Sometimes I write: Holy Saturday
“The LORD will fight for you while you keep still” (Exodus 14:14)
The human condition deals in awkward spaces. Most the time we move along in life without too much thought but then something happens that throws us off track. Death happens, sickness enters our life, someone ends a relationship, someone walks out of our door unexpectedly and breaks our heart. We are left in the awkward space with questions. “Will I see her again?”, “Will I die?”, “Why didn’t he find me enough?”, “Why did he have to die so young?”, Why me?”. Our lives are punctuated by spaces and moments where we are lost, lonely, hurt and confused and where the big questions hang unanswered. It is often not the event itself that torments us; it is not the diagnosis, accident, argument or last goodbye. Rather, it is the awkward space where we grieve and question, it is that awkward space that would not make it on a timeline of our lives. It is the awkward space that hurts, but it is also the awkward space that gives us room to hope.
This week I, and many others worldwide, have remembered the suffering and death of Jesus on Friday and we wait for the joy of Easter Sunday when we can once again celebrate. This year I have noticed the hastag #SundayIsComing all over Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. It made me stop to think; why are we so keen to brush away the day in-between? The awkward space of Easter week? So much of our human experience is about trying to reconcile loss and hope, a balance so often held delicately in the awkward spaces. There is no greater reminder of that fine balance than the Easter story and yet we are so hasty in wanting to skip straight to the happy ending.
William Penn once said, “In the rush and noise of life, as you have intervals, step home within yourselves and be still. Wait upon God, and feel His good presence; this will carry you evenly through your day’s business”. One of the greatest personal revelations I have had recently was during a silent moment sat on my own on one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. This beach had played host to my complete breakdown and crumbling two years ago. The situation which caused that breakdown was one that was never really resolved, I never got my big answers. It dawned on me this year, while sat on that beach once again on a personal pilgrimage of sorts, that I didn’t need a resolution. That while I had been so busy searching for some kind of closure God had gone right ahead and had taken the ugly situation and made it shine. He had worked in my awkward space without me even realising it.
I am terrible at resting and stopping in the midst of busyness and yet God asks us all to be still and know that He is God. Easter Saturday must have felt like the longest day in the world for those closest to Jesus. He had promised so much and yet there it was, in his own words, “finished”. The questions crowding the minds of his friends and family and those who followed him must have been overwhelmingly loud in the midst of such silence. An awkward space. I wonder if those who loved Jesus were still? Or I wonder if they were like I was two years ago wailing and clawing desperately in the dark? I wonder if God spoke into their hearts in the silence? I wonder if they still knew in the depth of their awkward space and the terrible silence that God was still God? I wonder if they found hope in the black inky despair?
Being still in the awkward spaces is challenging. We create all kinds of distractions and noise in our lives so we can avoid such moments. We want to try and fix what is broken. What I have realised anew this year is that when we let God speak life into the broken spaces we also open up the possibilty of that space becoming like a desert that has received water for the first time in years – suddenly life blooms out of the cracks. On the news this year we saw Death Valley covered in yellow flowers where rain had fallen on the parched land. When we are in our awkward spaces do we try and cover the cracks with concrete or do we allow God to speak into those gaps with his grace so that our lives might blossom?
This Holy Saturday I am going to take a pause and try and embrace this space. Such days can feel like a struggle, but what if this is actually a healthy space to allow God to fix the fragmented pieces of our lives and offer us healing? So while I rejoice that #SundayIsComing I also rejoice in the fact that for at least one day God gave us time to pause, to grieve, to pray and to be still with Him. As life is often more about the spaces in-between than it is the big events.
Header Image: James Chan via Pixabay