I saw a new shore this week: The Adriatic Sea. The same sea that Paul the apostle and many other disciples stood on, I stood on. The same seashore that Christ buried his toes in while speaking the message of His gospel, I buried my toes in.
It was a moment for me. My God walked this planet and, this week, I was blessed enough to physically trace some of His steps. It was wonderful, but odd. My faith is founded in a man whose toes got buried in the sand just like mine. He was God’s Son. His gospel was the power of God unto salvation, and yet His life seemed more of a thing spent rather than a title touted about. The impact of this fell heavy on me this week: the impact of a simple life lived out by God. Frankly, the world has never seen such restraint. Every whim was His right to command, and yet He served. He took time, a day at a time, when He didn’t have to. He lived out His barefoot gospel for 33 years before He kicked death in the teeth with it.
I love that thought, but then something hit me on these foreign shores. He showed me that we celebrate His resurrection like it was greater than His restraint, like He barely pulled it all off on Easter morning.
I want to suggest, no… I want to plainly say, that if His death was the knock-out-punch for sin, then His life was the gospel wind up.
I’m saying, that the moment the Life Giver stepped into the arena of our 24-hour days, death didn’t stand a chance. I’m also saying, that every second of every day that His feet graced the soil of simple life here, Jesus was drawing back the fist of heaven.
Scripture tells us that God breathed into clay and man became a living soul. If His breath alone gives life, then how could we ever doubt the outcome?
Where in this world or the next does death have to flee from a God whose breath makes life?
O, He was getting up out of that grave, one way or another. Easter was a certainty. That is the power of God and His gospel; to call dead people to life. But the way the Life Giver chose to live His own life, that is what demanded my attention this week: the barefoot, ground touching, gospel wind up.
That is what I saw on those Albanian shores this week, half a world away. No lights, no stage, no programmed song set- just simple lives, living the thing out. I saw a handful of missionaries spending time with Muslim folks, teaching, befriending, loving in a way too uncommon to be unnoticed… the gospel wind up!
And the power of God came! We sat, circled up in a dimly lit room, singing of His great name. We in our language, and they in theirs. The gospel was given and suddenly, they started standing and God started saving. And there, in the humblest of places, I saw the Life Giver breathe into clay, and I watched in awe as new sons and daughters took their first spiritual breaths!
O God, which is more amazing? Your three-day miracle or Your thirty-years of restraint lived out as a man? I don’t know. But this I do know. I will never again treat Your death, more than Your life. I will hold both in my heart, amazed, knowing that without the one, we could not have the other. Your simple life frames your magnanimous death in a contrast too wonderful to be fully appreciated here, but soon, we’ll have eternity to talk about it together…