There are certain dividing lines in life. A before and an after. Moments that hang in our memories and that mark a shift or a change in direction. These freeze frames shadow us and inform us going forward.
We look to these moments in times of despair and disaster. They carry us through the waves and winds of life and can propel us through the hardest of times. In Luke 22 we find Jesus hanging from the cross and a crowd witnessing his last breath. Darkness falls, the temple curtain torn, and Jesus utters his last words “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit”.
A Roman Centurion at this moment experiences this before and after. At this moment he recognizes the power and righteousness of Jesus on the cross. I believe that this a moment that the Centurion and all those in attendance will pass along to their communities. Under the threat of persecution, they’ll share in hushed tones in the quiet of night. With boldness and bravery, they’ll stand in open defiance of those in authority that would hope to quiet the revealed Kingdom of God. These are the sparks that light the flame of the Church.
How clear these moments are! How precious these moments are! How rare these moments are! I don’t know about you but these moments and that dividing line are murkier for me. My faith journey isn’t filled with supernatural healings, irregular lunar events, or the tearing of Holy objects. I’ve never heard God speak audibly to me. In fact, most of the time God can feel distant.
My experience with Jesus has mostly been in the quiet still moments. The moments where I’m weighed down by grief, When I feel as if I’m at the end of my rope, and when I see no way out. It’s in these moments where even in suffering I feel as if I tread on Holy ground. When the miraculous isn't just the supernatural but the very-natural!
These are the dividing lines for me. When a marriage is restored, when reparations for pain are made, and when forgiveness is given. These are the moments when that future Kingdom of God that we are promised intersects with the reality we currently live in. When the promised but not yet breaks into our present and transforms our hearts and circumstances.
These are the moments I look for now. No longer am I looking around for the “Centurion” moments (although I hope they come)! I’ve found in the stillness, in the grief, and in the pain, I'll be able to look at Jesus and repeat the Centurion “Surely this is a righteous man”!