This is the last verse in the book of Matthew. Jesus has risen from the tomb and has gone to speak to his disciples, telling them that that “all power is given unto me in heaven and in earth” and then sends them out to make disciples of all nations. I imagine the complete awe the disciples must have felt in seeing Jesus, all powerful, risen from the dead, commanding them to go forth and continue in his work. They must have felt that with his death, their work was done. Feeling displaced, engulfed in grief, their lives shattered, Jesus returns and, at least in these verses, doesn’t really comfort them but sends them out to perform a seemingly impossible task.
How overwhelming it must have been to be sent to baptize all nations and teach people to obey the commandments of Jesus. Jesus had just been killed by people they knew! How were they to continue to teach his word? What might happen to them? How could they get this task accomplished? Where would they start? How could they do this without Jesus showing them the way and telling them what to do? Yet, even as they must have questioned their ability, Jesus said, “remember - I am with you.”
In our lives we are called to sometimes do the seemingly impossible. What is calling you? It could be something deeply personal such as changing a habit or relationship you know is keeping you from being in alignment with your truth. It might be making positive change in your lifestyle to allow you to become more healthy or disciplined.
Or perhaps your call is to a wider mission. Maybe it is time to complete your education or to finally show up to serve a ministry. You might feel the call to discern your role as a missionary, or to go through the process of ordination.
Whatever is calling you, remember that the first step is to say “yes” to that call. Then remember that Jesus and the Holy Spirit are with you to the end. The disciples could not have known that all nations of the Earth would indeed come to be baptized and that 2000 years later their mission is still being accomplished. They had to overcome grief, fear, doubt, and betrayal but they continued to follow their call. We don’t know what doors will open for us, who might show up on our path to help us, or the extent of how our decision might change our life or the lives of others. But we have the promise that Jesus and the Holy Spirit will be with us to the end.
In the dictionary, one derivation of the word lent is from the Middle English lente which means springtime. Jesus died, was resurrected and brought a renewal of life. Spring returns after the dead of winter, bringing new growth to trees, lambs are born, and warm breezes bring the sweet scents of flowers and fresh grasses.
During this time of Lent, when you recognize the sacrifices you make, the things or events that bring endings or death into your life, the fears that you let go of or the limitations you overcome to follow the call of the Holy Spirit, may all these things lead you to a joyful rebirth of Spirit within you to guide you and bless you.
“And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”