Friday, April 22, 2011

Imagine with me

Because I live in one of the most western time zones on this spinning globe of ours, it stands to reason (and I am nothing if not reasonable!), that wherever you are when you read this, it's already a done deal.  If in fact today was really the day the sky turned black and the world changed on a dime and time stopped for a moment and heaven itself was cast into grief more deep and wide than it had know since the Garden of Eden, if this was that day and I was just now finding out about it, and writing about it from my safe little house across the world, I'd be playing catch-up.  I'd have awakened this morning with a sense of well-being, had been going about my day with ignorance until somehow, maybe over NPR, which I listen to while I sew, or Yahoo news, which pops up when I open my computer, I'd hear the news that Jesus of Nazareth had been killed. 

Imagine it that way with me for a moment.  Imagine it today, and that He is Someone you've been following, not because you know the whole story, but because there's something about His Words, His ministry, His signs and wonders that point to something.  That have drawn you in.  Made you leave your old life, even here--wherever your here is--to follow Him.  You've been walking with a purpose to your steps these last two to three years because while the rest of the world around you struggles with rules and regulations (or not!), you have the key to life, and His name is Jesus.  You feel free, and full of hope, and certain He's going to do something great to reveal Himself to all the World as the Savior you know Him to be.

You're just waiting for that day.  Just waiting for it.

But today comes.  You're driving in your car, listening to the radio (the station of your choice), or watching the morning news (if you live west of the Atlantic Ocean), you hear that inimitable music that foretells a "Special Report."  "Jesus of Nazareth, whom some believe to be the Messiah, was killed this morning on a hillside outside of Jerusalem."  And your car practically swerves off the road.  You drop your coffee cup and it shatters on the tile floor of your kitchen.  NO! You're screaming in your head.  This must be a hoax, you think.  He is "the Messiah, the Son of the Living God."  Surely He wouldn't allow Himself to be killed.  He could save Himself.  Couldn't He?  Couldn't He?  I left everything for Him.  EVERYTHING!!!!

And everything you believe Him to be comes crashing down.  Doesn't it? And you're cast into the deepest pit of grief imaginable.  An unthinkable despair.  A dream is over, and it turns out it really was only a dream.  Mixed into that grief is embarrassment, humiliation--I mean, you did leave your family, your profession, your home to follow this man.  Now he's died.  What are you going to tell everyone?  And what about all those things he said about his kingdom?  What the heck?

This is how they felt, I imagine.  But really, I can't imagine.  See, we come to this day, this Good/Black Friday knowing how it ends.  We come to faith based on the Cross and Resurrection far more than the ministry and person of Jesus.  So we know the death on a cross has a happy ending--the happiest in the history of the world!! And this makes the day Jesus died only the second most important day.  And, of course, it was to those who had dirty feet and dusty robes along side him as well.  But that was only next week.  As they lived it, this day, this Friday when Jesus carried those two rough pieces of wood on his newly-whipped-raw back through the streets and up the hill, until a man was consigned to help, this was the epitome of a "no good, terrible, very bad day."

I've lived a few very bad days in my life. Days when I thought the bottom had dropped out of not just my life but the whole world and I wasn't sure I'd be able to ever get a foothold again.  Grief chases sleep and hunger and desire and everything else from people.  It carves out a hole in the center of a person so large you think it'd be visible from space.  It makes one want to hole up and hide from the world...and from God.  Especially from God.  Especially that day, I imagine.

So I'm not surprised that most of His followers ran.  I think I would have run too.  Sure, I'd like to believe I wouldn't have, that I'd have stood with the Marys and John and not turned my face from the toppling of the whole world in His face and body and life. But I wouldn't bet on my doing it.  I'm a coward when it comes down to it.  And it came down to it that day.  The end of a dream right before their eyes.  Standing there must have been the hardest thing they ever did.  (Especially for Mary, of course, but that's something completely different, and I can't /won't begin to put myself in her place that day.  A mother stays, though.  I know that.  Whatever it means.)

When you're walking through this day, just let it seep through you what it is.  Not what it means, not what the real ending is, because all of that comes later.  See, even what this day means the disciples didn't understand that Friday.  That they needed Sunday for, Sunday and Jesus coming through doors and talking to them, and the Holy Spirit coming in fire to fill them.  No, on this day, this Black Friday, they only knew God died.  Walk around with that today.  Grieve with them a bit.  Imagine.

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