Where is God?

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Where is God?

by Alyssa Robinson

John 20:11-18 (NLT)
Mary was standing outside the tomb crying, and as she wept, she stooped and looked in. She saw two white-robed angels, one sitting at the head and the other at the foot of the place where the body of Jesus had been lying. “Dear woman, why are you crying?” the angels asked her.

“Because they have taken away my Lord,” she replied, “and I don’t know where they have put him.”

She turned to leave and saw someone standing there. It was Jesus, but she didn’t recognize him. “Dear woman, why are you crying?” Jesus asked her. “Who are you looking for?”

She thought he was the gardener. “Sir,” she said, “if you have taken him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will go and get him.”

“Mary!” Jesus said.

She turned to him and cried out, “Rabboni!” (which is Hebrew for “Teacher”).

“Don’t cling to me,” Jesus said, “for I haven’t yet ascended to the Father. But go find my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”

Mary Magdalene found the disciples and told them, “I have seen the Lord!” Then she gave them his message.

I’ve always loved this story of Jesus revealing himself to Mary after the resurrection. I find it so relatable. Somehow, in my moments of deepest grief and depression God finds me. The logician in me says it’s because in our darkest times we are searching for hope. It's easier to see God at work because we are desperate for divine connection. Clearly, in the above text Mary Magdalene was feeling that desperation. But something deep within me knows it’s more mysterious than that.

Here are some glimpses of the divine in my life. I have been swept into a tornado, thinking it was my last moment on earth, and instead of fear I felt peace and calm. My marriage ended in divorce, but I never felt alone because my family and friends surrounded and held me throughout the ordeal. I experienced the privilege of being by my Grandmother’s side when she died, completing a circle of family praying for her and holding her hand as she passed. It is now my most cherished life experience.

These moments were some of my darkest times, but just like Mary Magdalene, I wept, cried out to God, and God revealed Godself. How is it that in our darkest moments God can feel so near? How do some of the most difficult and desperate moments in life transform into beauty? I have no explanation for it. I know I worship the God of restoration and transformation. The God of potential.

In this week’s Life + God Podcast episode, Lilly Bird shares her story of God’s transformation. Lilly reminds me so much of Mary Magdalene in John 20. Listen to her story of overcoming depression with the help of mental health professionals, loving family, and God’s grace. You can listen here or wherever you get your podcasts.

 

When Jesus revealed himself to Mary Magdalene, she was so overjoyed that she couldn’t keep the news to herself. She immediately went to tell the other disciples what she had seen and heard. We’ve been talking about spiritual gifts lately, and I would venture to guess that Mary had the spiritual gift of evangelism. I can’t say that’s my gift. Although I’ve experienced God in my times of grief, sometimes it’s hard for me to share it. It’s so difficult to put the feelings into words, and part of me feels like trying to put words around it steals from the wonder.

I think it’s okay to be a little more reserved than Mary was with her story. People with the gift of evangelism want to share their experience of God and Jesus so badly that they can’t hold it in, but just because you don’t feel that way doesn’t mean you don’t have a story to share.

Now, here comes the challenge. This week, try to do some introspective work. Sit down and think about the times you’ve felt God’s presence. Meditate on them and remember that God is at work in your life. Write them down if it helps you. Next, just keep your ears and heart open. That’s it. Listen to the people around you. Listen to their experiences. God may reveal an opportunity for you to share your story with someone else who needs some encouragement or connection.

You have a story to share. May God reveal Godself to you this week.

Posted by Alyssa Robinson at 7:00 AM
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