Glossing over Saturday

Okay, so this must be a holiday because this is my third blog in as many days. Clearly you can expect to wait a good month or 2 to hear from me again, since I try to work hard to keep my inconsistent blogger status.
Today is Saturday. It isn’t good Friday. It isn’t Easter Sunday. It is Saturday. If we were there with Jesus’ disciples over 2000 years ago on this day, we would be hiding. We would be mourning- still reeling from the apparent tragedy the day before.  Ours eyes would burn from hours of tears and little sleep. Our legs would be feeble, feeling as if someone had pulled a chair out from under us. Our stomachs would churn, along with our minds. The sound of Jesus’ voice calling out from the cross would still be fresh, echoing through our minds. Echoing, almost haunting us, almost taunting us if we let it. His promises, His preaching, His healing, His friendship all made so much sense until now. We would be processing, grieving, questioning everything we had believed less than two days before. We would be right there, in the upper room. Right there on Saturday. Right there in between tragedy and triumph.
Hearing the story now we all know what is coming tomorrow. As we hear the story now, as we go through this weekend now, it is so easy to gloss over Saturday. We lay out the Easter clothes fresh for the next day. We bake the ham. We skip right from His death to His resurrection. We sometimes forget Saturday ever happened. I know I do. Saturday was agony for those that loved Jesus. We have the perspective to see Sunday on our calendars. We see the sunrise service on the horizon. We have heard the songs of victory sung before. But if we lived it then, we wouldn’t have known what to do next. We would feel a tangible emptiness. Our hearts would be waiting, not knowing what we were waiting for, not knowing what was coming. We wouldn’t have known Sunday was coming.
I think we all live out time on “Saturdays”, maybe more time than we would like. There is so much pain there. So many questions. So few comforting answers. Will Sunday ever come?
Even if we know Sunday is coming, the waiting can be so hard. Waiting. I feel like I have learned a lot about that lately. Waiting can kind of drive you crazy. Waiting can zap your joy if you let it. It can paralyze you. I have often wondered why Jesus waited three days to rise from the dead, and announce His victory.  There are a number of theological reasons for it, I know. But something struck me the other day as I was reading to the kids from their Jesus Story Bible (uuuuhhh this sucker is awesome by the way. I always get as much from the stories as they do!) Maybe one reason Jesus waited three days to rise again, (emphasis on the word “maybe”- I am no theologian), was that He wanted to give his disciples time to wait. He wanted them to spend some time processing. He wanted them to take those first steps of action amidst their grief. On Easter morning Mary Magdalene and the other woman who came to attend to Jesus’ body. They weren’t laying in bed bemoaning the fate of Jesus. They hadn’t thrown in the towel claiming Jesus had betrayed them. They set out to carry on with that they could do.
Once they saw that Jesus’ body was gone, Mary Magdalene lingered in the garden. She waited. And Jesus came to her. At first she thought He was the gardener. But once he said her name, “Mary”, she knew it was him. That has always been one of my favorite parts of scripture. She was the first person Jesus appeared to after rising from the dead. And He called her by name. I can imagine the way He said her name. It was probably so full of compassion, so full of love, so full of affection and maybe a hint of anticipation for her to realize who He was. I can imagine the twinkle in His eye as she looked up at him. Her eyes must have flooded with tears. She threw her arms around Him. She didn’t smack him and say “you really gave us a scare!” She didn’t pout and say “How dare you put me through that!? I trusted you! What were you thinking?! Do you know how awful this has been?!” She didn’t shun him and say “I could never believe in a God who would allow bad things to happen. I can’t understand why you would allow such pain. I don’t trust you anymore.” No, she hugged him. And she wouldn’t let go. Jesus had to say to her “you can hold onto me later Mary” (John 20:17).
Oh, I wish this would always be my reaction after waiting! I wish I would always react with unwavering faith and over-flowing love for my Savior! I have to think the way Mary acted on Sunday was because of how she lived on Saturday. If she had not had to wait, the reunion would not been as sweet. She would not have learned to trust. She must have chosen to live on Saturday in a way that prepared her for Sunday, even though she didn’t know if or when Sunday would come.
For me, that is something to think about. How do I wait? How do I live on the Saturdays, or the strings of Saturdays, in my life?
“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.
 He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak.
 Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;
but those who hope in 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.”
Isaiah 40:28-31
The New King James Version translates “hope” as “wait”. The New Living Translation translates it as “trust”. Sundays don’t require much in the way of waiting or trust. When our hope is right in front of our eyes, when we can wrap our arms around it- not much faith is needed. But on Fridays and the Saturdays that come after it is so easy for our faith to waver. It is so easy to allow our waiting to turn into resentment, to listen to the lies, to wallow in our weariness rather than seeking renewed strength from God. For me Saturdays are even tougher than Fridays. The processing is the hardest. When I am alone with my thoughts, alone with my pain, when all the rest of the world has gone their own ways in the wake of my personal tragedies, that is when life is the hardest. That is when the hardest choices need to be made-on Saturday. Saturday determines how I will react to Sunday. Because Saturday may be long but Sunday is coming.

“For His anger is but for a moment,
His favor is for life;
Weeping may endure for a night,
But joy comes in the morning”.
Psalm 30:5

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