Greater Than Irony
There will forever be two days each year that feel like the anniversary of the day we said Goodbye (for now) to my dad – March 31 and Easter Sunday. Because in 2013, they were the same day.
And months ago, when we started planning an Easter Sunday service, I didn’t think anything of it. When someone asked if I would do a spoken word piece for the service, I agreed – because I get really excited about spoken word – and I didn’t think for a second about the previous year’s Easter Sunday service.
As the theme developed and emerged as Greater Than, I just made a note and jotted down a few initial ideas. I didn’t think for a how a year earlier, on Easter Sunday, we had hoped and prayed to the last that God would prove greater than blood clots and brain damage and comas.
Over the course of the following few weeks I added details to the thematic elements, and random lines that would get stuck in somewhere or omitted, and all I thought about it was about word pairs and off-rhymes.
It wasn’t until the night before, as I finally ironed out the last stanzas and tried to memorize what I hoped would be an accelerating crescendo, that I realized the full irony of what was about to happen.
A year ago we spent something like a week in the closest thing to constant prayer that I have ever experienced. We texted updates every hour to teams of disciples who were praying. Friends gathered for a late-night prayer vigil at the church. Elders from two churches came to the hospital to pray. Some brought oil. Some asked other people to leave the room while they prayed. We worshipped God with music next to the life support machines. We posted scripture on the walls.
But on the afternoon of Easter Sunday, when the tubes were removed and the machines turned off, we didn’t see the miracle we wanted so badly to see.
And now the following Easter Sunday, I was going to stand alone on a dark stage, under a single spotlight and perform a piece I wrote called, “Greater Than.”
I went back and added a few lines toward the end.
Greater than affliction and addiction
Greater than crime rates
Greater than poverty lines and jail time
Greater than depression
Abuse and broken homes
Colds, flus and cancers –
He’s greater than every diagnosis
Believe me, I know this
He’s greater than unanswered questions
Because our expectations are less than
A God who is greater than want
But also greater than wealth
Greater than our shortcomings
But also greater than our self-
Made success stories
He’s greater than our failures and our idols
He’s greater than our weakness and our strength
Because when I finally stepped back and saw the narrative that God was writing with this season of my life, it wasn’t sad to me.
Because sometimes irony is cruel, but sometimes irony is beautiful, and there is no contradiction in Easter Sunday 2013 and Easter Sunday yesterday. In fact, the over-arching theme has been my fortress and my shelter this past year – that God is greater than.
A year ago, He was greater than blood clots and brain damage and comas. We saw answers to our prayers. We saw the physical elements respond to the authority and the power of Jesus’ name, but you can’t call a man out of the unveiled presence of the timeless, living God to come back to a hospital bed. No matter how much he loves his wife and family.
And while we didn’t see the kind of resurrection we wanted to see, God is still greater than death and we know there was a resurrection we didn’t see. We know there is still one coming.
He is the lion and the lamb
The sacrifice and the altar
He is the judge and the pardon
The law, the grace, the alter-
Nate in my place
He is the Alpha and Omega
Beginning and the End
He is the Greater Than
The I AM
Who drew a line
And made a way
Through which all men might be saved
Because Christ alone is greater than
And the grave