Family, Marriage, Counsel
Converting Spring Malaise into Humility
by Ed Vasicek
Spring is a time of change. The weather changes and vacillates: sometimes March comes in like a lion and out like a lamb, other times it begins as a lamb and exits as a lion. Then there is the lion, lamb, lion, lamb, and finally lion pattern. You just do not know.
Spring is also a time of uncertainty, bold moves, and sometimes change for the sake of change. April is the top month for suicides. People argue, switch jobs, churches, and even marital partners in the spring. People make vows to make changes they cannot make immediately. Some authorities blame spring fever on barometric and/or other atmospheric changes. Do you ever get that sense of "spring malaise" when you are driving down a country road and just want to keep going? Spring fever is a reality.
A Vasicek Tradition
We Vasiceks try to do something special on Good Friday before the church service. We hold what we call a "Gentile Passover" to help us appreciate the meaning and heritage of what happened during that first Communion Service.
We begin our Gentile Passover celebration by reading a few verses describing Christ as the Lamb of God. Ed then hides one of three matzos somewhere in the house before we eat a meal of roast lamb.
After the meal, the kids look for the hidden matzo; whoever finds it gets a reward (usually a dollar bill). We then take that matzo, break it, and remember the Lord's body together. Afterward we take drink our small cups of grape juice, remembering the Lord's shed blood. We then close our special service in prayer.
The Jewish tradition of the Three Matzos is ancient indeed. The second matzo, which is hidden, represents the Messiah, the second Person of the Trinity who became man. Most of the people had it hidden from their eyes that He is the Messiah, but there is great reward for those who find Him. It was this "hidden manna" which Christ broke on the Passover night when He instituted the Lord's Supper.
Spring is that season of discontent. Discontent is not always bad, especially if we become discontent with ourselves. Most often, we project our discontent with ourselves at others: "I'd be happy if I had married the right person. I'd be more spiritual if I was in the right program or church. I'd be in clover if I made more money, lived in another town, or owned a different house." Discontent is on the "what's hot" list during the season when the flowers bud. And this discontent is usually nothing short of sin. But when we project our discontent toward ourselves instead of others, the result can be profitable. The Bible encourages us to "humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up" (James 4:10). What does it mean to humble ourselves in this way? I think it means to face the source of discontent: our sinful hearts. When we humble ourselves, we are more conscious of our transgressions and failings. Rather than comparing ourselves with others and gloomily resenting how much worse we have it than they do or how disappointed we are with life, we can choose to contrast ourselves with God. Like Isaiah the prophet we can say, "Woe is me, for I am undone!" God's holiness overwhelms us.
This time of year is ideal for humbling ourselves. True, the spring season stirs up those juices of discontent, but the holidays surrounding the Passion of Christ meld nicely with these seasonal vacillations. As we celebrate Palm Sunday, we think of Christ not only as the King, but also as the rejected King. The "Hosanna" crowd was sizable, but only a tiny percentage of Israel, the nation in which "He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him" (John 1:11). Even today, most people reject Jesus as Lord of their lives. That's tragic.
As we celebrate Good Friday, we contemplate it as a bittersweet holiday. The bitter agony of Calvary, a Messiah bleeding for our wrongs, is an astringent thought. What happened at Golgotha was tragic beyond description, yet the result of the Atonement will be a matter of praise and joy for eternity! The Lamb of God suffered and shed His blood, yet "by His stripes we are healed" (Isaiah 53:4). However we describe the events of the original Good Friday, one word covers it all: SOLEMN.
As we celebrate Good Friday here at HPC and participate in the Lord's Supper, consider making these observances part of a seasonal agenda of humbling yourself before the Lord. Spend extra time in self-examination and confession of sin. Face the ugliness of your transgressions and the stubbornness of your heart. Don't lash yourself with the whip of false pride masqueraded as humility (Colossians 2:23), for nothing is more humbling than pure truth. Simply face reality.
The truth is that God is holy and we fall shortway shortof His mark. But God is gracious and has offered us the provision of His Son's sacrifice. We are grateful, painfully aware of our unworthiness, yet convinced we have been accepted as perfect by God (Romans 5:1, Ephesians 1:6). After we have faced the darkness of our sin and the price Jesus had to pay for those iniquities, we are then ready to exuberantly celebrate the Resurrection of our Lord and Savior, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Because He lives, we too shall live. Forgiveness and eternal life are guarantees God will keep because it is the LIVING Savior who promises life to His sheep.
So this Spring, instead of trying to fix your life or take a fresh stab at Utopia, try to humble yourself before God. Compare yourself to the holiness of the Almighty: you'll lose the contest, but gain spiritual depth.
Reprinted from the April 2002 Body Builder, a publication of Highland Park Church.
Highland Park Church
516 West Sycamore Street
Kokomo, Indiana, USA