Empty Rooms Tell A Story

Image by dozemode from Pixabay

Empty rooms can sometimes tell a pretty full story.

For instance, if you come downstairs into your empty kitchen and find chocolate sauce smeared over everything and a trail of chocolatey footprints leading into a closet, you can probably surmise what happened:

Your four-year-old went wild while you were busy upstairs and is now in hiding.

Or if you come home to an empty living room only to discover the sofa’s cushions have been chewed to bits and there is stuffing all over the place, the room itself tells you all you need to know: that your naughty dog shouldn’t be left alone so long.

Perhaps you arrive back from vacation and each empty room shows evidence of having been ransacked. A window was broken, drawers have been pulled open, and valuable items are missing. Police detectives find additional clues in the house that help them figure out the identity of the burglar.

Investigators (and parents) are masters at being able to figure out what story an empty room tells.

I wonder if we can use our detective skills to determine what the empty tomb of Jesus conveys?

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Have You Found The Way?

Image by claumoho on Flickr CC BY-2.0

Have you ever tried navigating through a maze?

Perhaps as a kid you tried to find your way in and out of a hedge maze in a park. Or maybe you visited a maze made of corn or sunflower stalks in a farmer’s field. They’re fun, aren’t they?

Mazes can vary dramatically in size. Some are so large that visitors are given an emergency cell phone number to call if they get lost in the maze and can’t find their way out!

You might wonder, is a maze the same as a labyrinth?

The terms are often used interchangeably, but there’s actually a difference between them.

A maze is known as “multicursal.”

It branches off into many confusing paths and surprising dead ends. A maze may have several entrances and exits. The surrounding hedges or walls are so high and dense that you can’t see the whole pattern unless you get up high in a viewing tower or balloon ride. A maze is for entertainment, a fun puzzle to try to solve.

A labyrinth, on the other hand, is “unicursal.”

A labyrinth has only one track or walkway, and it doesn’t branch off into dead ends. There’s only one way in or out. You enter, follow the path to the centre, and continue on the same path until you reach the exit. Sometimes the barriers on either side are very low, allowing you to see the entire pattern. Walking a labyrinth can be a calming, spiritual practice.

Which does Christianity most resemble, a maze or a labyrinth?

Jesus implies that it’s more like a labyrinth:

There’s only one way in, and one path to follow.

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The Blessings of Not Seeing

Ishihara test for colour blindness. Those with normal colour vision should see a green W on a red background. Image by Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0

The colour blind have to take a lot by faith.

The term “colour blind” means just what it says: unable to perceive certain colours. The most common type of this vision disorder is red-green colour blindness. People with this visual deficiency may see these colours as yellowish or greyish.

While these individuals have never seen red or green, they do acknowledge that these colours exist.

Why?

Because they trust in the conviction of others who have seen red and green. They believe that those who have had real-life experience of these colours are telling the truth. So the colour blind take our word for it that these hues genuinely exist.

Basically, they believe in the existence of red and green by sheer faith.

As believers in Christ, there are fundamental things that we have to take by faith, too.

And the Bible says we will be blessed for what we haven’t seen.

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Inscribed in the Palms of His Hands

Image by Lisa Johnson from Pixabay

Have you ever been tempted to carve initials or names in the trunk of a tree?

Perhaps linking yours with those of someone you love, like “M + F” or “Josh loves Amanda”? The inscriptions could last for centuries, emblems immortalizing your love for generations to come.

(Of course, as a nature lover, I’d rather people not make carvings in the bark of a living tree. But I can understand the impulse to do so.)

In fact, people have been engraving things on tree trunks for millennia.

Birch trees are a natural choice due to their white bark. The smooth silver-grey bark of beech trees is also a magnet for trunk-carvers. Indo-European peoples have used it for writing-related purposes since antiquity. In some modern European languages, the words for “book” and “beech” are either very close or identical. No wonder the beech has been called the “patron tree” (sort of like a patron saint) of writers.

Did you know that God sometimes inscribes things in usual places, too?

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Don’t Look For The Living Among The Dead

Image of cicada exoskeleton by Franck Barske from Pixabay

When I was a little girl, I loved to explore in the woods.

One day I came across a cicada clinging to a tree trunk. Except this insect didn’t look alive: its body was transparent, and it never moved.

What was wrong with the cicada, I wondered?

I finally realized that I wasn’t looking at a live bug, but rather at its discarded exoskeleton.

When it’s time for a nymph cicada to turn into an adult, it clings to a tree and sheds its outer body. The abandoned shell remains, still clinging to the bark of the tree, while the “reborn” cicada flies off.

My mistake that day?

I was looking for the living among the dead.

Some of the Jesus’ followers made the same error.

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Ultimate Victory Is Coming

Pont de la Concorde, Paris. Image by David Mark from Pixabay

If you’ve ever been to Paris, you’ll know that many of its bridges have a story to tell.

The Pont de la Concorde is no exception.

This stone-arch bridge across the River Seine connects the Place de la Concorde with the National Assembly.

Construction of the bridge started during the late 1700s and continued even during the turmoil of the French Revolution. It was completed in 1791.

Interestingly, some of the stones used for the Pont de la Concorde were sourced from the rubble of the demolished Bastille prison. The bridge’s architect, Rudolph Perronet, said this was “so that the people could forever trample the old fortress.”

Today you can traverse this bridge and trample under your own feet the stones from the once-feared stronghold which imprisoned so many.

It’s a satisfying feeling to show your contempt for something vile by actually stomping on it, isn’t it?

Scripture tells us that Jesus will do something similar:

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Your “Spring” Is On Its Way!

Image by Jill Wellington from Pixabay

A beautiful red cardinal has been singing heartily outside my window the past week, as though it’s already spring.

My hibiscus houseplant has broken its winter dormancy and is putting forth flower buds.

But there’s still snow on the ground, and there’s bound to be more snow coming. This is Canada, after all, and it’s only March. It’s still cold enough outside to need a winter coat.

Doesn’t seem like spring to me.

Do the cardinal and the hibiscus know something I don’t?

In fact, they do. They sense the lengthening of the day and the increased hours of sunlight, things that have escaped my notice.

They know that spring is on its way, even if I can’t see it coming just yet.

In the same way, God knows a thing or two that we don’t.

He knows when a turnaround in our situation on its way, even if we can’t see any evidence of a change in the offing.

He knows that our “spring” is coming.

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God Will Go Ahead of You

Cow eyeing something suspiciously. Image by ArtTower from Pixabay

Do you ever get a bit anxious when faced with something completely new?

Like how to find a new job in an economy that’s unlike anything you’ve seen before? Or how to navigate a world that’s turned upside-down?

Many of us shrink from the prospect of entering uncharted territory.

And we’re not the only ones: even some animals balk when confronted with something unfamiliar.

Cows are notorious for disliking disruptions to their routines and environments. They’re particularly averse to new gates. Cows are made so nervous by new entrances and openings that they’ll stubbornly resist going through them.

This trait is so well known that it’s given rise to the phrase, “like a cow looking at a new gate.” It means to view something with bewilderment and confusion, as though to say, “Are you serious? I’m not going through that.

Do you feel this way when faced with the uncertainties that the new year may bring? Is fear of the unknown keeping you from stepping forward in faith to realize your dreams?

Fear has a way of paralyzing us, so that we stay stuck where we are instead of trying something new.

But we needn’t be afraid.

God will go through the gate ahead of us.

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