And Then, Sunday…

“Then Came Sunday,” © 2018 Lynn Abbott Studios. Used with Permission.

© 2018 Lynn Abbott

Grief can be a dark place.  Or as David so aptly described it in the immortal Psalm, we walk through “the valley of the shadow of death,” (Psalm 23:4).

I think its capable of such devastation because, after all, we are not wired for grief.  Indeed, God’s perfect plan for humanity never included death.

However, the first couple’s blatant disobedience in Eden’s garden changed all that; both sin and death entered the world.  And grief clutched humanity’s heels.

Indeed, the valley of shadow sometimes feels like a steep ravine.

Darkness closes in, and you and I feel lost… and even alone.

I imagine the disciples felt very alone immediately after the cross.

Peter and John had been eye witnesses to the demands of the angry mob: “Crucify Him!”  The courtyard rang with the mob’s chant.

At times, the valley of shadow  feels like a steep ravine.

The love expressed by the crowd on Palm Sunday swiftly slipped away.

In its place, hatred loomed.

It’s no wonder Peter feared for his life.  There was no telling where the mob’s madness would end.

And although Peter and John could not boast in a university education or in a thorough understanding of social science, they had enough sense to know that they were next on the hit list.

Fear certainly compounded their grief. And there was plenty of grief to go around.  Their beloved Rabbi had been crucified.

All their hopes, dreams and convictions rattled to the core. Jesus–of whom Peter had said, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God,” (Matthew 16:16)–had been executed by the most brutal means of the day.

And Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus had buried Jesus.

What was it that Jesus had said in His final moments?

It is finished…

In that dark hour, some may have said, “Yeah, Jesus got that right.  It is done.  The messianic dream is over.”

Some fled Jerusalem (Mark 14:27; Zechariah 13:7).

Those, remaining in Jerusalem, hid.

Yet, on Sunday morning, Mary Magdalene dared a visit to the tomb.  John writes that it was “still dark.”

The love expressed by the crowd on Palm Sunday had swiftly slipped away.

Actually, it’s not surprising that she returned to the tomb while it was yet dark.  After all, being associated with Jesus had become extremely dangerous.

But visiting the tomb was a risk that Mary had to take.  Her grief demanded it.

She may have worried on the walk about how she would approach the tomb.  After all, a guard had been set and the governor’s seal given.

Nearing the tomb, she likely caught her breath.  Not only were the soldiers gone but the stone had been removed.

In her shock, she forgot the purpose of her journey.  She immediately ran to find Peter and John.

“They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid Him,” she cried, (John 20:2).

And Peter and John immediately ran to the tomb.

Discovering the empty tomb, they believed Mary’s report, (John 20:8).  Yet, Scripture notes they did not yet understand the Resurrection, (John 20: 9).

So they went home; initially, no more enlightened than they had been before Mary’s announcement.  The change in events probably perplexed them.

Fear certainly compounded their grief.

Mary had evidently followed Peter and John to the sepulcher.  Perhaps, she was anxious to see her report confirmed.

I’m sure that heartbroken Mary tried to defend her claims.

It was all more than most could bear…

Her beloved Messiah had died on a cross; her closest friends had dismissed her.

Pushing back tears, she stood watching Peter and John enter the tomb.  At least her report was vindicated.

Nevertheless, I’m sure hurt and grief overwhelmed her.  Lost and alone even among friends.

Empty, like the tomb.  Darkness threatened her emotional landscape.

When Peter and John left, Mary remained.    Tears flowed.  The water dam broke.

Yet, in that moment, Grace dawned softly, (John 20:11).

It did not condemn.  It did not condescend. It did not lecture.

Two angels sat in the tomb… noting her distress, they asked, “Why are you weeping?”

Mary spilled her heart,”Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him,” (John 20:13).

Yet, in that moment, Grace dawned softly, (John 20:11).

She turned, perhaps to leave.  And there standing quietly was someone she presumed to be the gardener.

Again, a gentle, quiet, tender and compassionate voice met her in her dark hour.

“Woman, why are you weeping?  Whom are you seeking?” He asked, (John 20:15).

Mary pleaded, “Sir if you have carried Him away, tell me where you have laid Him, and I will take Him away.”

In that moment, Grace flooded Mary’s horizon… light overcame the darkness.

One soft word… a gentle, verbal nudge–“Mary!”

And Mary cried, “Rabboni!”  Teacher. 

She had nearly missed her Savior.  In deep grief, she had not immediately recognized Him.

