When your life is a Saturday

There’s this sort of breathlessness between the Cross and the Empty Tomb. A weighted, tight-lunged, pursed-lip hold. A pause. A full stop.

Can you feel it?

The day the disciples trembled, gathered…were silent.

They couldn’t have had much to say to each other. Jesus…dead…Jesus…dead…Jesus…dead. What is the world like when the Son of Man is dead? When the past three years of your life fall to shambles with the loud, earth-cracking last exhale of the King of the Jews?

When every hope, every dream – the very words of eternal life – lie in a still, cold body in a still, cold grave. 

It’s what they had to be thinking. Jesus spoke to them of the death, the silence, the resurrection (demolishing and rebuilding the temple). He gave them the sign of Jonah. But I get the feeling they never really got it.

I get the feeling they spent Saturday hushed, breathless, wounded, tired…totally and completely lost. I get the feeling that no words, no comforts – nothing – answered the high-pitched questions ringing through their ears, throwing them off balance: Who was this Jesus, after all?

It’s Saturday.

I’m tired.

And it’s funny how the tiniest of things will set you off when you are tired.

For me, it was literally a tiny thing – a small bug, no more than a centimeter long. But I hate bugs. Like really, really hate bugs.

Spiders? I can deal with spiders. They are predictable, quiet, calm – and easily killed. They are part of the expected routine of living in a house. Fighting cobwebs in corners, flushing a particularly hairy specimen down the toilet – it’s part of the drill.

But bugs?

Bugs don’t belong anywhere near human dwelling places.

The worst offenders for me: moths, crickets, and that most hideous of lifeforms, the silverfish.

I mean, have you ever seen a silverfish? They are this mutant creature, somewhere between centipede and scorpion and earwig, long and wiggly and fast. They eat books, glue, and lurk on ceilings above your college shower. They creep in and out of radiators, and are all together pesky and obnoxious.

Did I mention I hate bugs?

And, Long Island living, in the way of bugs, has not been kind to me. The altitude, cold and dry climate of Colorado produces few specimens – we have to fight spiders, bees, a few grasshoppers, an assortment of over-sized moths, and maybe an occasional ant-hill. But here, in my Long Island cottage, summer means that my house is a menagerie of six-legged creatures. And last summer, I sent my husband chasing bugs all over the house – usually some deformed cricket, or an extra-speedy spider.

And it really got under my skin.

We have yet to get a bed-frame, so we are sleeping, as I like to say, Japanese-style – mattress on the floor. And all last summer, every time a bug went un-killed overnight, I would be convinced that said bug was going to get on my bed.

Wimp? Most definitely, and I don’t apologize for it.

Add to the equation my first summer in high humidity and heat sans air conditioning. Equals hot, sticky, creepy crawly.

Not. much. fun.

So I’ve been sort of worried about the impending heat and humidity and…bugginess.

Among a lot of other things.

Work has been anything but a joy, between drama and bad management. My hours have been cut, leaving our already-tenuous finances squeezed. We’ve applied to different positions, without any response. A promotion that was guaranteed to me over the next month has been moved into the “someday” realm, and some other hopes have fallen through. We’ve been looking for new apartments, without much luck.

It’s been a rough month.

And summer’s coming. A season I didn’t really enjoy so much last year.

So, I was packing Thom’s lunch this week. And something…squirmed…its way under the tupperware I placed in the open bag.

My typical reaction? Make a little squeal, and promptly drop bag on floor. Then, gain some bravery, and…carefully, carefully…lift tupperware. The criminal? A teeny, weeny, itty, bitty, less-than-a-centimeter long silverfish.

Such a little thing. But it threw me over the edge.

