There comes a time in every mom‘s life when her kids don’t need her to tend to their physical needs anymore. They don’t need her the same way they did when she held them in her lap.
A time comes when circumstances are such that you don’t have control.
You’re not the planner. You’re not the maker. You’re not the organizer. Or the one doing the serving or the leading.
There comes a time when you just have to rest. You have to take a walk and trust that God, who you cannot see, is working the circumstance- leading, doing.
You have to sabbath. Rest. Cease working. Cease striving. Cease planning. Cease trying to make things better.
Motherhood is teaching me about sabbath. Covid-19 is teaching me about sabbath. Saturday in Holy Week is teaching me about sabbath.
Resting is not what I want to do. Especially when fearful and hard circumstances come.
When the choices are not yours to make anymore. When your son lies behind a stone and the church doors are closed. When you can’t hold the one you love and or tend to his needs.
Your weary body and mind finally collapse, and you rest.
There you realize, God has been trying to lay you down in this green pasture so you can watch him rise like the sun over the stone cold earth.
“The women who had come with him from Galilee followed and saw the tomb and how his body was laid. Then they returned and prepared spices and ointments. On the Sabbath they rested according to the commandment.” Luke 23:55-56
I hit an emotional low this week. Last week I crashed from the adrenaline of responding to this pandemic in my church, community, family and hospital. This week I’ve cried. A lot.
The normal low-level fatigue I live with has become high-level. The irritability that signifies my depression has been showing. Hot tears have been spilling over my eyes and fiery darts of faithless thoughts have stung my swirling mind. I’ve found myself very tempted to hide in a batch of devoured hot brownies. I’ve vacillated between wanting to hide from every day’s grim new statistics of the spread of this virus and the death and destruction it’s brought, to busying myself with organizing my week, writing lists, setting goals and calling on people I care for.
And it hit me today. This is Holy Week. This is a special week of reflection and remembrance. And I’ve been missing it. I’m like the crowds around Jesus when he entered Jerusalem on the back of a donkey. But today, Jesus got my attention.
My sister called me today and reminded me how God saved her. In her words, “You didn’t give up on me sis. When I was mean, you kept calling, visiting, sending cards and notes. You never gave up. You listened to me. You made me see that Jesus is real, not just a religious idea.” Her words shook me awake.
I believe that the Jesus who entered Jerusalem a couple thousand years ago, setting in motion a series of events that would lead to his crucifixion on Friday and his resurrection on Sunday, is alive. And lives in me. I believe he suffered this week those millennia ago so that I could experience the freedom of the glory that only the children of God experience (Romans 8:20).
This week the world is suffering. She groans. I groan. But as the world writhes under the pain of a pandemic this Holy Week, God’s children look to Jesus, our older brother, gone before to save us. We share this week with Jesus. We are in him and he is in us. He is redeeming our suffering. And we are sharing in his glory. It’s a beautiful wonder the world longs to see. And it’s a reality the children of God have been commissioned to invite them into.
This week my pastor called his congregation to pray for and specifically tell another person what Jesus has done for them. To be honest, intentionally setting out to tell my friend what Jesus has done for me via phone call or text or video (because doing it face to face isn’t safe) and inviting her to follow Jesus with me feels a little crazy. It feels a little bit like I might look foolish. I might be misunderstood. I might be mocked. I might be rejected. I might be… cut off. Like Jesus was, for me.
Jesus is the best thing that ever happened to me. And He’s the best thing that could every happen to any of my friends. And if I love them like Jesus loves me, I’ll look all those possibilities in the eye, and like Jesus I’ll set my face determined to go there.
There is no greater love than one would lay down his life for his friends (John 15:13). And there is no greater way to lay down my life for my friends than to give up whatever might happen to me if I determine to intentionally and faithfully love them well and invite them to follow Jesus with me.
I pray that like Jesus set his face toward Jerusalem this week, determined and knowing what he had to do to reconcile me with God, I will set my face toward someone else, determined to lay my life down that they could experience the freedom and glory of Jesus.
I’m not an apologist. I don’t know all the arguments for the evidence that the resurrection of Christ really happened. But I do know what happens to a seed when you push it into the earth.
Throughout the Bible the image of seeds, trees and plants are used to describe the life of a person in the family of God. In the gospels, Jesus uses the example of a grain of wheat being planted in the dirt as the metaphor for what must happen to all who believe in him (John 12:24). And in 1 Corinthians 15, Paul uses planting a seed in the ground as evidence that the resurrection is real.
Dead People Don’t Get Up, But Seeds Do
As a nurse I’ve been around dead people. To see one of them get up and walk, fully alive would be crazy. It just doesn’t happen. Growing up hearing the story of the resurrection of Christ, the thought that Jesus, fully dead, got up and walked out of a sealed tomb has become familiar. The story of this impossible, universe-shaking event has become as common to me as watching spring plants bloom every March. Christ’s resurrection doesn’t shake me like it would if one of my dead patients got up and walked home fully well.
I have to pray and intentionally approach the story of the resurrection of Christ with a desire to be awakened by it. I want to feel the wonder of the scandal of the resurrection of Christ. I want to respond with the joy and awe fitting for such an event.
One way I am helped in responding to the story of the resurrection of Christ, is by reading what Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 15. Here Paul defends the reality of the resurrection of Christ and the future resurrection of all who believe in him. He uses the imagery of a grain of wheat, dying in the ground and being raised to its new plant life, to help the skeptical and doubting people at the church in Corinth.
Most of us don’t notice the everyday occurrence of seeds becoming plants. The last time we were probably in awe of the miraculous transformation of a seed into a plant was in elementary school when we learn about the parts of a seed and how it germinates. But this very elementary lesson God uses as a message all around us teaching us the reality of resurrection life.
Jesus died. He died a brutal death. And it’s absolutely impossible for a dead man like Jesus to regain a beating heart, breathing lungs, a functioning brain and ambulating body. But in God’s economy it’s no more impossible than a seed in the ground breaking apart, “dying” and then sprouting through the soil into it’s glorious new body.
The resurrection of Jesus is the miraculous first germination of the new man. The resurrection of Jesus is the beginning of the new creation. The resurrected Jesus is the new body all our planted lives of faith in Christ will become. The resurrected Jesus is the new man we who believe in him are becoming. Though we die daily, we will live forever as the new planting of the Lord we were always meant to be.
We weren’t meant to be seeds only. Just like Jesus wasn’t meant to die only. We’re meant to be Holy-Spirit-fruit-bearing trees of the Lord.
So, dear one, next time you look outside and see all the things that live because a seed once “died” in the soil, think of Jesus and your future. One day you and I are going to blossom in the new life that is ours in Christ. Because he is alive, we will live too.
Response: Take time to meditate on what Christ has done for you and the reality of the resurrection by reading John 19-21 and 1 Corinthians 15. Then go outside. Look at all the life that has popped up out of the ground from seeds that died in the dirt. Pray that the Holy Spirit would increase your joy and hope in believing in the resurrection of Christ and your future resurrection.