Even so, He was there, ready to give comfort and hope to His heartbroken child.

He slipped in softly.  He walked with Mary in her garden of grief.  And gradually, grace illuminated her path.

The Light of the World rose.  Sin and Death had been defeated.

And Mary found hope.

Without a doubt, Christ’s resurrection changed everything.  Not only did Christ live, but His sacrifice enabled our resurrection hope.  His scars ushered in Grace beyond all this world had ever known, (Isaiah 53:6).

The Light of the World rose.  Sin and Death had been defeated.

“But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him. By His scourging we are healed,” the prophet wrote, (Isaiah 53:5).

His scars… proof of the battle our Savior has won.

On Thursday, the crowds had clamored for His crucifixion.  On Friday, still others shouted abuse and mocked Him.

Thunder roared and the earth quaked, announcing the completion of God’s sacrifice for sin.

But as Sunday morning dawned, Jesus announced His Resurrection quietly…to a heartbroken Mary.  Her Savior softly called her name…

Grace.  Gentle grace.

When you and I feel we cannot go on, when pain threatens to shatter our hearts, when the world seems a dark tunnel or an impenetrable ravine, our Sovereign-Shepherd calls tenderly:  I am here.

The empty tomb brings comfort like no other.

In the darkness, grace nudges … “My child,” He quietly calls.

And as we cry, “Rabboni!”– we see light filling the horizon.

Indeed, Great Grace calls us out of our great grief.  And even though we yet temporarily traverse “the valley of the shadow,” we do not walk alone.

Our resurrected Savior assures us, “… I am with you always…” (Matthew 28:19).

“The righteous cry and the LORD hears, And delivers them out of all their troubles.  The LORD is near to the brokenhearted, And saves those who are crushed in spirit,” ~Psalm 34:17-18

100 thoughts on “And Then, Sunday…

  1. A demanding grief. Shock. Fear. Grace.

    He slipped in softly. He walked with Mary in her garden of grief. And gradually, grace illuminated her path. Love Manifest Himself and has a Name …

    Your weaving of words is on par with your colour pallette m’lady. Thank you x

    Liked by 3 people

    • And your words here, Warren, are incredibly beautiful and powerful! Thank you, thank you for sharing your gift through this beautiful comment! And thank you for your kindness toward me! I have long worked in hope that my words and art might be an equal pairing… Thus, your encouraging words here particularly mean more to me than you can possibly imagine! Thank you with all my heart! Happy Resurrection Day to you!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. This has to be one of the most beautiful piece I have ever read. Felt goosebumps all over me. Everything about the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is mind blowing and filled with lessons. I love how you painted this picture with words. Thanks for this Lynn! Thanks!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Oh, I’m so very glad, dear Efua, because that is exactly how I feel when I read the Scriptures and recall the death and resurrection of our Lord! Thank you; thank you for so thoughtfully sharing your response here! That means the absolute world to me! God bless you, my extraordinary friend!! Happy Resurrection Day to you! ❤ and hugs!!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. My dear friend…..what a wonderful writing….what an awe inspiring piece of art. It is now my favorite of all your pieces. God is using you in miraculous ways. And His Word is being made known….all because of your gifts. What a moving way to approach Easter Sunday. Thank you for sharing so much of yourself…with the rest of the world. God is so good. All…the…time. Happy Easter……. Carol Haynes

    Liked by 3 people

    • Oh, dearest Carol! You know that your encouragement means the absolute world to me! Not only do I admire your beautiful art, but I am also inspired by your passion for Christ and your devotion to boldly proclaiming His Truth! Thank you with all my heart for your kind words and extraordinary encouragement! What a wonderful gift from God your friendship is! Love you much!! Happy Resurrection Day to you and Jim!! ❤ ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Lynn, this brought tears to my eyes. It was like I was right there in the garden, witnessing the event firsthand. You have such an amazing gift to paint a picture with equal skill on canvas and on paper.

    Speaking of your painting, it is stunning, as they all are. Did you do it with a palette knife, or with brushes? I have very little experience with the palette knife myself, but a friend of mine uses it a lot, and this kind of looks like that.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Oh, Angela, you are way too good to me, but I thank you from the bottom of my heart!! Your thoughtfulness means the world to me!

      About the painting… this is actually alla prima brushwork… In other words, I painted very quickly with oil and thus, wet on wet…something I do a lot of with my plein air work. This painting actually is just a small study (10×10 on canvas board) since my time is very limited right now with trying to help pack my son for his move into the garden apartment that will be his home for the next three years. I was feeling a bit overwhelmed and so I decided to post the study.

