We don't have to let the hurts of life define us if the Lord gives us a way through Him for redemption.
All right. What a blessing to be able to share this time together. Hey if you’re joining us for the first time, I’m Pastor Terry, I’m the Lead Pastor here at Cornerstone Church in San Francisco. And what a blessing for all of us to be able to share this time together, coming off of Easter, God has so much for us and I’m looking forward to where we’re going with the rest of our time.
You know, we started the year out by focusing. Uh, on the theme of breakthrough. And now we’re pivoting a little bit to a new theme. Something we’re going to sit with for the next few months, the theme of surrender. And I realize that for some of us surrender is an interesting word. It can almost feel like a weak word.
It almost has a sense that it can sometimes feel like it’s kind of a defeatist word, you know, like, like, uh, an army that surrendering or a business that is succumbing to a hostile takeover, or, um, when we find ourselves in a situation where we just feel like we can’t do it anymore and we want to give up and quit. We stop trying, um, you know, we kind of surrender and walk away.
It could be from a relationship again. I’ve seen people do it in their own walk with God, right? Because it was hard. And instead of, of getting back up and facing it just kind of surrender to the circumstances and let the defeat define us. That’s not God’s will for us. I want to say that, you know, there’s another side of the word surrender.
It’s the side that we’re going to sit with. I call it the strong side of the word and it has everything to do with, um, a willingness to let go of things that are holding us back to surrender them to the Lord and to trust Him with possibility. So it has more to do with yielding that old phrase, let go and let God, and it has, it has with it, the idea of being open to what the Lord would want to do.
If we would let Him who would stop clutching and holding and, and instead open up our hands and allow Him to have His way. I think it’s a, it’s a worship word. I surrender to you, Lord, uh, yield myself. I’m open. That’s what it’s saying. In fact, I’d just love for us to pray right now, even, even as we start our time here and just Lord, I, I would ask that You would help us to surrender anything that might be getting in the way of what it is You’re trying to work in or out of us.
Teach us Lord, the, the beauty of surrender, even as You modeled it, when You surrender Your will to the Father, when You said not My will, but Yours be done or teach us the wisdom of Your ways, teach us the power in trusting You with provision. Help us Lord to. Just allow You to have Your way in our lives.
And even now we ask that You would use this Word to bless us. So we give You our thoughts. We give You our attentiveness. We worship You in this time by having an openness of heart and a listening ear, and we pray Your blessing in Jesus’ name. We ask it. Amen. You know, um, over the next few weeks, we’re going to actually be pushing forward even more so into this theme of surrender.
And you know, we’re going to try to blend that with the incidents that occurred. Around, uh, well, right after the resurrection of Jesus. And so we’re going to, that’s going to allow us to look at a lot of different things. We’re going to talk about surrendering our fears. For example, we can talk about surrendering our doubts, you know, as we sit with Thomas, I can talk about surrendering your dreams and surrendering our identity, right?
So this can go in so many beautiful ways. It’s almost like we have hills to climb and, uh, you know, we’re to, we’re going to enjoy our time together as we allow the Lord to speak to us. But specifically today, I want to talk about surrendering our tears and, um, I, in my mind, the tears has to do with when we feel loss or the hurts of life.
Um, the places of sorrow, uh, places of, of where we feel defeated and broken down the places of suffering, the hard places, the places of tears. And those are the places I think that when you find yourself in them, it’s hard to be joyful and it’s hard to move forward. Sometimes it feels like your feet are in quicksand, right?
Because. It’s hard. It’s hard to just move on. And I think one of the things the Lord does is he invites us to surrender our tears to Him. Um, we are invited to surrender our tears to a God who calls us to see life through the lens of His love and provision. Who invites us to run free. If I can put it this way in the expansive greenfields of His amazing grace, the One who invites us to.
To be a mountain climber and a spiritual explorer, and to soar with wings like eagles, you know, to grow like a tree planted by the rivers of water. I mean, I’m full of metaphors. I know part of that is connected to the background, which I love by the way, the idea of connecting to, uh, the Sierras and, uh, a place that I really love Yosemite and just feels right as we sit here in spring and make our way towards the summer.
