“I am with you always.”
Forgiveness isn’t about getting you into heaven. In its historical and cultural context, the biblical text and its writers didn’t concern themselves too much with thoughts of where people go when they die. When they mention heaven and hell, they are referencing things that people experience here on earth. A present spiritual reality that bleeds into the life to come, whatever that is and wherever it may be.
So forgiveness? It’s for here and now.
Christ resurrected back into this life, this world. In this one act, he declared our physical earth worth saving. All of it: humanity, animals, dust, oceans, forests, rivers: beautiful, holy, remarkable, caught up in all kinds of forgiveness and redemption.
The world and all that is within it is not on some evacuation countdown. It was all always destined for renewal and healing.
The problem is, just like some around Jesus at the time, we are often blind to the miracle right in front of us.
We too, like the Pharisees at the temple (from Monday’s devotion), ask for a wondrous, miraculous sign: like water turning wine, the deaf hearing and the blind seeing, children raised from the dead, arms and legs that were once missing now present and in full action. But the biblical text tells stories of how there were some who saw these grand miracles and still did not believe.
“Presence is the real miracle. Both Divine presence in us and around us, and the ability to be present enough not to wish to walk on water, but to walk on the earth.”
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Thich Nhat Hanh once wrote:
“People usually consider walking on water or in thin air a miracle. But I think the real miracle is not to walk either on water or in thin air, but to walk on earth. Every day we are engaged in a miracle which we don't even recognize: a blue sky, white clouds, green leaves, the black, curious eyes of a child—our own two eyes. All is a miracle.”
When you’re too busy looking for the grand and ostentatious signs of God’s existence and work, you’ll miss the real miracle that’s right under your nose.
Jesus last words to his friends were:
“I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:20.
Presence is the real miracle. Both Divine presence in us and around us, and the ability to be present enough not to wish to walk on water, but to walk on the earth. To allow the resurrection to open our eyes to the wonder all around us and in us.
For the early Christians, the resurrection wasn’t about what happens to us and our bodies after we die, it was about the miracle of Christ at work within us here and now, in our everyday, ordinary, miraculous lives.
In her book “Stitches: A Handbook on Meaning, Hope, and Repair,” Anne Lamott wrote:
“The miracle is that we are here, that no matter how undone we’ve been the night before, we wake up every morning and are still here. It is phenomenal just to be.”
I wonder if Jesus thought something similar in those first few moments alone in the tomb before the stone was rolled away and he walked on out.
Written by Liz Milani