Reading the Bible and placing yourself in the midst of the narrative is a powerful way to not only take in the story via one dimension but to hear, taste, smell, touch and recognize that these stories are about real people. I find this brings a fresh understanding and identification with all they experienced.
In this season, it feels like we are living in a state of in between. I find myself referring to BEFORE the worldwide pandemic and dreaming about what might be AFTER the threat dies down and life becomes a bit more familiar. We can’t function as we did before 2020, and we are not sure how we will function in the future. We are IN BETWEEN.
This is not a new scenario in history, and it is certainly not a new scenario for the Lenten season. There were several IN BETWEENS that took place in the last few months of Jesus’ life.
Jesus walked through a very emotional “in between” – death and resurrection. I’m not talking about HIS death and resurrection here; I’m referring to Lazarus’ death and resurrection. He listened to the Father when he received the news of Lazarus’ sickness. He didn’t run into the future, He waited. He was patient in the in between time. He displayed amazing self-control to stay where he was. He didn’t allow His love for Lazarus, Mary and Martha to take Him too quickly to Lazarus’ side. He lingered because He listened to the Father and the Father had purpose in the waiting. Step into that aspect of Jesus’ story: What was it like for him to wait, to not respond to one of his best friend’s plea for help? Amazingly, Jesus trusted that death would not win – resurrection would come!
Another in between time was the last week of Jesus’ earthy life. He fully participated in what we now refer to as Palm Sunday: He rode that donkey right into Jerusalem and then he lived in another in between time, the time between the accolades and the accusations. Step into that week with Jesus as he experienced praise and honor one day and was spat upon and beaten a few days later – superstar to scapegoat in a mere four days. He lived that week spending time with his friends, eating meals, sharing his heart with those closest to him. He lingered in the in between time at the table and in the garden as He listened to the Father. Jesus trusted that death would not win – resurrection would come!
Jesus wasn’t the only one to experience these IN BETWEEN times. Those who followed him, who loved him, who lived life with him also were part of these unsettling events, where it seemed that life was held in the balance.
As I considered stepping into the story of Jesus’ disciples at this critical in between time in their lives, I wondered what they really experienced that Saturday after he was crucified. What was it like to wake up to the reality that he was gone, not knowing the end of the story but living right smack in the middle of the uncertainty and despair?
Here is an example of stepping into the story on that silent Saturday from the perspective of one of Jesus’ disciples . . .
Saturday morning I woke numb, dazed, feeling like I was in the midst of a dark cloud – no emotion, no strength, no power. I woke early from a fitful sleep, sat on my mat processing what had happened the last 3 years, the last few weeks, the last 24 hours.
What now? I asked myself. What do I do now that He is gone? Where do I go now that my dreams are crushed, my hopes turned upside down?
Did this really happen? The mob of fans last week, the washing of my feet, the garden prayers, the kiss, the sword, the beatings, the robe, the crown of thorns?
He was crucified . . . HE was crucified . . . He WAS crucified . . . He was CRUCIFIED!
How did that happen? What kind of world do I live in that does this kind of thing?
It’s the Sabbath, I need to pray . . . how can I pray at a time like this? HOW can I pray?
. . . “My Father, who art in heaven . . . hallowed be your name . . . (This is what He said, this is how He said to pray . . . )
“Your kingdom come . . . (Your kingdom come, Father how will that ever happen after today?) . . . your will be done . . . (Could his death have been your will? That makes no sense at all – why would you sacrifice your Son – even Abraham was stopped before Isaac was actually sacrificed . . . but Jesus is gone – how is that your will?)
“Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. (Really? This prayer he taught us made a lot more sense before all of THIS!)
“Give us this day our daily bread. (He said HE was the bread of life . . . now He is gone – where will we be fed, spiritually . . . how will any of us go back to making a living?)
“And lead us not into temptation . . . (I already feel like I am being led into temptation, temptation to abandon the cause, temptation to flee, to go back to what used to be normal before all the miracles, the parables, before these last three amazing years.)
“Deliver us from evil . . . (Evil has taken over . . . how on earth will we be delivered from this evil that has taken His life?)
For thine is the kingdom (I don’t see it) the power (what power?) the glory forever (how does this glorify YOU?) . . . Amen.
That prayer makes no sense today . . .will it tomorrow? Will it the next day or the next? Father, have mercy . . . I cry out again – Help my unbelief . . . help my unbelief.”
On that Saturday, his disciples knew the reality of death, but they had not experienced the reality of his resurrection. They lingered together; they waited.
The Lenten Season challenges us to linger, to live life in the midst of unresolved pain, in the midst of uncertain futures, to live life between death and resurrection.
How will I live in this global pandemic, this worldwide in between and in the many personal ‘in betweens’ that come my way? I’m challenged to linger, to live life and to listen to the Father. I’m challenged to hold onto the truth and hope that death does not win, resurrection is coming!
How are you living in the in between? What ‘personal in between’ came to mind as you read this blog? Quiet yourself and listen: What is the invitation of the Father to you right now?