This wasn’t the post I intended to write the week after Easter. Things, however, have been topsy-turvy at the Baker house. Last week, I was diagnosed with pneumonia. The tiredness is real. And while there’s never a good time to be sick, there’s certainly a bad time⎯like now. I wasn’t able to attend our Easter service or hunt eggs with the kids. And then there’s my little book that’s set to launch on Tuesday, May 2nd, that requires more of me than I have to give right now.
But amidst all this — the disappointment of missing out on a special holiday with my family, the feelings of inadequacy, and the concern of flat-out failing to launch the book properly, one word has held me together: WITH.
The weight of this word with is heavy and sweet like the scent of tea olives in Spring. It brings rest to the soul. Mark 16:20 frames the word in all its glory: Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it. [Emphasis mine]
After the crucifixion and before the resurrection the disciples were confused and afraid. John 20:19 says, “On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jews…”
But then they discovered the power of the empty tomb. Jesus was not there. He had risen! In that moment they went from being without Jesus to being with Him, and Him with them. Jesus wasn’t only with them following His resurrection⎯He worked with them. And the same Jesus works with you and with me this very day to accomplish your goals for His glory.
Recently, I had a slight but powerful shift in my relationship with Christ, my prayer life, and my calling when I began walking in the reality of God’s “with-ness”. I’ve experienced the reality of His presence within me since becoming a Christ-follower at the age of 27. But only in recent months have I harnessed the power of His being with me.
With me when I don’t have the physical energy to complete necessary tasks.
With me when I can’t understand the timing of getting sick.
With me when I’m feeling alone in an overwhelming process.
With me when I can’t be all that I want to be for my family and for myself.
His with-ness provides the grace, mercy, and rest required to move forward when everything else around me feels backward. His sovereignty trumps it all. And knowing that He is with me⎯and not indifferent toward me or against me⎯changes everything.
Have you considered how grasping the reality of God being with you might shift your perspective in your ministry, as well as life in general?
The Power of With:
- You wonder if what you’re doing is making an eternal difference or if you’re just spinning temporal wheels. Jesus is with you, prompting others to encourage you at just the right moment. No — that email, text, or call was not “out of the blue”. He is with you and knows exactly what you need to keep moving forward in your calling.
- In the grocery line, you feel prompted to share the joy of the empty tomb with the woman ahead of you. Your pulse pumps with fear — but Jesus is there — right there, standing with you, ready to give you the bravery to speak.
- Your work weighs you down emotionally, physically, and spiritually. Jesus is with you. He longs for you to ask for His wisdom and discernment instead of relying on your own. Your work matters to Him.
- You’re a single mom or a widow. You’re exhausted and loaded down with questions of “what if?”. Jesus is with you, upholding you, giving you manna-strength for the day.
- You’ve received a dreaded diagnosis. Jesus is fighting for you and He is with you.
Easter is my favorite day of the year. Without the resurrection, there would be no hope. No hope of God being in a relationship with us, no hope of forgiveness, no hope of an eternity with Him. No hope of seeing our loved ones again — and the list goes on. But because the tomb was empty that Easter morn, with-ness with God is a reality.
As the song says, “May we never lose our wonder.”
“This is an invitation to spend your lives pursuing what you most enjoy doing⎯together with God. Raising a family. Investing in your passion. Chasing your dreams. In all of it, God’s primary goal isn’t to teach you lessons. He’s a Father who teaches, not a Teacher who fathers. And a Father’s deepest desire is to invite his sons and daughters into more intimate relationship with Him. Which means God didn’t primarily create us so we would do things for Him. Or even to learn lessons about Him. His primary reason for creating us is so we can be with Him.” — Allen Arnold, The Story of With: A Better Way to Live, Love & Create
How does it make you feel to know that the God of the universe created you to be with Him?