When is life going to get better (aka, easier)? When is God going to open doors? Why are we stuck here? I get it, God, you want us to learn contentment. But, really? We’ve been married almost ten months! I think that’s long enough for anyone to learn contentment!! I mean, c’mon! Couldn’t you at least show us some job? Some raise? Some promotion? Some new apartment?  Couldn’t you direct us somewhere, plant a seed, blow a breeze? Something…anything…anything to get us out of this breathless living space where there are no open doors and windows and there’s just now and paycheck-to-paycheck and BUGS!

Because sometimes, life is a Saturday between the Cross and the Empty Tomb. Sometimes, by all appearances, God isn’t acting how God should. Sometimes, we sit as the disciples and don’t understand anything that is going on. Or, as they probably felt – we don’t understand the lack of anything happening.

I mean, shouldn’t Jesus have come blasting back from death instantly? He was powerful enough, and sovereign enough. Couldn’t he have breathed his last, and the earth quaked, and the curtain split, and then suddenly, mightily, he resurrected and bound from the Cross?

He could have. 

But instead, he waited a whole, quiet, breathless, miserable Saturday.

And guess what? (You’re not going to like this, I promise. Because it drives me crazy). On Saturday, there was nothing for the disciples to do but…wait…and…rest.

Wait and rest. Wait and rest. Wait and rest.

In the crashing-in of their world, the mass confusion of a still-dead Savior and once-deads walking around alive, the disciples could do nothing but wait and rest.

To be still.

When our lives are Saturdays? When paychecks don’t quite cover expenses, and we apply to new jobs, and the cars still break down, and the employers don’t respond? When bugs creep in and tear through the fray of frazzled nerves? When new living places aren’t found? When adoptions don’t go through? When cancer isn’t cured? When hopes are dashed and tears flow free? When life is breathless, painful, aimless, confusing? When we have absolutely no idea the next step to take?

We wait. And we rest.

Because, guess what?

(This, you’re really going to like, I promise. This…the hope of all hopes and the joy of all joys and the life of all life.)

Tomorrow?

Tomorrow is Resurrection Day!

The disciples didn’t know this. They weren’t sure of it. In fact, quite a few probably thought it was the end.

But the fact remains: it wasn’t. The sun set, and the sun rose. And the tomb was empty.

So, sit down with me awhile? Breathe? Rest? Wait?

Though the sorrow may last for the night, joy comes in the morning!

Isaiah 40 ~

Comfort, comfort my people,
    says your God.
Speak tenderly to Jerusalem,
    and proclaim to her
that her hard service has been completed,
    that her sin has been paid for,
that she has received from the Lord’s hand
    double for all her sins.

A voice of one calling:
“In the wilderness prepare
    the way for the Lord[a];
make straight in the desert
    a highway for our God.[b]
Every valley shall be raised up,
    every mountain and hill made low;
the rough ground shall become level,
    the rugged places a plain.
And the glory of the Lord will be revealed,
    and all people will see it together.
For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”

A voice says, “Cry out.”
    And I said, “What shall I cry?”

“All people are like grass,
    and all their faithfulness is like the flowers of the field.
The grass withers and the flowers fall,
    because the breath of the Lord blows on them.
    Surely the people are grass.
The grass withers and the flowers fall,
    but the word of our God endures forever.”

You who bring good news to Zion,
    go up on a high mountain.
You who bring good news to Jerusalem,[c]
    lift up your voice with a shout,
lift it up, do not be afraid;
    say to the towns of Judah,
    “Here is your God!”
10 See, the Sovereign Lord comes with power,
    and he rules with a mighty arm.
See, his reward is with him,
    and his recompense accompanies him.
11 He tends his flock like a shepherd:
    He gathers the lambs in his arms
and carries them close to his heart;
    he gently leads those that have young.

12 Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand,
    or with the breadth of his hand marked off the heavens?
Who has held the dust of the earth in a basket,
    or weighed the mountains on the scales
    and the hills in a balance?
13 Who can fathom the Spirit[d] of the Lord,
    or instruct the Lord as his counselor?
14 Whom did the Lord consult to enlighten him,
    and who taught him the right way?
Who was it that taught him knowledge,
    or showed him the path of understanding?

