A Loyalty of Love

loyalty of love

Comrades.  Brothers in arms.  Friends forever.

If it were possible to make the ties that bind any stronger, Tom would have done it for his best friend.

They had been together so long, been through so much … he knew Tom better than Tom knew himself, and sometimes that was scary.

The two of them had shared everything – traveling, eating, drinking, sleeping.  Their laughter had been strong and lasting  Their tears had been honest and grievous.

Of course, his best friend was the motivator, the catalyst, the nerve center of their motley crew.  Everyone in the group felt the same way Tom did — ready to live and die for their extraordinary friend.

The commitment between them was tighter than any contract could have bound them, deeper than any emotion Tom had ever felt before.  Together, he thought, there was nothing they couldn’t do.

A Dark and Stormy Night

But then there was a nightmare night … a morning with no sunrise —- a hideous realization that he was gone.  He was dead.  Murdered.  He had thrown his life away.

He could have saved himself, but he did not.  He had a chance at escape, but he didn’t act on it.  He could have kept things as they had been, but instead he let himself be offered up like a sacrificial lamb.

It was worse to Tom than the loss of a limb — because a limb he might eventually learn to function without, and even forget that he had ever had.  It was worse, it seemed, than losing one of the senses that guide us through our world, because somehow the other senses compensate for it.

It was like losing a vital organ, because Tom knew from that moment on that he would never forget what he once had and he would never be able to function without it — or even care to try.

It’s like losing your soul, he thought.

Surrender

And he gave up.  The rest of his friends told him to be careful, that all their lives were in danger because of what had happened.  They stuck together to nurse their fears and tried to hide.

But Tom didn’t care.  Let them hide if they could … He was no coward.  He had known when their lives were in danger before, but it had meant more to him than safety to be with his friend.  When he planned to walk right into a place that was openly hostile to him, the others said, “You can’t do it!  You’ll never get out of there alive.”

But Tom heard himself saying, “Look, if he’s going there, we may as well go and die with him.”  That’s how much Tom loved him.

And now where was that friend? … Six feet under, leaving Tom with this half a life that he couldn’t bear to live … a life he didn’t know how to end.

Pressure Drop

“Tom! He’s not dead!” his friends began to tell him.

“He’s alive!” they insisted.

“We’ve seen him!” some of them said.

“It was some kind of error — a mistake —“

“A miracle!”

And Tom shook his head.  Had they seen him alive?  Well, Tom had seen the Master dead — no mistaking that.  He was torn between anger at them — for not letting his memory lie in peace — and concern, that they had all lost their senses in their grief.

“I haven’t seen him alive,” he told them, “and until I do, I really can’t believe you.  You’ve just been thinking about him too much, and we’ve all been under a great strain …”

Morning Glory

But then, finally, there was that miracle morning … a sunset without darkness … a joyous realization that Jesus was not gone!  He was resurrected!  He was alive!

With that simple look at those nail-scarred hands … with that simple touch of the wound in the Master’s side … Thomas finally knew — beyond doubt — it was true.  His friend had returned.

Yes, Easter came a few days late for the man we have come to call Doubting Thomas, but today we still tell his story.  But why?  What is the powerful draw for us to the tale of Thomas in John 20?

It’s that he was so endearingly human.

Twenty centuries ago a disciple of Jesus struggled with the same human emotions and griefs and darkness that you and I still struggle with today.  We think about a man who has lost his best friend, and we understand how he felt.

Loved and Lost

Thomas was unwilling to believe that Jesus was alive again because he didn’t want to risk getting hurt again.  Think of grieving parents who have lost a precious little child.  Do they dare to give their love to another little one?

Think about children whose parents have abused or abandoned them.  Is there any reason why they should open their trusting hearts to another family — or to the same parents again?

Think of that situation in your own life where someone you loved let you down hard.  Why should you ever put yourself in that situation again?  Why set yourself up for a fall?

That was Thomas.  He was a cautious man.  He didn’t want to get hurt again.  He realized that he had just loved Jesus Christ too much … and it wasn’t going to happen to him again.

Thomas did not mean to become immortally labeled as a doubter, but he was afraid of the pain, the loneliness, the abandonment of losing his friend again.  We can all understand that.

Love on the Rocks

Maybe you feel today the same way Thomas did.  You’re not ready to open up and give your heart away again, either.  Maybe you’ve been wounded by someone you love — maybe even a brother or sister in the Lord — and you’ve decided that you can’t go through that again.

Maybe you understand the loneliness of being deserted.  Maybe you understand having your goals and your future mapped out — only to watch it all fall apart.  Maybe you’ve loved deeply and lost.

Let me remind you that people may hurt you, but Jesus did not.  Jesus died for us — to forgive us our sins — and rose again.

He didn’t just come back to appear to Thomas, but to give Himself to you and me, to each of us.

He came to Thomas at the lowest point in his life, in the midst of grief, despair, and doubt.  And He will come to you at your point of despairl  He will come to you at your loneliest.  He’ll come to you in your emptinessl Your pain.

He came to Thomas when Thomas felt that he could never love again, and He’ll come to you when you think that you can’t love again, or that no one will ever love you again.  He’ll come with love and hope and joy.

Ready to Take the Chance Again

Jesus came to Thomas with the knowledge that He was alive and real and in command.  And that’s the message He brings to you today.

That’s the message of Easter!

The risen Christ is alive again to walk with you, to live inside of you and to guide your footsteps!

Are you afraid to reach out again?  Of course it’s difficult to think of opening yourself up again to anyone.  But I invite you today to set your affections on the risen Christ.

Give Him your love.  Let Him heal the past and the pain and give you a new future.  He will ever desert, abandon or hurt you, for He promised, “Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20).

Not Seeing is Believing

When Thomas finally saw Jesus, and knew that He was indeed alive … that He had not abandoned them … he “answered and said to Him, ‘My Lord and my God!’” (John 20:28).

In the next verse, Jesus says to him, “Thomas, because you have seen me, you have believed.  Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

That’s you and me.  We have to believe, even when we don’t see.  Thomas was chosen as a disciple because Christ knew that he would be cautious — and serve as an example to you and me.

But you and I were chosen as His disciples in this day and age because He knew that you and I had the strength and dedication to believe, even when we had not seen.

Join me today in committing your faith, life and future to the risen Savior!

*********************

If you want to know Jesus as your Savior …

If you have never accepted Jesus Christ as your Savior, will you make that commitment right now?  It is as easy as following Thomas’ example and declaring, “My Lord and my God.”

Here is a sinmple prayer that you can pray if you’re not sure how to approach Jesus.  You could say it right now …

“Dear Jesus, I believe that you are the Son of God who died and

rose again to save us from our sins.  I ask that you forgive me for

the sins of my past right now and make me part of the family of

God.  Thank you for your eternal love for me.  In Christ’s name,

Amen.”

*********************

This article was published by my husband, Ronn, in the days of our television ministry.

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