Dawn

She found herself at the garden, early, distraught. The only one who had ever been able to help her was gone. Weeping this morning in the dark before sunrise, she stumbled. Crushing grief lay so heavy in her chest, it was difficult to breathe.

Something looked different when she approached the tomb. The stone! The seal was broken, and the guards were gone! Panic struck her, and she fled.

Peter and John were approaching. She burst out, “He’s gone! Someone’s taken Him away–I don’t know where!”
The men ran to the garden, Peter straight into the tomb. John hung back at the door. This couldn’t be happening. First, the Lord had been killed. That was bad enough. Now, His body was gone. Cautiously, he bent down and stepped through the stone entrance.

There were the graveclothes. And the napkin that had bound Jesus’ head. Folded neatly, but the body was gone. Bewildered, the men looked at each other. This was too much. They left for home, leaving Mary once again alone in the garden, weeping inconsolably. Leaning against the cold stone of the tomb, she forced herself to look into the opening. Her heart jumped into her throat. Her stomach churned.

Angels. Where His feet and head had been. But He wasn’t there.

“Woman, why are you crying?”

“They’ve taken away my Lord, and I don’t know where they’ve laid Him.” her thin, quavering voice cracked. The angels did not answer.

She turned away from the tomb, foggy, confused. There stood a man before her. The gardener.

“Woman, why are you crying? Who are you looking for?”

More questions, no answers. She was getting upset. “Sir, if you have taken Him somewhere, tell me where you have laid Him, and I will take Him away.”

“Mary.”

The Voice. That Voice. The one that had with vehement force cast out seven demons from her soul. She would never forget it. Slowly, heart pounding, she lifted her face to Him.

“Master!” she gasped, knees weak. She reached out to Him, believing, overcome with joy.

“Don’t touch me,” He spoke gently. “I have not ascended to my Father. But go to my brothers; tell them I am ascending to my Father–your Father! And to my God–your God.”

He was gone.

Tingling, she hurried out of the garden. He was alive! She could hardly believe it, though she had just seen it. Her own eyes could not betray her. This was real. The angels in the tomb had asked her the question, but Jesus reserved the answer for Himself.

The Master, her Master, was alive! And though His plan was not finished, He had taken time to comfort her. Her tears were not forgotten, not unseen. Though she had thought she was alone in the garden, He had been waiting for her. This was real love. This kind of love filled the depths of her soul, far beyond where her tormentors had scratched and clawed.

The cavernous wound in her heart that had pulsated with each lash she watched Him suffer, splattering blood and shredded flesh, was now whole, bathed in glorious salve. He had not waited a moment longer than necessary to ease her sorrow, though His pain had far exceeded any emotional distress she felt.

What love! She had heard how He wept with Mary at Lazarus’ tomb. He understood! What compassion! Though Lazarus was alive and whole again moments later, He knew the feeling of grief.

Her spine tingled as she recalled His words to Martha. “I am the resurrection and the Life.”

Yes! He IS!

She laughed to herself, blushing a little, recalling just how much He had spoken of this before.

What else might she have missed had He not come to see her?

Thankful, joyful, she quickened her steps. Much to tell! The disciples needed to know.

John 20:1-18

Don’t miss the bus.

One cold Chicago morning, I stood peering through the oval window of our red door, waiting for the school bus to take me to second grade. The bus came and sat patiently at the end of our long gravel driveway. I thought since I was waiting for my sister to get ready, I might like to say ‘hello’ to the driver. So I waved. No response. I waved more vigorously, but the driver never returned my friendly salutation. Instead, she closed the door and the bus lurched ahead. In a moment it was gone. I couldn’t believe it. I just wanted to say ‘hi.’

I spent a good portion of that day writing “I will not miss the bus.” over and over. One hundred times, I think.

Looking back, I will admit that way at the back of my eight-year-old mind, I remembered having ‘waved the bus on’ other days when we were sick and wouldn’t be going to school. But of course the bus driver would know this time I didn’t mean that kind of waving. Surely she knew my intent.

Opportunity gone, because I was thinking and not acting.

I love to think. I can spend whole days thinking. Dishes remain where they are, and laundry stinketh, this being the fourth day. Surely the utility bill understands I’m thinking about deep and interesting things, even spiritual things. Surely the dust bunnies will wink at this delay. I’m thinking.

Let me not confuse–by ‘thinking,’ I don’t mean ‘praying.’ I don’t mean studying and mediating on the Word. I mean glazed-over wonderment at any random topic.

As I grow up older, I am beginning to realize the direction(s) of God are rarely the Paul-like, as in the bright, blinding light and booming Voice from heaven. More often, it is the series of small steps taken by which He guides those who seek His Will. It is a bus taken here, a right turn made there. A gesture here, a phone call there. And a very ordinary, day-in, day-out communion with the Lover of my soul.

But let’s not get cocky. “Ordinary” communion with the God of the universe never is. And that bus taken, though it wouldn’t seem such a big deal, alters the direction of life. This is how He often leads.

When you’re walking with someone you love, elbow-to-elbow, all it takes is a small nudge to direct you towards one direction over another. Not a screaming, “GO THAT WAY NOW!!” Ouch. I’m right here. You can just whisper, if you want…or just nudge. I’ll follow You.

Now, drastic measures are not needed to secure our attention. We’re not deaf, nor are we blind. We walk in the Light. Don’t we?

Who is blind but My servant, Or deaf as My messenger whom I send? Who is blind as he who is perfect, And blind as the LORD’s servant? (Isaiah 42:19)

“Perfect” here can mean someone who is at peace, having made peace through covenant or agreement. It means complete, restitution made.

Now, I don’t say this to foster doubt about salvation. What I do mean is that there were a whole lotta people in first century Jerusalem who had committed themselves to a covenant of peace, who followed the laws of Moses with vehement zeal,

who missed the bus.

The most important proverbial bus ever.

They were too busy demanding a deafening war cry and pounding hoofbeats to hear the cry of a baby in Bethlehem.

The striking fact here: the war cry never came. They’re still waiting for it. Yes, it will come at the End (another post…on another blog 😉 ), but will it then be too late?

What about your bus? In a covenant of peace, yes, but do you walk near enough to feel the gentle nudge? To hear the whisper, “this way…”

When the bus comes, will you stand there, stupefied in abstract thought? Will you have forgotten your homework? Will you just wave at God-ordained opportunity? Or will you jump on?