15 Surely the nations are like a drop in a bucket;
    they are regarded as dust on the scales;
    he weighs the islands as though they were fine dust.
16 Lebanon is not sufficient for altar fires,
    nor its animals enough for burnt offerings.
17 Before him all the nations are as nothing;
    they are regarded by him as worthless
    and less than nothing.

18 With whom, then, will you compare God?
    To what image will you liken him?
19 As for an idol, a metalworker casts it,
    and a goldsmith overlays it with gold
    and fashions silver chains for it.
20 A person too poor to present such an offering
    selects wood that will not rot;
they look for a skilled worker
    to set up an idol that will not topple.

21 Do you not know?
    Have you not heard?
Has it not been told you from the beginning?
    Have you not understood since the earth was founded?
22 He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth,
    and its people are like grasshoppers.
He stretches out the heavens like a canopy,
    and spreads them out like a tent to live in.
23 He brings princes to naught
    and reduces the rulers of this world to nothing.
24 No sooner are they planted,
    no sooner are they sown,
    no sooner do they take root in the ground,
than he blows on them and they wither,
    and a whirlwind sweeps them away like chaff.

25 “To whom will you compare me?
    Or who is my equal?” says the Holy One.
26 Lift up your eyes and look to the heavens:
    Who created all these?
He who brings out the starry host one by one
    and calls forth each of them by name.
Because of his great power and mighty strength,
    not one of them is missing.

27 Why do you complain, Jacob?
    Why do you say, Israel,
“My way is hidden from the Lord;
    my cause is disregarded by my God”?
28 Do you not know?
    Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
    the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
    and his understanding no one can fathom.
29 He gives strength to the weary
    and increases the power of the weak.
30 Even youths grow tired and weary,
    and young men stumble and fall;
31 but those who wait on the Lord
    will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
    they will run and not grow weary,
    they will walk and not be faint.

 

 

When you preach the Gospel, the end

Obviously, I could keep going on (and on and on and on) about the impact of preaching the Gospel to yourself every day. It’s that important, that central – when we explore the vast implications of the God of the Universe sacrificing his Son on the cross, that Son who rose again, it changes everything. The Gospel is powerful and practical enough to reach into every aspect of our lives. Under the umbrella of the Gospel, every facet of our lives becomes part of the story of God’s glory and love.

So, I am hoping, if my feeble words can communicate anything, you understand that the story of Jesus is absolutely central, and it should be the focus of everything we do.

And I’ll leave you one last thought: the Gospel is our ultimate motivation for everything we do. 

ImageI clearly remember fallingin love with my husband. In fact, it was hard not to – because he pursued me ruthlessly. Before I even knew him, he had set his eyes on me. And he was determined to win me – from scheming ways to meet me to listening as I shared my heart to reading poetry to me and surprising me with tea under the stars – he never stopped trying. And I couldn’t help but fall for him in return. Who is this that would be all about winning someone like me? 

Such is the relationship between Christ and his bride.

When our hearts fully grasp that we have been given righteousness, that we have been ruthlessly pursue (He has danced over us with singing!!), that our life is one of abundance and security and great joy, we can’t help but fall in love.

ImageWho would give everything to win people like us?

And people who fall in love with Jesus obey his commands (John 15). Not out of penance to pay for their sins, or works to win their salvation, or legalism to inflate their pride, but simply out of deep, overflowing love.

When our hearts overflow with gratitude for and joy in the Gospel of Christ, we can’t help but respond to him in loving ways.

So, join me in preaching the Gospel to ourselves…every day? To chew on it, to let it sink into the fibers of our daily living?

To fall in love withJesus?

Because this is the Gospel: a passionate story between a lover and his bride.

Image

[If, in the daily, ongoing sermon, you are learning new things about what the Gospel means in your every day living, please share! I would love to hear how it is uprooting you.]