the day before resurrection
Every Easter weekend, people repeat that saying, “It’s Friday, but Sunday’s coming,” as if to say that your dreams or desires or hopes are dead, but just hold still in the nothingness of Friday night and all day Saturday, and then at dawn on Sunday everything wakes up and you’re suddenly alive again.
I don’t know about you — but I have experienced very few “resurrection” moments like that in my life. Most things in my life improve by subtle, slow, small steps, which are often punctuated by significant struggles. Most joys in life make me crack a smile, but they don’t send me over the moon.
How is it possible, I ask God, that you raised Jesus from the dead, and yet some days I can’t even get out of bed? What happened to all that power? I don’t see instant resurrection in my life — does that mean I’m doing this wrong?
As I’ve walked with God, I’ve come to believe that maybe resurrection isn’t sudden. Maybe all of life is like Saturday.
Maybe it’s the space between the death of our fallen world, and everlasting life. And maybe in that space, resurrection is happening.
Maybe Jesus’ body didn’t come alive in a split second; maybe it took all of Saturday for life to creep back in to his lifeless form. Slowly, in darkness and deafening silence, a cell wakes up. It starts metabolizing oxygen and weaving strands of DNA again. And then another cell wakes up. And then another one.
Maybe life is more like that — not an Easter resurrection every morning where everything is instantly put to rights and all of our troubles are solved, but a slow, silent, subtle Saturday.
Rarely there are great awakenings — the cancer is cured, the book deal is inked, the dream job is landed. But mostly, resurrection happens on a smaller scale. And if we’re not looking closely we’ll miss it, and we’ll descend into despair, certain that we’ll spend the rest of our lives trapped in this tomb.
Made like him, like him we rise, we sing on Easter Sunday.
This week I had some great chats with family members and a few closes friends. I spent a long, long time in tearful prayer. And slowly, the tears I've cried over the past week subsided. The storm in me died down. I tapped into deep, restful joy.
I came to a new place of faith, where I believed again that God is good, that nothing in all creation -- grief, pain, disappointment, loss -- can separate me from the love of God. I believed again that God has a future and a hope for me, and that if God is withholding something now, it's because it's not time yet and/or there's something better coming.
My friend said she takes the lies of the devil and punches them in the face. I don't know that I did quite that level of spiritual martial arts last week, but I did my own kind of inner battle, struggling to get back to the center of God's heart. And once I was there, I breathed a sigh of relief. All the pain of the past week fell away.
I packed up everything in that prayer closet I wrote about a few days ago, where I'd been wrestling with God for a week, and I went for a long walk in the sunshine.
I’m realizing that in the minuscule, moment-to-moment, step-by-step, breath-by-breath spaces in my life, I am living. I am coming to life.
In spite of the tragedies in our personal lives and the world, in spite of the things that go wrong, in spite of pain and hardship and sadness, to borrow the words of Dallas Willard, the reality is that our universe is brimming with goodness.
The world, with all its imperfections, is hurtling toward redemption. We are on our way to indestructible bodies, reconciliation, life without end. Our destination is a beautiful place where tears and sadness and pain and hunger and heartache cease to exist.
Made like him, like him we rise.
Our lives are not sudden Sunday morning resurrections — not yet, anyway. But they are subtle Saturday afternoon awakenings. Cell by cell, hour by hour, day by day, new life is emerging. We just have to be humble and patient enough to see it.
Christ is risen.
We are rising.