Talking about growing. And so much of growing is connected to surrendering. At least that’s how it is in our life with the Lord, but let’s return once more to that first day, John 20, when the morning broke open, and really that morning was the first morning of a new beginning. Um, it changed, it changed the resurrection of Jesus changed everything, and we’re going to pivot right off of that and look at this theme of ours and explore it through the lens of what happened immediately.
After the Lord’s resurrection, what it says here in John 20 verse one early on Sunday morning, that first Sunday, while it was still dark, that tells you something Mary Magdalene, who loved the Lord, whose life had been transformed by His touch, Mary Magdalen, who is mentioned in some cases more than the majority, or at least many of the, the apostles themselves.
I don’t think there’s any woman even mentioned more than Mary Magdalene than Mary, the mother of Jesus. I mean, she is a prominent, significant figure in the New Testament. Uh, and her presence here speaks to a devotion that float out of a heart that had been deeply rooted in gratitude for what the Lord had done in her life.
She couldn’t change the fact that Jesus had died and the way that He had died, even for her, a woman who had seen hard and ugly things, we were pretty confident that Mary had been very exposed to the rough side of life. And, you know, that’s probably why she loved much, you know, the one who is forgiven much loves much.
That’s what Jesus said and to watch the Lord be so brutally broken and bloodied and, and ultimately died. I mean, she just, she just wanted to honor Him as, as a, more than a few of the, of the women did. And, and it says that while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and she was expecting, I don’t know, I don’t know what she was exactly expecting.
Um, maybe she was going to ask that she would be allowed permission to anoint the dead body of Jesus, but she found that the stone had been rolled away from the end entrance and there was nobody there. And so what she did before even going in, we’re told that she ran in verse two and found Simon Peter, and the other disciples that would be John.
That’s how he describes himself in the third person, the other disciple, or sometimes he calls himself the disciple whom Jesus loved, which I love that, but oh, there it is. Yeah, the one whom Jesus loved and she said they have taken the Lord’s body out of the tomb. And, and we don’t know where they are put Him and upon hearing the news, Peter and the other disciples, Peter and John started out for the tomb and they were both running.
That’s the picture we have here, but John says, but the other disciple himself, outran Peter and reached the tomb first. We know John was younger and he was in better shape. Verse five, he stooped and looked in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he didn’t go in. It was something though that caught his attention.
Then Simon Peter arrived, and he did what John did not do true to form Peter pushed his way in probably breathing heavily. Get out of my way! Let me in here. And he also noticed the linen wrappings that were lying there as if what was in them had just disappeared. They were just lying in their folds while the cloth that had covered Jesus’s head was folded up.
With intention and lying apart from the other wrappings, whatever had happened here, it wasn’t some random unwrapping and violation of Jesus’s body. No, it was something far more profound. Then the disciple who had reached the tomb first also went in and he saw when he saw what the, what had happened with the cloth that had been wrapped around Jesus’s body.
And the shroud that was now folded, that had been on his head. It says that he believed he saw and believed. Verse nine for, until then they still hadn’t understood the scriptures that Jesus said, Jesus must rise from the dead. Even though Jesus had told them on more than a few occasions, He would rise.
They had always assumed that that had something to do with eternal things or what would happen in the last day, the day of resurrection or that Jesus was speaking in some metaphorical term. But now they understood. He meant it literally. And you know, I look at that, oh, that 10th verse don’t miss it is pretty good.
Then they went home. I’ve always loved. I mean, there’s something about it, you know, the way it’s just thrown in there about it’s matter of factness that strikes me in the middle because this is what I see in the midst of the miraculous, there’s the mundane. In the midst of the miracle resurrection of Jesus we have.
And then they went home and isn’t that where most, uh, faith is lived out. Isn’t it in the ordinary places of life at work and at home, in the dailiness of our living. I think that’s, that’s good for us. In any case we’re told in verse 11, that when they went home, Mary just felt compelled to linger. And Mary was standing outside the tomb and she was crying.
The whole thing seem to have come to a crescendo, uh, her emotions overwhelming her. I can’t even honor Him. And as she wept, she stooped and looked in and what she saw caught her off guard because she saw what the other gospels call refer to as two men, it says she saw two white robed angels. They look like men, one sitting at the head and the other at the foot of the place where the body of Jesus had been lying.
