Today we held our first Sunday house church service since March 6 (two days before the heart attacks). It has been difficult to not have any services over the Easter season, but there was nothing we could do about that. Committing to having the service today required a bit of faith and some determination. I never know how I’m going to feel from one day to the next, but the past few days had been relatively good ones.
Of course, we not only face physical challenges, but there is a spiritual battle that is ever ongoing, and Satan takes no delight in seeing a small group of believers meet and submit themselves to worship and praise. With last night being when Mexico switched to daylight savings time, that always adds an element of potential fatigue and tardiness. At 11:30 p.m. (12:30 on the new time), someone set off about 30 seconds of booming fireworks which awoke me from a really nice sleep that had only begun about 30 minutes before. That kept me up for two or three hours as I have difficulty resuming sleep once awakened. I don’t know for sure when I really slept again, but by 8:30 I was waking up from the light of day but feeling fatigued and tired. I finally willed myself out of bed around 9.
The thought of cancelling the service flashed across my mind, but I knew the spiritual battle was greater than the physical one, so I dispelled that idea and just did the best I could to take a shower, get coffee made, sweep the dining room floor where we were planning to have a brunch with a devotional, and ended up heading back to the recliner to recuperate from those menial tasks that had consumed what energy I had.
Given it was a time-change Sunday, we hadn’t met for a month, and we were adding a carry-in brunch, no one arrived at the stated start time of 11 a.m. In fact, no one arrived until 11:30, and then we waited about 15 or 20 more minutes for the second family to arrive. I went out to meet and greet at that point. A third family was planning on coming and had even texted us in the morning concerning what to bring, but they never did arrive. We enjoyed some time to eat together and talk a little, and then I gave a relatively impromptu devotional for about 20 minutes.
I had decided yesterday that I wanted to touch on the theme of the resurrection, but instead of the resurrection of Jesus, I had decided to read from John 11 and the story of the resurrection of Lazarus and focus on the words of Jesus in 11:25-26, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.” Basically, I shared the reality of this declaration and how it took on fresh meaning for me in my recent experience. That evening of the 2nd heart attack as I was in a small clinic room here in San Juan del Río, the realization that I might very well not live through the night had finally caught up to my oxygen-starved brain. I remember praying a very simple and direct prayer in my mind, “Lord, am I about to see you? I want to be ready.” That’s all I remember praying. But that’s not all I remember. I remember feeling a flood of peace in my soul. I was not afraid of dying. I was not even concerned with dying. I was just at peace with whatever was about to transpire. I thought I might be about to pass from what I was seeing (in bits and pieces at this point) to seeing the face of Jesus. That’s all I knew.
At that point, life and death didn’t really mean much, at least not compared to how it seemed just hours before. Life meant Jesus. Death meant Jesus. Anything and everything else was simply irrelevant and not of any concern. Jesus didn’t tell Martha in John 11 that he “gives life,” but that he “is life.” Jesus didn’t say that he “raises the dead,” but that he “is the resurrection.” That is the truth. That is all.
The Apostle Paul understood this so well when he declared in Philippians 1:21, “For me to live is Christ and to die is gain.” There is nothing else. There is no one else. It is just Jesus. If our lives are anything but Christ, then we aren’t really living in Christ. He is the resurrection and the life. He is my resurrection and my life. There is no one and nothing else. Just Jesus.