      Because it is smaller than most of my paintings, I could photograph it up close… and so you see all my loose brushwork. I generally use very loose brush work with all my paintings, but as you step further away from the paintings, that brush work isn’t noticeable (as is typical with impressionistic stye). Since I like to work large, most of my paintings have to be photographed further back, and so the brushwork generally isn’t noticeable for my online posts…unless I post a very small painting… and this happens to be just that, small.

      I like using the palette knife, however. I use it a lot, but generally also use my brushes alongside my knife work. I know that many artists will use one or the other predominantly–knife or brush. But I tend to use both simultaneously in a piece… working back and forth. Is that how your friend does? It sounds as though that might be the case from your description.

      Oh, I bet we could talk writing and art for hours! Next time you are going to be in the Virginia Beach area, let me know. (I noticed some of your photos are from there). VA Beach isn’t that far. We might meet up for lunch or something! Happy Resurrection Day to you, my talented friend! ❤ and hugs!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you for telling me about your paintings. I have done very few large pieces, but aim to go larger. I have a few 16×20 and one triptych that is a total of 24×42. I long to paint that scene again on a single canvas.

        My friend used the palette knife exclusively for the 30 in 30 challenge, to get comfortable with it, but now she also combines knife with brush. From what I can tell, she uses the brush on her subjects and the palette knife on the background in the series she is currently painting.

        I was in Virginia Beach for New Year’s for a wedding, and though I intend to go back at some point, I don’t know when just yet. But I will definitely look you up when I do go back! If only we had “met” when I still lived there!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Interesting that she uses the palette knife on the background as its use usually means a great build up of paint that draws the eye. She must use it in a buttery/soft way as opposed to large chunky, impasto-like strokes. I’d love to see her work! Sounds pretty amazing. Oh, large canvases… they certainly require a lot of patience and time. But I like working with the larger brushes and so I “torture” myself with extremely large canvases (48×48; 48×60, etc…I’m so ridiculous…*rolling eyes*).

        But I’m sure you could easily make the leap from smaller canvases to larger, Angela! If you’ve worked on a triptych, you have a good feel for working larger. Sounds like the triptych would be a wonderful place to start! I’ll bet it’s fantastic!

        Oh… you lived in VA Beach? We’ve lived in Northern VA on and off for the last 25 years. It’s too bad I hadn’t met you online before now! So glad you’ll let me know next time you get up here! 🙂 It would be super to meet up! Have a beautiful week! See you at your blog soon! ❤ and hugs!!

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Praise the Lord, Jesus!!!! Lynn, I think you did a beautiful way of capturing grief in words. Those whose hearts are burdened and hurt can relate to this. I think this is one of the best descriptions I’ve read when talking about the tomb and Christ’s resurrection because it is not about the retelling of the story, though important 🙂 , your words paint the picture of the emotions and distraught going on, which we all can relate to.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. You tell a most vivid story with your words. I was the soloist for The Last Seven Words of Christ many years ago. It made a greater impact on me by singing them. Your painting of the tomb is just beautiful! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, thank you with all my heart, Miriam!! Your encouragement means the world to me! I so wish I could have heard you sing in the “The Last Seven Words of Christ.” I’ll bet your voice is absolutely beautiful! You are so multi-talented! ❤ and hugs!!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you, Lynn. I admire your painting. I like landscape. I like light and water in yours. I’m a beginner of watercolor. Painting is something I always wanted. I bought books and videos 20 years ago. But I was busy working all my life until retired. If not for cancer, I might have worked for a couple more years. ❤

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      • Oh, I bet your watercolors are beautiful, Miriam! Your photography is lovely and so I know you have a wonderful eye for composition! I’m so glad you have the opportunity to pursue painting now. Yeah, cancer changed my life, too! I’m so sorry, my friend, that you have endured it as well. Have you completed treatment or is it ongoing? Prayers for you. ❤ and huge hugs!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you for asking and praying, Lynn. Yes, I have completed the treatment 8 years ago. and lymphedema and physical therapies for two years.
        I’m living an extended life. Now I go to the melanoma specialist every 6 month, CT/PET once a year, dermatologist from every 6 month to now once a year, and other regular wellness check once a year. I have chronic lymphedema on my left leg and wear full length compression stocking daily.

