this hope, joy will eventually return. We can live every day like it’s Sunday.


Thursday: Peace during stress

In the case of Sandra’s blood disorder, we learned to trust that God has control. Though she did not receive healing, God sustained her. None of the negative possibilities occurred. Instead of having mental challenges, Sandra qualified for California’s gifted education program. Instead of physical challenges, she received a scholarship to play softball in college.

For four years after college, Sandra served as a youth pastor and impacted many young people with her infectious energy and spiritual passion. After that she worked with at-risk children and youth. Sandra again touched many lives, quickly rising to the position of associate director of her division. For her contributions, Sandra received an award from the area’s Legal Advocates for Children and Youth.

Observing Sandra’s life, we could see: “In all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28). We learned the secret to peace during times of intense stress.


Friday: Hope during despair

Sandra’s death during childbirth stunned us. Because of the impact of her life, nearly 1,000 people attended Sandra’s funeral. Hundreds of people posted remarks on Facebook sharing how she touched their lives. We experienced comfort knowing Sandra’s short life made a difference for eternity. Also we have the glorious hope of reuniting with her in eternity.

Whatever loss we experience, we need a Sunday vision. God is in control and working out His purposes. And we have a “living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:3).


Saturday: Purpose in uncertainty

For months after moving to Springfield, Yen lived in limbo. But God was shaping her life. Since then, He has given Yen new friends and challenging ministries that have forced her to grow.

Steve has served for many years in an academic setting with its particular challenges and transitions. But we have always sensed God’s faithful touch on our lives.

God gives us His Spirit to empower us. As Jesus sends us into the world (John 17:18), He instructs, “Receive the Holy Spirit” (20:22).


Live like it’s Sunday

Living like it’s Sunday doesn’t mean denying our circumstances and pretending everything’s fine. We will still experience stress, despair and times when the future is a big question mark. But we don’t have to be defeated, because we can see our circumstances from the perspective of Easter Sunday: God is in control and accomplishing His purposes in our lives and in the world.

Jesus has risen. Whether it’s Thursday, Friday or Saturday, let’s live every day like it’s Sunday!


STEVE LIM is professor of practical theology at Assemblies of God Theological Seminary in Springfield, Mo. YEN-SHA LIM chairs the National Chinese Fellowship for the Assemblies of God, and is a general presbyter. The Lims reside in Springfield.

Email your comments to pe@ag.org.