I am reluctant to say this to God.
‘I will follow you all the days of my life.’
Because I know I won’t.
I will trip and fall.
I will stumble or swerve or slam on the breaks.
I will not follow, so let me not say so.
But what if I did say so?
Would that not be arrogant and proud?
As if I knew I was a special one,
Selected from among the many,
Singled out for my…my what?
You’re no more special than the other, my dear.
Come, simply at my request,
Come willingly, but without reservation.
Say you will, knowing fully that you won’t.
That is the price —
which I have paid.
And in that instant, the ground under my feet is firm.
Of course, I say.
I see it now, I say.
How could I have doubted?
The very thought!
Oh my God!
I have ushered in my own demise.
The ground begins to crumble and my balance gives way.
My arms grapple with the air,
But there it no holding, no grasping, no righting.
Only tumbling, falling, twisting, turning,
confusion, chaos, peril, and fear,
I knew it was too good to be true.
Yet, it is true.
I saw it, I felt it, I was there.
Briefly, ever so briefly.
Were it not for my doubt,
Oh doubt, will I ever be rid of you?
I brush myself off
and attend to my scrapes and bruises –
No gashes, no stitches, no broken bones.
I seem to have survived the fall.
That is why I came.
Falling is part of believing,
It draws us closer.
What can you possibly want with someone like me?
You are free to go.
Where should I go?
You can come with me.
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?