Saturday, April 20, 2019

Wait...now what?

stone tomb, FaithLife blog
Recently I led a discussion of a devotional that talked about waiting. It was called “Waiting in the Tomb,” by A.J. Swoboda, who, I just learned as I googled him, wrote an entire book about the 3 days of Good Friday, Saturday, and Easter Sunday.

I have heard remarks about how, in the “great 3 days” of Good Friday, Saturday, and Easter Sunday, we tend to go as quickly as possible from the sad events on Good Friday to remembering the joyous events on Easter Sunday. In this devotional, Swoboda asks us to stop and think a while about what happened on the “awkward Saturday” after Good Friday and before Easter Sunday.  

In this devotional, Swoboda wrote about Joseph of Arimathea, who, with another man, Nicodemus, took Jesus’ body off the cross and put it in a tomb. He wrote about the fact that they did this out of their great love for Jesus, even though their hopes for what Jesus would do were dashed. Then he wrote of the Saturday between Good Friday and Easter Sunday, how Jesus followers at that time did not know Jesus would rise again from the dead. Imagine their sadness and disappointment that day. Things did not turn out the way they had thought they would. They must have been wondering, “Now what?”

A friend told me his mother had been a big planner, mapping out what each family member would do and how. Then when my friend was only 18, just starting college, his mother died. He said he wondered, “Now what?” When our plans go awry, when we think we’ve got it all figured out and then...we don’t, when we are merrily on our way down the path we think God wants us to be on and then we’re stopped, we respond, “Wait! Now what?”

Really, we are in that “Wait-now-what” state all the time. We don’t know what is coming next. We have our hopes, our decisions and plans. But we never know what might happen to affect those future plans. My mother often used to add “DV” to her statements of future plans, such as “We will be out there to visit you May 5-10, DV.” DV stands for the Latin words, Deo volente, meaning God willing, or God being willing. The Muslims have an Arabic phrase, Inshallah, meaning the same thing, God willing. Even though we do not always say it, that “God willing” is always at the end of our plans, isn’t it?

To come back to the “awkward Saturday” concept, the disciples, family and friends of Jesus were living that “God willing” thing. They thought Jesus would be their Savior, Messiah, and King. And now he was dead. They were preparing his burial spices, sad, confused and uncertain as to what to do.

Swoboda encourages us to stay in that “Saturday time” before rushing to Easter Sunday. He describes it in a way that reminds me of the hymn and verses that speak of the whole creation rejoicing at Jesus’ resurrection -- “You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.” (Isaiah 55:12).

Faith isn’t just Good Friday and Easter Sunday, faith is awkward Saturday, too. So much is sitting in that tomb with the soon-to-be resurrected Lord. It’s so dark. So damp. So scary. The silence is deafening.

But there is hope in there. Even the ants that normally crawled the contours of the rocks rejoiced. The air praised God. The rock, which would later be rolled away, yearned to jump for joy. The full tomb knew that resurrection was under it all. Because in that kind of dark, there’s a kind of beautiful light. Not a normal light. Not the light of the sun, or the light of a lamp, or the light of a flashlight. A different light that few can see. The light in the full tomb goes much deeper than physical light.

And in that kind of darkness, there’s a glory. In the tomb, the darkness is thick. But that’s where God is. (“Waiting in the Tomb,” by A.J. Swoboda, p. 36, Journey to the Cross. copyright 2019. Christianity Today.)

Happy awkward Saturday.




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