I’ve been listening to Lectionary Songs Vol 2 during this writing. Suggest you try it while you read my thoughts.
LISTEN HERE! (https://immanuelspokane.bandcamp.com/album/lectionary-songs-vol-2)
The irony of my situation does not escape me today. I am here in Las Vegas – Sin City – during Holy Week, Easter Week, the Week of Christ’s Passion.
My husband is working and I am alone in my hotel room with God and with my conflicted thoughts and emotions. But I am also remembering with thanksgiving that this Easter Week made and makes all the difference for my story and for that of everyone else on this planet – for all eternity.
When Jesus walked on earth, this was His final week of human life. This was the week when He would be betrayed, tortured, rejected by His own, suffer a cruel and humiliating execution and die. But that is not the end of His story. He would rise again and finally conquer sin and death for all humanity. He would be bruised and bitten by the snake, but He would crush the snake’s head from the cross, and on Easter Sunday rise to give witness of His victory.
As I drove toward Las Vegas on desolate highways, there was a beauty to behold in the mountains, valleys, and plains of this land. And then, suddenly there was the city. Spiking up out of the ground, sprawling and speeding through a maze of highways and buildings. Such a contrast. All the man-made elements paled in comparison to the natural beauty I had seen, beauty God formed in this land, even this desert land.
At the hotel, I was shocked to see people seemingly lost in this world of self-indulgence with drinks, cigarettes, and money in hand – spending it all on the clinging, clanging machines designed for their distraction.
I’ve never been a Vegas fans, and this is the only time I’ve stayed here as an adult. I lived here as a child for a short time, but not in this area of the downtown/strip. But here I am. The hot sun is a brilliant change from the Pacific NorthWET gloom we have at home. But despite the sunlight, there remains a darkness here and a dank smell that dampens any lasting delight. How beautiful was the drive, and then I arrive here and it’s all made to distract people from God and from themselves. It’s Holy Week and I am entrenched in the heart of Sin City. It’s a strange dichotomy, difficult to understand, but it also makes the remembrance of what Jesus did so much more poignant.
Sin no longer has its death grip on me – or on any Christ follower. Jesus has delivered my soul from hell. And frankly, even with all the glitz, glitter and fantastical sites, this place feels like a ledge on the threshold of hell and I’m looking down seeing how awful it will be to truly live apart from God.
This morning I meditated on Psalm 16. How glad I am the Lord promises to be my refuge, to do good, to be my inheritance; that I shall not be shaken, that He will not leave my soul in hell, and that in His presence there is fullness of joy; at His right hand are pleasures forever more. I walked around a bit last night and it felt like a preparation for hell – everyone doing what was right in their own eyes. Music blared, people gyrated, lost in the beat. Many had alcohol in hand. Some were lewd—practically naked—one guy wore a privacy guard over his most private part, but the rest of him was naked as a jay bird with only an American flag draped on his back. What did he mean by that? He saw when I averted my eyes and then he made some lewd comment about myself and how proud he was to be flaunting his freedom to be naked in broad daylight in the middle of a street filled with hundreds of people. And he was not the only one. I had to avert my eyes many times. It was shocking, heartbreaking and overwhelming. I quickly turned out of that “marketplace” and found solace in the barren side streets off Main. I’m not pointing the finger and saying they are terrible and I am not. I am a terrible sinner and I am more thankful than ever that I struggle with the awareness of my own sin instead of blindly embracing my sinful condition.
This area in this city is just a thing, an anomaly in my life, a passing-through-place for me. But for many this place, these activities, and attitudes reflect their everyday lives. How sad this is. How sad to spend life apart from knowing the FAITHFUL and TRUE GIVER of LIFE, the LOVER of our souls. The ONE who made it possible for us to escape THE darkness and live in the light of His love, joy and eternity.
I feel somewhat overwhelmed like I should do something about it. Perhaps I should put on a sandwich board and stand out there on Main Street and preach the Gospel. Were that I was so brave and bold. What does God want me to do here? In the midst of my thankfulness, in the midst of my own self/sin awareness, that is the question I am pondering today.