One of the greatest strains in life is the strain of waiting for God.
Today is the Saturday in between.
Some call it Holy Saturday, others Silent Saturday. Yesterday was Good Friday. Tomorrow is Easter. But today I sit in the Saturday in between, that long stretch between death and resurrection, when heaven was silent and all the world could do was wait.
During the dark expanse after Jesus’ death, unanswered questions hung in the air. The Savior was, indeed, silenced. To whom do we turn when the one who is supposed to have all the answers stops speaking?
I’ve spent the better part of this morning considering what it must’ve been like for the disciples and the other Jesus followers when the one they lived for ended up dead. For three years, they slowly became convinced of His messiahship. Throwing caution to the wind, they put all of their faith eggs in the Jesus basket. Family members called them crazy, friends questioned their sanity, others rejected them outright. Still, they chose to follow this man named Jesus.
It wasn’t easy to wrap their minds around the many miracles and wonders they’d seen firsthand. It never is. Demons cast out, illnesses healed, the marginalized welcomed, the dead brought back to life. After three years, their scrapbook of Jesus stories bulged at the seams, the many evidences of His divinity spilling out. Human minds couldn’t contain the explanations of heaven-wrought glory.
But then in their favorite garden long after the sun had set, one of their friends approached with a mob. He went up to their Jesus and gave Him a kiss. Having agreed on such a sign ahead of time, mob members took their cue and arrested Jesus while the gaping disciples looked on.
Some thought this was the beginning of the revolution that would restore all wrongs to right.
Peter grabbed his sword.
Jesus told him to put it away.
Surely this was when He’d call down fire from heaven.
Jesus told them He could, but He would not.
Confused, afraid, they ran.
This is what we do when we don’t understand. We run.
This is the Saturday in between. God didn’t behave the way we thought He would. Like the disciples, we sit in this place of death, facing an outcome we never expected or wanted.
This is not what I signed up for! I imagine the disciples crying. He was supposed to save us! They wail.
True. He wasn’t at all what they expected. He still isn’t.
He is more. But before the more, the wait.
The someday but not yet.
I’ve never been much good at waiting. When I want something, I want it sooner than later. That book I want to write or project I want to complete? I want it to be finished now and flawless the first time. My skills as a leader and coach? I expect them to be fully developed and always effective, without struggle and growth and time. I want my children to be mature and faithful today, and my relationships to be what God designed them to be right now. I want to skip over the uncomfortable process and get to the satisfying results.
But I too easily forget:
The struggle now is part of the glory later.
To be human is to wait. We wait to be strong enough to walk. To be old enough to stay up late. To be legally the age to drive a car. We wait for the first date to become a wedding date, a pregnancy to deliver a baby, an interview to become a job, an introduction to become a friend. We wait for appointments, web pages, test results, oven timers, coffee orders, bones to heal, and loved ones to come home. We wait for apologies and justice and forgiveness and romance. We wait, and we wait. And we don’t wait very well.
So we fill the in-between with all measure of swords and substitutes, hoping the waiting will be eased by whatever weapon we use to distract.
It never works as well as we hope.
We began this series of ten practices with the practice of lament, and I find it fitting that the practice of waiting brings the ten to a close.
“Lament is not our final prayer. It is a prayer in the meantime,” pastor Glenn Packiam says. It is what we utter, in both words and silence, when we sit in the Saturday in between. It’s the sometimes wordless, often tearful prayer of waiting, sitting neck deep in our struggles while waiting and believing in a future redemption.
This is our prayer in the meantime, while we lament what is and wait for what will be. There is hope, even when all other hope is gone. And that hope is in a love that will not fail, a love big enough to write a story that will make all of our lesser stories pale in comparison, a story written for those who wait.
He is alive. He has come and He is coming.
Will He find us waiting with eyes on the ground, caught up in today to the neglect of tomorrow? Or will He find us with eyes on the sky, joy on our faces at the return of our true love?
For the in between. I read a devotiion last week from Jill Briscoe entitled Sing A New Song. Part of it reads,,”Songs you’ve never sung before have a fresh, sweet, wisome sound that alerts those around you to the state for your soul…They were new songs because I’d never been in those situations before, and new situations require new songs. They were not always happy songs, but who says all songs are happy ones? A minor key can be just as pretty as a major one.”
There are times I have to look back many decades and purposefully remember all that God has done for me in order to grab faith for today. I’ll feel guilty…thinking I’m disappointing Jesus…until I remember what the disciples thought when things didn’t turn out as they expected…and I turn back to the Psalms…which speak of times when David and others were confused as well…until they remembered what God had done prior. We’re in good company…and Jesus is far from disappointed. He’ll guide us back every time.