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  7. Not only is your painting so beautiful, your comforting words bring hope to the grief-stricken. I particularly like your quote, “When you and I feel we cannot go on; when pain threatens to shatter our hearts; when the world seems a dark tunnel or an impenetrable ravine, our Sovereign-Shepherd calls tenderly: I am here.” Quite a few of my coaching clients are experiencing grief, therefore, I’ve been learning a lot about it and the impact it has on those whose hearts hurt from loss. I love how the Lord is patient with us as we grieve and He gently shows us His presence in the midst of our hopelessness. Thank you, Lynn, for your wisdom and gentle spirit. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • We comfort with the comfort with which we have been comforted–isn’t that just so, dear Marcie? My heart is especially for the grieving, dear Marcie. I suspect that is why this particular account of the resurrection so resonates with me. Your coaching clients are so blessed to meet with you! Your wisdom and compassion touch the hearts of all who know you! God bless you, my wonderful friend!! ❤ and hugs!!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. “When you and I feel we cannot go on, when pain threatens to shatter our hearts, when the world seems a dark tunnel or an impenetrable ravine, our Sovereign-Shepherd calls tenderly: I am here.” Thank you for this beautiful reminder, Lynn!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Great post, Lynn. I like when you said, “At times, the valley of shadow feels like a steep ravine.” The Valley of the Shadow of Death can feel so steep that it seems impossible that we can get out, but if we put our trust and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; nothing is impossible. So, even when we are going through the valleys in our lives, all we should do is lift our heads to the Father and know that by going through the valley; we will be made spiritually stronger because of it.

    I like when you said, “… in that moment, Grace dawned softly, (John 20:11). It did not condemn. It did not condescend. It did not lecture.” God’s grace doesn’t lecture, condescend, or condemn us; but God’s grace comforts us in our moments of weakness and sadness. God’s grace reminds us that “it’s okay. Everything is alright.”

    “… In deep grief, she had not immediately recognized Him.” Grief can do that to us as Christians. When we are so stuck in our grief, we can miss the shining and penetrating light of Jesus’s grace over our situation(s) in a gentle whisper. We have to sometimes combat the grief in our lives with the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, because if not, the grief we feel will overcome us.

    Some of my favorite quotes that I liked in your post include:

    1). “When you and I feel we cannot go on, when pain threatens to shatter our hearts, when the world seems a dark tunnel or an impenetrable ravine, our Sovereign-Shepherd calls tenderly: I am here.”

    2). “In the darkness, grace nudges … “My child,” He quietly calls. And as we cry, “Rabboni!”– we see light filling the horizon.”

    3). “…Great Grace calls us out of our great grief. And even though we yet temporarily traverse “the valley of the shadow,” we do not walk alone.

    4). “Our resurrected Savior assures us, “… I am with you always…” (Matthew 28:19).”

    One of the paragraphs at the end of your post talked about Jesus’s grace walking with Mary in her grief. That’s the same for us today, when we are grieving; Christ will walk with us in our grief, comforting us and giving us hope for a better tomorrow.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, thank you, Josh! Your thoughtful comments are always such a blessing to me since you identify with specificity the points which particularly spoke to you! And that is very helpful to me as I grow as a blogger! So thank you with all my heart for your kind and thoughtful comment here and on so many of my posts in the past! Your friendship is truly a blessing. God bless you big time! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you so much for the comment, Lynn. Your blog posts are full of teachings and kife experiences. Through your blog posts, it gives me hope for a better and stronger relationship with the Father .

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      • You are very kind, Josh! Thank you with all my heart! You already have a wonderful ministry… and your devotion to the Word and a thorough study of it will certainly be blessed in your ministry to come! You are an inspiration!

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  10. After Saturday (the day in-between) I cannot imagine their joy at finding the empty tomb! Isn’t HE wonderful! Oh the joy then, and the wonderful joy now!
    I so love love your picture you show here! Wish I had it hanging in my office. It is so beautiful. You do beautiful work Lynn and thank you for sharing! Blessings friend.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, I completely agree with you! Their joy must have been overwhelming! And thank you with all my heart for your thoughtful words regarding my art! That means the world to me. One of these days, I’ll get around to making prints available of some of my paintings along with Scripture. Just haven’t figured out how to get the best quality for the most economical price 😉 I’ll let you know if I can figure it out 🙂 Love and huge hugs!!

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  11. Pingback: Community Spotlight | April ’18 – Inside Cup

    • Thank you so very much for referencing my post, dear TR! This post means so much to me, and it it such a blessing to know that you have shared it with your amazing readership! Love you, my talented and thoughtful friend!! ❤ ❤

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