The Whisper of a Name
The last few days have been nothing less than traumatic.
In the moments before sunrise, while the world was still quiet, she slowly and mournfully walked to the garden. The necessities needed for proper burial were heavy in her arms, much like the beating heart in her chest.
Approaching the tomb, that very same heart dropped as she took in the dark, empty space where her Jesus was placed two days before.
Weeping, she heard a familiar voice that calmed her brokenness and reminded her of who she was.
And in an instant, her focus was on Him; the past was behind her. And as the sun rose over the horizon, so did her vision of the road ahead.
“Now Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot.
They asked her, ‘Woman, why are you crying?’
‘They have taken my Lord away,’ she said, ‘and I don’t know where they have put him.’ At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus.
He asked her, ‘Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?’
Thinking he was the gardener, she said, ‘Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.’
Jesus said to her, ‘Mary.’
She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, ‘Rabboni!’ (which means “Teacher”).
Jesus said, ‘Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’
Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: ‘I have seen the Lord!’ And she told them that he had said these things to her.”
Forget the Former Things
As we embrace the beginning of a new year, we may find ourselves reflecting on the last season of our lives and how it has impacted us, good or bad.
And while that may help us to bring about change, we often stay there, dwelling on the past – our past mistakes, fizzled dreams, and disappointments.
Isaiah 43:18, in the NIV, says, “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.”
How do we cling to the past?
Most often, we dwell on our mishaps and make them our identities. We choose to make a home in the dark valleys of our souls when things don’t turn out like we thought they would. We harbor resentfulness and bitterness when someone we trust hurts us repeatedly.
And as valid as these things can be in the moment, what we need to keep us moving forward is Jesus calling our name.
Dwelling on the Past
Holding on to the past can hinder our discipleship in Christ.
This happens when we listen to the lies over the voice of the Holy Spirit. Or remembering the wrongs of others which cause us to become fearful, resentful, or bitter towards relationships.
When we focus on what didn’t work out or our shortcomings, we lose sight of God’s restorative and redemptive power, tarnishing our precious identities in Christ.
What Mary Teaches Us About Looking Ahead
Mary Magdalene is no stranger to hardship.
She, at one time, hosted seven demons in her body (Mark 16:9), which most likely resulted in physical and psychological illness. She also was a woman in first-century Middle Eastern culture in which women were considered property and their testimonies invalid. And as an essential part of the early church, she was at risk of losing her life for the sake of Christ.
Mary, most likely fearful in the remembrance of her past, experienced an instant heart change in the garden that Sunday morning.
As she heard her beloved Savior speak her name, life was breathed back into her spirit.
She remembered her new identity and the unconditional love of Christ that poured over her life, past, present, and future.
And you, dear daughter, can have the same.
Thank you for being the God of my past, present, and future. As I embrace this new year with You, help me to pause, slow down, and remember Your goodness from and in every season. And may I constantly be reminded of my identity when the days seem long, and my circumstances are hard. I praise You yesterday, today, and in the days to come. In Jesus’ name, Amen.