So, we wait.
We don’t rush to the finish. We don’t turn to the back of the book for the answers or the last chapter to see how it comes out. We don’t take the short cut through the peppermint forest if we roll doubles. We don’t jump to the front of the line. We wait.
What anguish there is in waiting.
- The physical discomfort of position, perhaps injury or illness or disease.
- The mental turmoil of wondering what will it take to be well?
- The emotionally wrenching, what if things don’t get better?
- The spiritual crisis, why did God allow this to happen?
Holy Saturday sits us here, perhaps personally, or perhaps at the bedside or at a distance but in intercession for another. We wait, and while we wait, we pray.
Jesus knew pain.
- The physical pain of crucifixion.
- The mental pain of derision and public humiliation.
- The emotional pain of grief and loss, sorrow and betrayal.
- Even the spiritual pain of forsakenness, rejection and loneliness.
Jesus waited a day, and while he waited, he healed. The suffering of physical pain was gone. The mental pain, he resolved “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” The spiritual pain was answered, “He sits at the right hand of God the Father.” But the emotional pain…does he still shed tears for his people? He must.
How does emotional pain find its healing?
Where do anguish, sorrow, and mourning go?
Time heals all wounds, we like to say, but that gives too much power and too much credit to time.
Waiting alone doesn’t heal.
While we wait, we pray.
Prayer takes the black and white of Good Friday and colors it in the pastels and bright hues of Easter.
The Father gives hope to those who pray.
Until that which we write, we think, we pray, comes to life, we are noisy gongs and clanging cymbals. This is the pre-Easter world, the pre-Easter us.
Oh, the list. Thank God, the baby Jesus was born into a smelly stable. At least He knew what He was getting himself into, or at least He recognized the stench when he got here.
But the Easter life is meant to have a different fragrance. Gone is the stench of death. Up rises the sweet smell of life. It doesn’t febreeze the smell to muffle it or fool our noses by covering it, it actually replaces it by rebirthing it. It is a coming alive “in me.” It’s an inhabitation, not just a living with, or walking beside. It’s not even a co-habitation. Life has sprung from that which was clearly dying, what others have seen and testified to as completely dead. The mortician has actually signed off on it.
That, of course, is impossible. So, are we foolish to believe it?
Yet, each day I have words, thoughts, prayers in me that are meant to be acted upon. Ideas designed to take root. Connections clearly intended to be made. And when I am true to these, they take on a life of their own. This is not my doing. Others tell me this. Am I foolish to believe this? believe them? That something could be incarnated in me? A life that is not mine and yet it is?
Impossible. Yet, I hear (and so I write): Make a place for me, just as I have gone to make a place for you. What if the place Jesus said he was “going to make for me” was actually in me?
Is there a place “in me” that would welcome my Lord? Have I prepared the guest room? Made the beds, changed the sheets, tidied up the newspapers? Have I scrubbed the floors, painted the shutters, patched the wall paper, vacuumed the… Heck, I’d better get busy. Maybe a decorator.
No, redecoration would be fruitless and a waste of time, energy and resources. Christ doesn’t come with the white glove test to see if I pass muster. He’s not that kind of commander. He comes to set up a base of operations. He seeks outposts where his commands are followed without hesitation or pause. Not because we fear His power or rank but because we defer to it. Our compliance is a place of usefulness, of actualization.
This is a real place in Easter people. Where the Kingdom has come, the knock answered, the door opened, and new life has been welcomed and told to make itself at home. Oh, what a hum and whir I hear from that place.
What is written there is life-giving.
What is thought there is laid in place.
What is prayed there is and was and ever will be.
But what is imagined there…Oh, the plans he has for us; to prosper us and give us a future. Where better to do all of this than within us? Am I foolish to believe that the place He left to prepare was that very place?
What if we forget? What if we don’t get around to it? What if we’re afraid?…to tell them…until it’s too late.
I live among the self-sufficient. Everybody’s “got this.” “I’m good,” they say. They don’t need my help, don’t entertain my suggestion, don’t want my advice. In fact, accepting help taints their ‘I can do this myself’ capacity, the capability we pride ourselves with here in America, land of the free, home of the brave. Independence is where we stake our claim.
So, if I want them to know that there may be another approach or a new way, I am told I should ‘lead by example.’ That is acceptable, inoffensive and safe. If they notice, good. If not, well I’ve shown them. It’s not my job to turn them around.
But what if what I do is “not do”? That is, what if I choose to withhold my words or resist action? This really leaves the door open to all sorts of supposition. People may surmise, “Oh, she’s such a wimp.” Or, “She lets them get away with everything.” Or even accuse, “Why doesn’t she come to their defense?”
Here, I credit the Positive Coaching Alliance who suggests that we be sure to ‘tell them why you did what you did.’ This is especially true when our actions are silent. Speaking dispels misunderstanding. We don’t do it to tout what we did or draw attention to ourselves, but rather to be clear. And, to open the door for conversation and discussion. Why? What were you thinking? How did you decide this? What will you do now? Would you do that again? All valid questions. All essential so they can consider it for themselves. What would they have done if they were in my shoes?
And if, as has happened all too often, my actions were not what I wish to have conveyed, now I have a forum to talk about that, too. “I shouldn’t have said that and next time I will do this…”
So many of us, though, shy away from this conversation. We want to let our actions speak so we don’t have. We like to quote the old standard of St. Francis “Preach the gospel at all times, and when absolutely necessary, use words.” Certainly yes. We don’t want to invade someone with overbearing expressions. Too many have used fear and force to do this. We would do well to be gentler, but we are challenged to go and tell.
Is it cowardly just to witness with my ways and let them draw their own conclusions? Am I hiding in plain sight, choosing to keep quiet about my faith lest someone might catch me doing something unChristian and call me out? Are we people who hide behind our good deeds and figure that’s good enough for God? Or are we meant to risk letting the Jesus show so that when we explain the why behind what we did or the why not behind what we didn’t, we testify to the truth.
I just love people who get creative about it. In fact, I am grateful because they give me ammunition and impetus to challenge myself to speak faith in a way that those who might not yet know the Lord will be tempted to consider Him. Now here’s someone who speaks it in style. 370Z style.
How about this guy? He drives around with the message on his plate. I posted it to my Facebook page. Why not? Easter is coming. A harmless question … for the win. But I had better “be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks (me) to give the reason for the hope that (I) have.” (1 Peter 3:15) I have found that the right word is rarely as important as the timely word.