AN UNPRECEDENTED MOMENT
April 7, 2020 – by Pastor Kevin Van Wyhe
Alone on the top of the mountain ridge, the silence was defining. The brilliant yellow of the fall Aspen was beginning to reveal itself after being hidden under the dark blanket of night. With the sun just starting to rise on the horizon, the deep blue sky beckoned me to gaze upward. I could only marvel at the sea of blue above, as it contrasted with the warm fire-like glow of the snow-clad peaks all around. It felt as though the world was standing still at that very moment while I was experiencing an unforgettable one-on-one with the Creator of the universe. Not a cloud could be seen. I even remember noticing that there was not a trace of the ever-familiar white vapor lines of the high flying jets that often lined the striking Colorado sky.
With my morning devotions complete, I made my way back down to camp from the high ridgeline where I had just spent the last hour connecting with my Maker. The group of tents along with the dozen men I was leading were still lifeless on the ledge of the mountainside. It was now about 7:30 AM on September 12.
Little did I know that in just a few hours a huge surprise was awaiting us as we packed up camp and continued on our journey to conquer one of Colorado’s highest peaks. Soon we crossed the same meadow I had spent the morning on. I noticed that I had a couple of bars on my flip-style phone. After being out of service for more than 24 hours I thought this would be a perfect place for the guys to take a needed rest and a chance for me to check in on the home front. The moment my wife picked up the phone, I could tell in her voice that she was extremely stressed and overjoyed to hear from me. Without a chance to even ask how she was doing, the “unprecedented” happenings of the previous day were seared into my mind from over the airwaves of that call. As I learned that all flights in the entire country had been grounded, I immediately realized why my personal devotions that morning, in that very spot, seemed so extra solitary. It was now about 11:30 AM on September 12, 2001.
For most people in the United States, September 11, 2001, is a day that stands out among almost any other 24 hour period that they can remember. It was a day that stands tall with the other legendary moments of the past 100 years, like Ronald Reagan or JFK being shot, or the explosion of the Challenger space shuttle, or the attack on Pearl Harbor. For me and the 12 men I was with, September 11, 2001, was just another ordinary day. I often think back on that day as the time “I missed the biggest moment of my lifetime”. We literally missed it. We were among a handful of people that had no idea what had taken place.
One could argue that we are right now living through and experiencing another one of the pivotal points in history. The word “unprecedented” has been uttered over the last 3 weeks so many times that it no longer carries the weight that it really deserves.
Two days ago I resonated with a story on the news of a couple who had just completed a 21 day, unplugged journey through the Grand Canyon on the Colorado River. I knew exactly the weight they felt as they emerged from the ignorance of that isolated, cell-free canyon and were told that they had just missed one of the biggest events of their lives. As they learned that the world as they knew it had changed and a new future was now being scripted.
I can’t help but wonder if that was a little how the soldiers and the by-standers felt that legendary Friday 2000 years ago, as they stood at the foot of the cross. With the noon-day sun becoming dark as night. With the earth quaking violently in the very moment that Jesus breathed his last breath. I can’t help but believe that they felt the weight of that moment. They had to have realized that the ordinary event they thought they were going to witness that day had changed. Jesus’ final hours became extraordinary, an “Unprecedented” moment in their lives. The moment Jesus died and then rose again changed everything for all eternity. No other moment comes even close to being its equal.
45 From noon until three in the afternoon darkness came over all the land. 46 About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli,[c] lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”).[d]
47 When some of those standing there heard this, they said, “He’s calling Elijah.”
48 Immediately one of them ran and got a sponge. He filled it with wine vinegar, put it on a staff, and offered it to Jesus to drink. 49 The rest said, “Now leave him alone. Let’s see if Elijah comes to save him.”
50 And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit.
51 At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split 52 and the tombs broke open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. 53 They came out of the tombs after Jesus’ resurrection and[e] went into the holy city and appeared to many people.
54 When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, “Surely he was the Son of God!”
Thankfully the words, “Surely He was the Son of God!” uttered by the guards as they realized who Jesus was, does not have to be compared to the words, “I missed the biggest moment of my life”. Yes, when Jesus laid himself on the cross and gave his life as a ransom for our souls and then three days later stepped out of the tomb alive was the most profound, unforgettable, “unprecedented” moment that this world has ever known and will ever see. The magnitude of this tipping point of eternity can never be topped. Thankfully, you and I have been given the unbelievable chance to say, “We didn’t miss the biggest moment of our lives”. We have been given the profound invitation to share in Christ’s death, 2000 years ago, and experience the tipping point of eternity for ourselves today.
In this seemingly, “unprecedented” time of COVID 19, we need to be reminded in this Holy Week of remembering Christ journey to the top of the Golgotha, that there is truly only one event that stands out in all of history as eternally profound. Don’t wake up tomorrow having missed the biggest moment of your life. Let God speak to your soul today. If you have not yet done so, it is not too late. His great Love for you transcends anything that you feel would exclude you from sharing in this redemption story.
Romans 5:8 says,
“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this:
While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
Because God loves you so much, He sent his son to die for you!
As you place yourself, this week, at the foot of the Cross and in the entrance of the empty tomb, take it in and realize the weight.
Remember that this is the most “unprecedented” moment of all time. God is calling you and all you have to do is answer.
“Yes, I believe and trust in Jesus!”
and to declare,
“Truly He is the Son of God!”