So in this small tomb, there are two men in there and they seeing her, has she seen them? They say, dear woman, why are you crying? Look, the first 13, the angels asked her because they have taken away, my Lord, her first inclination is just to answer the question and I don’t know where they’ve put Him. She’s so troubled.
She turned to leave and it didn’t even dawn on her that these were, it didn’t seem like that these were angelic beings. She just assumed they were men. And she had answered their question and she turned to leave and she saw someone standing there and we’re told it was Jesus, but she didn’t recognize Him.
And there are times in my loss when I didn’t know it. I think maybe you can relate to me here. I couldn’t see it, but Jesus was right there with me. I just didn’t recognize the Lord, right? Sometimes in our places of greatest loss, when things are swirling around us and we’re not processing things properly or, you know, sensibly or it’s just things don’t even add up and we’re not even aware of it.
It’s just, our minds are struck by the sensation of what we can’t have and what, what has been taken from us. And in those places, I’ve found that, that we may not always recognize it, but the Lord is right there with us. And I love the fact that Mary didn’t recognize it. She didn’t recognize Jesus though.
He was right there. She was looking for the one who was actually right there next to her. She just didn’t see it. Dear woman, why are you crying? You know, we, I found myself relating to those words. Maybe some of you can really relate to those words. I mean, this has been for all of us, a season of loss last year, and now these opening months for some of us, it’s been a season of compounding loss.
Not only have we had the normal losses of life, but we’ve had on top of it, this season of loss, this whole COVID pandemic has been brutal combined with the political polarization and the tension points of culture in our nation. It’s just been very hard and maybe we’ve also been almost overwhelmed because in our own personal life, we’ve experienced loss.
Now, it may be that some of us haven’t experienced as much loss as someone else, but, but for a lot of us, this has been a season of tears. And although I realize not all of us, but it has been for many a season, and I know, because some of you tell me a season of compounding loss. In Mary’s case, she had been devastated by the death of Jesus.
And, uh, I don’t think we can appreciate how devastating it was for her, not just because of what happened to Him, but because of who she had been to Him and, and I, I alluded to this earlier, He had changed her life. I mean, He had redeemed her. He had, he had to use the language of Victor Hugo in Les Miserables.
Which, what can you say about that? Uh, that, that novel was just filled, if you haven’t read the book, or watch the film, um, or heard the musical. That is a gift that speaks of God’s grace and goodness, and the love of Christ and Hugo understood it. It’s the only way you can write those words if you had to understand it.
But anyway, I was thinking about, I’ve always loved the scene. I was thinking about Mary Magdalene and, and how the Lord had changed her life. And I was, struck by the scene, uh, in Les Miserables, when the, you know, the good bishop forgives, uh, the criminal Jean Valjean for taking advantage of his kindness in robbing him.
And after he was apprehended, not only did the good Bishop, not press charges, but he then gave him the costly silver that would allow him to start a new life. And, uh, the way Hugo describes this moment and I just I’ll just read it to you. He has the Bishop saying to Valjean, “Do not forget, do not forget that you have promised me to use the money to make yourself an honest man”.
Hugo says Valjean, who did not recall having made any promise like that was silent. The Bishop has spoken the words slowly and deliberately, and then he concluded with a solemn emphasis. Jean Valjean, my brother, you no longer belong to what is evil, but to what is good. I have bought your soul to save it from the black thoughts and the spirit of perdition
and I give it to God”. I mean, you want to talk about a breakthrough, you know, uh, the way Hugo captures the power of forgiveness and how the Lord can work, rework our lives and, and what can happen when someone is genuinely given the love of Christ when it’s not deserved. And if you read the, the book, it, th the changes are remarkable, it just is astonishing and the power of grace and what the Lord can do.
And it’s just beautiful. But, um, you know, you know, I, I would say this, that, uh, uh, apart from scripture, I think art can reveal, uh, the grace of God with an eloquence only in my mind surpassed perhaps by nature. Yeah, and that’s the power of good art. It has the ability to open us up, whether it’s music or poetry or, or film, or, um, wonderfully written words, so novel, um, Just there’s power, you know, in, in it.
