On the Side: March 2021
Lent, Sacrificed, and Alive
Laura McLean Thomas
The season of Lent has begun. Raised in the Baptist church, Lent wasn’t something that we celebrated, but I have always thought it was a beautiful way to prepare for Good Friday and Easter.
This Lent I have a confession. I confess that communion, and by extension Good Friday, was a frustration to me for a long time. I grew up in a Christian home; I accepted the Lord as a child. But through my childhood and into adulthood I wrestled with what it all really meant. I needed something more tangible to grasp the idea of “His body broken for me and His blood shed for me”.
I remember one specific incident, about 12 or 13 years ago. I was sitting alone in our church in Minnesota one Sunday (while my husband was working at the hospital). The bread and wine were being passed, and the pastor was reading through the text of the Last Supper. I bowed my head and finally came clean: “Lord, you know I don’t understand this, but I am doing it out of obedience to you.” Hidden in that simple prayer was a cry for God to help me understand.
He answered that prayer a couple years later. By now we were living in Pennsylvania for fellowship and one of my Side By Side sisters had lent me a book by Dr. Paul Brand, In His Image. In it, Dr. Brand explains the event which launched his medical career. As a young man he witnessed an emergency team working on a young woman who had been in a car accident. He describes how she looked utterly lifeless laying on the table, her skin so pale and waxy until they brought in the precious supply of donated blood and began feeding it through her veins. Then he watched, amazed, as her skin began to turn pink again, and it lost its sickly appearance. Then her eyes fluttered open. It was like seeing the dead come back to life.
As I read those words it was like I was hit by lightning.
This is it. This is what we are celebrating in communion! This is Good Friday! We are the lifeless bodies, dead in our transgressions until Jesus’ precious blood was donated to bring us back to life!
But that was not all. His body was also broken for us. He couldn’t just give us his blood; we needed his heart too. His holy blood couldn’t flow through our hard, uncircumcised hearts. As He promised in Ezekiel 11:19 “I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh.”
In order to truly save us Jesus had to be both our heart donor and our blood donor. Yet our God didn’t stop there.
At the end of a heart transplant procedure, after the new heart has been carefully planted into its new home, the surgeons often have to use an electric shock to get the new heart to start beating.
That is Easter.
On Easter, our Holy Surgeon shocked the world by conquering death, opening the grave, and starting all our new hearts beating once and for all.
So now, as we celebrate the last supper I am no longer frustrated or confused. I am full of thanks as I remember my Savior, my life giver, who allowed his heart to be broken so that I could have it, who gave his blood so that I could be brought back from death, and who jump-started my heart to beat to His rhythm. It is my prayer that this Easter season we are all united with His heartbeat.
The last 12 months have been so difficult—full of heartache, turmoil, and tragedy. But through it all we have a hope in Jesus that we can share: “For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.” (2 Corinthians 1:5)
God’s Blessings to you all,
Laura is a mother of three kids ages 18 to 9 and the cutest little 9-month-old Havanese puppy. She and her interventional/pulmonary/critical care husband have been married for 22 years, living in Palm Desert, CA for the last eight. She loves being involved in Side By Side and can’t wait for the pandemic to end so we can all be together again!