By Lindsey Feldpausch
“Why do you look for the living among the dead?” ~Luke 24:5 NIV
When Jesus died, rocks split. The curtain of the temple tore apart. Tombs broke open. After all the ripping, tearing, and quaking of the cross, what was left?
The living and the dead.
Everything most important emerged in that moment. Shaking does that. It can jolt you awake, cleanse your perspective or sift away the trivial.
I had a shaking experience once. It was about three years ago on a Friday night. My husband and I were driving separately. Both our vehicles were packed with gear. We were heading to a campsite. I was stopped at a red light. My husband was just ahead of me. He had made it through the light. Suddenly, my glasses flew off my face. I heard myself scream wildly before I knew what was happening. My hat jumped forward. Metal crunched. My head jolted forward and then back against the driver’s seat.
We had been hit.
I turned to the back of the van to see my kids, “Is everyone okay?”
I looked at each of my four kids’ faces and some whimpered a “yes” while some just nodded. I got out of the car to assess the damage. All of our camping gear had exploded out the back of the van. Our entire back windshield was gone. Glass everywhere. We had been rear-ended before, yielding minor damage to a bumper, but this. This was a wreck. One of my kids turned to look out the back through the windowless frame. I couldn’t believe how close the kids were to the impact. Instead of stopping and allowing that to sink in, I kept surveying the scene. I turned again to see the car that hit me. It was a Ford Excursion. The driver emerged. She apologized. We both asked if everyone in each vehicle was okay. Yes.
My eyes went to the debris in the road. I squinted into headlights to see what was fluttering wildly on the pavement. Ziploc bags. A package of plastic bags had opened in the crash. I had just bought a new package and thrown them in the back along with the rest of our gear. How many bags are in one box? A hundred? They were flying out like little windsocks that couldn’t wait to be set free. Only they didn’t look like windsocks. They looked like arrogant trash renegades being scattered and ruining the environment. Of all the things for my mind to center on in that moment, I instantly fixed upon the flapping plastic bags. I had to pick them up. I started reaching for them, pinning the captured ones under my arm and sometimes losing ones I had already grabbed.
That’s how my husband found me.
I was in the middle of the road, senselessly, frantically, inefficiently picking up plastic bags. “Lindsey, honey,” he shouted. “Get out of the road!” I looked toward the sea of headlights and saw my husband slowly walking toward me. “Honey, there is glass all over, come out of the road!” It was pandemonium.
I stepped toward him, crunching carefully across the lanes and reaching out a hand. He pulled me into his chest. He scanned my body, touching my ears and patting my sides searching for signs of injury. “Did you check the kids?”
Kids? Oh my goodness, the kids. How long had I been collecting bags?
I watched my husband as he moved smoothly and surely toward the van. He swung open the door and began pulling out the kids one by one. As he lifted them from the car, he brushed off glass from their shirts, hugged them, and looked them over as he had done to me.
No one was hurt. Our vehicle was totaled, but we replaced it. Life went on.
Today, as I look back on that night I see the same thing you probably see. The only thing that mattered was whether all the people involved had survived. The van didn’t matter. The sleeping bags didn’t matter. The glass didn’t matter. the Ziploc bags flying free didn’t matter. My kids mattered. But instead of consoling them and pulling them out of harm’s way, I left them in the van and went to gather the most un-eternal, inexpensive, short-lived article involved in the crash.
When Jesus rose from the dead, some women came to the empty tomb searching for Jesus’ body. Two gleaming men asked this unforgettable question, “Why do you look for the living among the dead?” (Luke 24:5b NIV)
That night in Texas when we were hit, I was doing just the opposite. I was looking for the dead among the living. My focus couldn’t help but land on what was flailing in the wind. Likewise, our daily lives involve plenty of urgent tasks that make a big scene but are meaningless in the end. Life is cluttered with plastic bags flying. As we celebrate our risen Savior, let’s not forget how the earth shook and how, in the midst of the quaking, all that mattered was the living and the dead. I don’t say this because I know how to do this. I say this because I once found myself at an intersection aimlessly collecting plastic bags while my kids; my most precious gifts were sprinkled with shattered glass in the backseat.
Let’s resist chasing the plastic bags. Let’s cease focusing on what’s flailing in the moment and let us instead fix our eyes on the hidden things that will prove to be the only things that matter in eternity.
Dear heavenly Father, give us eyes to see the most important things each day. Allow us to be overwhelmed and shaken to the core with the truth of what tomorrow means. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.
Scripture for reflection:
“So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” – 2 Corinthians 4:18 NIV
Reach for More
Please come back and leave a comment telling us about a time this week you chose to focus on the eternal even if something else was blatantly urgent but inconsequential. We’d love to hear how God spoke to you this week on social media, too, using the hashtag #tgtreachformore.
Lindsey Feldpausch is a creative writer, graphic design enthusiast, social media coordinator, and sinner saved by grace who lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Her worship leader/youth pastor husband and four delightful kiddos fill life with unbelievably amusing quotes and sweet snuggles. She thinks God is awesome and that the best adventure starts with saying yes to that still, small voice.
Photograph © Mike Kotsch, used with permission