And, uh, something about it that I think reflects something of our creator God and the ability, the great designer who works His art in so many things around us, even in our broken world. There’s so much beauty that if we will allow ourselves, it can, it can free, it can free us. To a point of more openness towards the Lord, because it is His handiwork.
It is His creation and in, so doing, when we look at the beauty of creation, whether it was a flower, Jesus said, consider the lilies of the field. You know, I tell you, Solomon was not a raid, like all of these in all of his glory, there’s something about the simplistic beauty, of a flower, um, and the colors, I don’t know.
You know, but I, I say that because, um, you know, the Bible, this is where I, this is before I sort of walking down that path on the trail. Right. Literally. Um, I wanted to say that Mary that’s what I think that’s, this is what happened to Mary in a similar way that, what, what happened with Valjean in Hugo’s novel?
Um, you know, she, we are told, um, and that she’s referred to in Luke eight. And I just, I felt like, Hey, let me just read it. Have us look at it is, it says soon afterwards Jesus began a tour of the nearby towns and villages preaching and announcing the good news about the kingdom of God. He had took his 12 disciples with Him along with some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases.
Look at this, among them, were Mary Magdalene from whom he had cast out 7 demons. She was a spiritually tormented person who was in bondage. Um, we, we don’t really know how that happened to her. Uh, was it connected to practices or was she victimized at an early age? Was she exposed? All we know is that Jesus
set her free. And she was free to love and free to become the woman that God had created her to be. And, and she loved the Lord for that. And you know, this woman who had been spiritually, immensely, oppressed have been delivered by His touch. He had taught her, she was His disciple. He had healed her. She was whole, He had helped her to grow past
the wounds of life, the wounds of her life. Again, using the language of Hugo, He had bought her for God. And now in her mind, she had lost Him. You know, and even though the truth is He bought her in a far more profound way as He did for all of us. For a God on the cross, right? His blood, the ultimate purchase price of our salvation.
But I’m just talking about from a very human natural perspective. Mary of Magdala had no knowledge. She didn’t really understand that Jesus was alive. Um, she had watched Him die. She, and she, it had been a bad death. As I mentioned, He had been beaten and brutalized, humiliated, shamed. He had suffered, um, and she, and a few loyal women at the cross had suffered with Him.
And like I mentioned, she was a tough woman. Um, she had seen many things before He set her free, but her heart was truly broken. And now she had, as we mentioned at the beginning, she had lost her ability to even honor Him in His death where His body had been taken or so she thought. And she did what many of us do when we are experiencing great pain and frustration, either with a situation or with ourselves or with our loss.
She wept, um, her tears could not be contained. And Jesus asked her, go back to it one more time. Who are you looking for? Oh, what a question. And she thought He was the gardener, the one who tended the garden. And she says, sir, if you have taken Him away, tell me where you have put Him, and I, I will go and I will get Him.
Mary, Jesus said, and there will be times, loved ones, when in the midst of our loss of sadness and yes, tears, the Lord will call our name and I haven’t heard His voice in such times, heard Him call my name and how much I have been set free from when, in the places of great hurt or pain or loss of even just the ability to move on
with strength. I’ve heard Him call my name and perhaps you can hear Him calling your name now.
You know, I’ve always felt the power of, um, since I was actually very young man of Robert Browning Hamilton’s poem”Along the Road”, in which he writes, speaking of art, you know, Why not? I walked a mile with pleasure. She chattered all the way, leaving me none the wiser with all she had to say, I walked a mile with sorrow.
Narrower says she but oh, the things I learned from her when sorrow walked with me. You know, sorrow can open us up to His voice. I was, I was struck by her greeting and there were many options, but it was, um, you know, Rabboni. Rabboni. Teacher, right? That’s her, her response- teacher. And I that’s, that was how she’s she responded back to Him.
And cause he had taught her how to, how to live and how to love and to be loved. And He was teaching her one more time. And I, again, I just, I just think that the Lord wants to teach us, so He wants to meet us and He wants to teach us, especially in our places of brokenness. That’s how the broken places become the grace spaces.
