I wonder, have you ever been "going through the motions" in your relationship with God?
Life is hard.
What you thought would happen, what you were sure God promised, hasn't happened.
It even seems the complete opposite has.
You've lost all hope.
Yet, in the midst of your dead dreams, you show up anyway.
You seek the Lord.
You weep for Him.
You worship Him.
You may feel He has left you.
You may think all hope is gone.
You may wish you hadn't gotten so close, never trusted the promise He made.
You may question if you ever heard Him in the first place.
You wonder why He is silent.
Yet, in the midst of His silence, you show up anyway.
You may feel He has left you in your brokenness.
You wonder why He is absent in your deepest darkness.
Yet, in the midst of His seeming absence, you show up anyway.
You go through the motions of praying, of reading His Word, of worshipping Him.
Sometimes going through the motions is all God requires.
We can learn a lot from Mary Magdalen about simply showing up and going through the motions.
Mary is the woman from whom Jesus cast seven demons. She became a devout follower of Jesus and is included in Luke's list of women who cared for Jesus' needs.
"Soon afterward Jesus began a tour of the nearby towns and villages, preaching and announcing the Good News about the Kingdom of God. He took His twelve disciples with Him, along with some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases. Among them were Mary Magdalene, from whom He had cast out seven demons; Joanna, the wife of Cluza, Herod's manager; Susanna, and many others who were contributing from their own resources to support Jesus and His disciples." Luke 8:1-3
Mary Magdalene had not only witnessed Jesus heal the sick and cast out demons; she had experienced His touch for herself. She had seen Him perform miracles; maybe she was in the crowd of mourners with Mary of Bethany and her sister, Martha when Jesus called their brother from the tomb.
She had walked with Jesus day in and day out, experiencing and witnessing His great power. She believed He was the Son of God. She was sure He was going to save Israel from Roman oppression.
And she had witnessed His brutal death on the cross.
She had watched as Joseph had taken His body and gently laid Him in the tomb.
Now the day after the Sabbath she had come with the other women to properly attend His body.
Matthew's Gospel tells us Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came.
Mark adds Salome to the group.
Luke simply says "the women".
And John says Mary was the only one present.
Regardless of who was or wasn't with her, we see Mary show up.
In her brokenness, Mary showed up.
In her lost hope, Mary showed up.
In the midst of her dead dreams, Mary showed up.
In the time of her deepest darkness, Mary showed up.
Sometimes simply showing up is all God requires.
Reading John's account of the story, we see Mary show up to find the stone rolled from the entrance of Jesus' tomb.
In her dismay she runs to find Simon Peter and John.
"They have taken the Lord's body out of the tomb, and we don't know where they have put Him!" John 20:2
Peter and John run to the tomb where they see the linen wrappings lying there, the face covering folded neatly and lying apart from the other clothes.
Suddenly they remember what Jesus had said about rising from the dead and they believe.
They believe but then they leave.
But, Mary stayed.
She stayed at the place she had last seen the Lord.
Sometimes simply staying where we've seen Him work is all God requires.
Mary sat in her sorrow, weeping for her Lord.
Sometimes simply sitting with our feelings is all God requires.
Mary stayed and saw the Lord.
Mary stayed and heard Him speak her name.
She stayed and because she did she had an encounter with her Risen Lord.
When our relationship with God seems stagnant.
When it seems He has left us to face life on our on.
When we've lost all hope.
We need to show up anyway.
We need to go through the motions of worshipping Him.
We need to stay in the place we last saw Him.
We need to sit in our feelings of despair and hopelessness.
And when we do, we will see our Lord again.
We will hear Him call our name.
We will have an encounter with our Risen Lord.
I wonder, is there a place in your life you need an encounter with Jesus?
Does He seem to have left you?
Has you hope died?
Is that promise still unfulfilled?
Will you simply show up?
Will you stay where you last saw Him?
Will you sit in your feelings and wait?
I am sure when you do Jesus will show up, too.
He will move again.
He will sit with you.
And He will call your name.
Sometimes it seems You have left me. Sometimes I wonder if I really heard You speak in the first place. Sometimes I lose all my hope.
When those times of despair and hopelessness overtake me, and I feel there is no use in worshipping You, no reason to read Your Word, and no point to praying; would You empower me to show up anyway? Would You enable me to worship anyway? Would You guide me to read Your Word anyway? Would You assist me in my prayers? Would You help me see the benefit of simply staying where I saw You last? Would You come sit with me?
And Jesus, as I simply show up, going through the motions, would You speak my name?
I need to hear You Lord.
I want to see You.
I desire to be with You.
I'll keep showing up until You do too.
In Jesus' name Amen.
I hope these thoughts help you keep showing up anyway!
"I waited patiently for the Lord; He turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and the mire; He set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand." Psalm 40:1-2
Until next time,
Keep gathering manna, growing deeper, and gaining intimacy.
May God bless and keep you,
Have you ever been "going through the motions" in your relationship with God?