Leaving the Lake
I thought it would be harder to leave Eagle Lake.
We’ve loved our lake house for 16 years. Particularly during the last dozen years of pastoral ministry it was our place rest and renewal. After living in parsonages for 40 years, it’s the house we made our own. The walls are soaked with the laughter of family and friends. It drew me to words from W. B. Yeats.
I will arise and go now, and to Innisfree…
And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow…
I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey,
I hear it in the deep heart’s core.
But the time has come and we’re ready to move on. That’s the message of Easter, too.
We Go Forward
The first word from the empty tomb is, “He is not here…He is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him.” (Mark 16:6-7) It’s as if the angel is saying, “You’d better get moving! He’s already out there ahead of you. You’ll have to run to catch up with him.” Sure enough, they find him, not in the graveyards of their past, but along the road that leads to the future.
My friend, Roland Rink is the person who first caught the vision for Africa Upper Room Ministries. Regardless of challenges or disappointments along the way, I’ve often heard him say, “We go forward!”
I’m convinced that one of the sure signs of the presence of the Risen Christ in our lives is that we are always going forward. Disciples of the Risen Lord are rooted in the past, but they don’t live there. They’re not trying to recapture some mythical perfection in the past, but are always “going on to perfection” (a good Wesleyan term) in the future. We go forward!
The Seeing the Future
That’s not to say that it’s easy. I’ll bet there were plenty of times when the apostles secretly wished that they could go back or silently hoped that they would not need to go any farther. But the way forward is always forward. The resurrection means that God isn’t finished with us yet.
I remember where I was when I heard the news that Martin Luther King, Jr., had been assassinated. Was it really 50 years ago?
On the night before he died (not unlike Jesus’ words on the night before he died), Dr. King acknowledged the reality of the forces that worked against the Kingdom-shaped vision he lifted up. But he called his followers to keep looking forward.
“Well, I don’t know what will happen now. We’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it really doesn’t matter with me now, because I’ve been to the mountaintop.
And I don’t mind.
Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land!” (You can read and/or hear the entire sermon here: here.)
So, we go forward! As one of the creeds affirms, “In life, in death, in life beyond death, God is with us. We are not alone.”
Always going forward,