Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Trampling down Death by Death {Guest Post}

The following meditation on Hebrews 2:10-18 was written by my husband Allen for a church Lenten devotional in 2010. With his permission, I share it here in honor of his birthday. God grant you many years of good health and growth in knowing and loving Him, my Amore!

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
    I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
    your rod and your staff,
    they comfort me.
Psalm 23:4, ESV

O Lord, what is a shadow but the obscuring of what is real? It has no power other than to hide from my eyes the light of Your Truth. What is the valley but the place of my tomb, steep sides with no way of escape?

But You, out of love for me, entered into that valley. You, the True Light, entered into my darkness and have suffered through the valley before me lighting my way. You wept in darkness and so gave us joy. You felt hunger and nakedness and so tell us, "Do not worry about the body, what you will eat or wear" (Mt. 6:25). You were tempted in every way and yet said, "Satan, be gone..." (Mt. 4:10). You were spat upon and abused but said, "Father, forgive them..." (Luke 23:34). You suffered humiliation and so were glorified because "God gives grace to the humble" (James 4:6; 1 Peter 5:5). You entered into the very heart of death, but it could not hold You.

If only I would follow the path that You have illumined, then I would find the way to freedom and peace. Too often I want deliverance from the valley, but You have a greater vision. That path through the valley is my glory. The tears, weakness, temptations, humiliations, . . . You desire not so much to deliver me from them as to transform me through them. Going down to death You wait for me to follow that You might raise me up in glory. "Death, where is thy sting?" (1 Cor. 15:55).

Teach me, O Lord, to sing that ancient Easter hymn,*
 "Christ has risen from the grave
Trampling down death by death
And upon those in the tomb bestowing life."

*The Paschal Troparion (Easter hymn) is used widely in Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches. Its origin is unknown, but it may have been based on the Paschal Canon of St. John of Damascus in the 8th century.

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