It’s when it’s, when it’s, when we’re in our most raw place. Our most honest place that Jesus often does His most profound healing and deepening. That is why I’ve learned that I’m walking the mile with sorrow can sometimes be the best thing, you know, walk the mile with pleasure, never a word, said she?
Right? I mean, all the words said she chattered all the way, leaving me none, the wiser with all she had to say, all right, pleasure, success, our world. It doesn’t really deepen us. Actually it only makes us surface level people, but sometimes sorrow, right? It causes us to look deep into places when our emotions are raw and open.
And I know sometimes, people can get into a dark pit and never get out, but it’s this wonderful opportunity because, not that we want it, but because it also creates an openness that would not be there and an ability to surrender. And for that, um, I am grateful. I am, I am grateful and you know, I have. In this case, uh, three things that I want to say three quick bullet points that I’m going to share after our song and at the time of giving that we’re going to, um, you know, move just, I’m going to remind you of right now.
I mean, and I’ll just go ahead and say it that a lot of you are aware that the, and you’ve been amazing. I need to keep saying that because you have. This church has been amazing and, uh, but you can give. As you have of your tithes and your offerings either a traditional way and send it in to our offices or, you know, write a check in, or you can, you can just do it online through the website or through the app.
This is what I do, but like, I always say, you know, give your heart in the end, surrender that first. Sometimes the two are very connected actually, but Lord, as we, as we take this time to share a song and then come back around for a final little teaching. Um, I asked that you would just remind us of how you can meet us in our places of, yes,
loss and grieving and sadness and tears. But it’s also there, we find that you are with us and You know, our name and we are so deeply loved. And so I just ask that You would bless what we’re about to share this song that we offer. And receive in Jesus’ name. Amen.
it hurt to be bro. Then how would, I know what it feels like to be home if I didn’t know what it costs to be rich recheck day. And I wouldn’t know the joy come in home.
Maybe it’s okay. If I’m not home.
If I didn’t know what it looks like to be dirty, then I know what it feels like
my shame had and drove me to hide in the shadow.
It’s okay to surrender our pain in our tears, cause He wants to hold us. You know I was thinking about it. Um, there’s a few things that I like us to think about doing that we learn from what we can, we really can pull out of what we just shared. And one of them is this to surrender our tears and regrets, you know, in, in Mary’s case, she could even say goodbye or so she thought, and perhaps some of us are
weeping or defeated by the what ifs or by the, if onlys of life, like things that we wish could be so different. I just, I really feel that the Lord is reminding us to surrender them, to let them go. They, they do no good. The what ifs and the if onlys it’s okay to let them go. Uh, they’ll come back from time to time, but they don’t need to define us.
And the other thing I see here in addition to surrendering our tears and regrets is to familiarize ourself with His voice. One thing really stands out is Mary. She knew His voice, my sheep know my voice and another, they will not follow. You know, when Jesus said her name, she knew it was Him. Rabboni. Teacher. It’s you. You know, the Christian life is at least in part familiarizing ourselves with His voice.
My sheep know My voice. And when we draw near to God, He’ll draw near to us. And so Lord help us to, to stay close to Your words and close to you so that we can recognize your voice when you speak our name. And then finally, I think it’s worth mentioning that we can trust Him in all things. Like I can do all things in Christ
Jesus who strengthens me. I, I, that one thing we know for sure is that even death is not the end because of Him. Death is only an entryway. So, you know, I want to then trust Him with my life. The One who gives life now, and yet to come is asking me to trust Him with my life. And He’s asking you to trust Him as well.
And if you’ve never made a commitment to trust Him, I would say, trust Him now and let us know. We’ll, we’ll give you any support we can, but is it as simple as welcoming Him into our lives and saying Lord, I’m broken, I’m lost, I’m a sinner and I need you in my life. Make me whole, you know, speak my name and the tears of life.
They don’t need to define us. Um, God can use even the pain and sorrow, um, to be a testimony of His grace, they become, um, uh, part of our story that creates a deep, deep love. So let’s surrender to the Lord, because He’s so good and He’s so God, and he wants us to sow good and he wants us to sow God, so don’t forget, you are loved.
May He keep you in your spirit and your soul and your body and in your mind. In Jesus’s name.