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She was on her knees crying so hard that she could hardly breath.  Everyone else had left the grave site, but her heart held her there.
How could she live without him? How could she go on?  He was dead and she had not had an opportunity to say, Goodbye, or even tell Him one more time how much she loved Him.   
Turning to face the grave, her breath caught in her throat.  Angels!  One facing where His head should be, and one facing where His feet should be, “Why are you crying?”, they asked her.  Too shocked to speak, she wondered to herself “How can you ask, or not know?”
Then from behind her, she felt a presence; turning she faced a man whose eyes were filled with compassion.  He seemed so familiar, and yet, she did not recognize Him.  He seemed kind, like the type of man who had authority to do good for others.  “Where have you put Him?”, she asked, trying to keep her voice steady and clear.
“Mary.”  At the mention of her name she recognized the one who held her heart and soul.  Flinging herself toward Him, she wrapped her arms around His feet never intending to let go.
As she tackled his feet and clung to him for dear life, I have to wonder if He wobbled at all.
How many times in our lives are we facing a crisis that is so great that we do not think we can go on?  Trying to find the answer we look around and think that Jesus has left us and that He is nowhere to be found.  I know I have felt that way more than I care to admit.
Life is unfair.  It has beautiful times, but I’m sure you are like me, and could tell of many times when we felt like life was not going the way it  was suppose to go, and that Jesus seemed absent.  We feel like crying our eyes out thinking, “I did all the right things, I ran away from the sin, and things still did not turn out right!”  God, this isn’t fair!  Where are you?
Mary was looking into a grave for answers, comfort and mercy in her situation.  I think that is a little like when we depend on religion for answers instead of turning to Jesus and depending on our relationship with Him to find the answers.  Granted some answers will not come until we see Him face to face.  But many answers are available in our relationship with Christ. 
For me,  pulling away when I am overwhelmed by life and feeling alone, to worship the Risen King is my way of clinging to Him as if my life is dependent on holding on to Him…because it is.
Don’t get me wrong, we are commanded to “not forsake the assembling” of ourselves.  But don’t confuse showing up for church with a relationship with Christ.  Don’t confuse religion for relationship.
Mary was looking into an empty grave, at something that looked very much like the old mercy seat that set on top of the Ark of the Covenant.  She was trying to find comfort, mercy, and answers, the way she had always done.  She was looking at the old law, and the way things had always been done and confusing it for her Lord.  
Easter is usually one of the times that most people gather into church.  Going to Church is what has always been done, and that is very good. But if we look to the way it has always been done in times past and think that is having Christ in our lives then it is easy to understand why it seems Christ is missing.
 I am guilty of doing the same thing for so many years.  One day I realized that He was not in a tomb, not with me just because I went to church.  He was with me, and near me, comforting me, and leading me because He loves me and I desire to see Him; then my relationship with Christ changed dramatically. I began really reading His Word more and talking to Him all through the day.  He was there!
 He is with me, His Spirit is in me and He is the one who has mercy on me and took my punishment for my sin.  He is my Mercy Seat, the one I run to when life is not fair. 
He is not in a manger, on a cross, or in a grave.  He is near you, calling your name. 
 He is Risen, Hallelujah!  


In His Presence

I have just returned from the sugar sand beach of the Gulf Coast with my Sisters in Christ.  The weekend had such an anointing on it.  Can you imagine 12 women together in one condo sharing kitchen duties, bathroom, and hairspray without being assigned or arguing?  That’s right, not one person argued or fussed, there was a constancy of love and encouragement from each person to each woman there.  We listened to each other as we cried over the past and wrestled with what the promise of tomorrow would hold for our families and us as we worked on art projects, shared receipies and makeup tips. 
Praying as a group was probably my most treasured time.  Each woman calling out to God the needs of one of her sisters in the room, for healing for our country and the sorrows of other countries, was so moving.  To hear the tears of another person, know the pain she had in her heart, and listen as others spoke words of healing, causes me to think back with amazement at the hand of God hovering over us.  You know how cutting women can be, yet, none of that was remotely close to the hearts and minds of the women in that condo. Our joy was too great for that.
We stayed in the Condo the whole weekend, never leaving the building, except to walk the beaches.  I have been to the Gulf my whole life and never seen the weather on the beach like what we had on that particular weekend.
It was foggy when we drove up at 12:30p.m. that Friday afternoon and it stayed foggy the entire weekend.  Usually fog lifts by 10 a.m. any other time I’ve seen it, but not this time.  The cloud of fog hovered and stayed on us the entire time.
I was reminded of two verses in the Bible.  Genesis 1:2, “and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters.”
And Exodus 24:15, “Then Moses went up to the mountain and the cloud covered the mountain.”
 Perhaps it was a weather phenomenon or, as I prefer to believe it was a cloud of His presence with us.  Either way, I am so very blessed by the women I call “Susta”, in my life and the precious Lord that weaves our heart together in Him.