The central event of Christianity is Jesus’ crucifixion at a place called Calvary, and his resurrection three days later. So what? many ask.
There are three concepts that make sense to Christ-followers, but seem bizarre to those without faith: God is present in almost tangible ways in times of deepest pain and sorrow. Every loss carves out more room for God—if we invite him. And death is not something to be feared—something better waits.
“Going to Calgary,” read the subject line on my sister’s email to me.
I knew what that meant. Beverly’s close girlfriend, Bette, a Christ-follower of unusual strength and grace, has terminal cancer. Bette lives in Calgary, and it seems Bette will die in Calgary. Soon. She wants her friend close.
Beverly is with Bette now, doing all the important things to make her friend as comfortable as possible. She’ll take her to the edge of time, she’ll embrace her, then let God take over.
“Every so often she looks at me,” Beverly wrote, “and gives me a radiant smile. She still looks so beautiful then. Occasionally she cracks a joke about herself and it makes us smile and laugh. It’s an honour and privilege to be here with her.”
In the weeks ahead I know I’ll hear from my sister about that unusual sense of God’s nearness. A friend sent me a beautiful example of that this very morning.
Greg and Melody, a pair of young Christ-followers, met at an English Country Dance. They fell in love. Planned to marry. Instead, colon cancer stole Greg from Melody.
On a Facebook page called “Pray for Greg Wallace,” Melody wrote about a walk she took following Greg’s death…
“I hadn’t been gone long when the skies opened up and it began to rain again. Ducking under the overhang of one of the buildings downtown, I sat down to wait it out. The loneliness washed over me. Everything was so dark. So dreary. So cold. Then all of a sudden, the sun pierced the clouds, and a beautiful rainbow appeared directly in front of me, followed by a second one, directly over the first! Two perfect, shimmering arcs of brilliant light. As my artist’s eye rejoiced in the gorgeous colors, I thought, ‘Oh Lord, that’s beautiful!’
“That’s when I heard that quiet, gentle voice inside, “I have loved you with an everlasting love.” (Jeremiah 31:3) With those soft words echoing in my heart and two vibrant rainbows – symbols of hope and promise- shining in front of me, I could almost tangibly feel the presence of God. His arms reaching down to hold me. His love filling my soul with peace.”
Like Beverly, Bette and Melody, the faith of countless believers has injected light into shadowed valleys of death. Why? Because as John 3:16 says, “For God loved the world so much, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
What happened at Calvary makes “Going to Calgary” bearable—even holy.
Easter faith to you.