by Katie Rutledge
I have always been a planner. I like to make lists, and I’m pretty attached to my five-year plan. In college, I was pretty sure I had my life all figured out by the time I started my junior year. Fall of my senior year, though, my life took an unexpected turn. A relationship I expected to last a lifetime crashed and burned. Looking back, I should have seen it coming, but I was utterly unprepared for it then. I remember walking around campus thinking I didn’t even know who I was anymore. I couldn’t imagine what the next day would bring or who I would be then, let alone look a year into the future, past graduation.
I think that’s probably how the disciples felt on Saturday. Friday was the worst day of their lives–ground zero. Life came crashing down at their feet. Their hero died an agonizing death in front of their eyes. That wasn’t supposed to happen. Jesus was supposed to ride into Jerusalem victorious, overthrow the brutal Roman Empire, and begin a new reign. The disciples expected triumph, but what happened on Friday must have felt like defeat. What about all the promises Jesus had made? Hadn’t he promised prosperity, better days to come, a place at the table, and all that?
More than that, though, they had just lost their trusted mentor and friend. The man who was shepherding them through their days and teaching them how to live was lying lifeless in an earthen tomb. They must have had so many questions for him that were left unanswered, things they thought they’d have more time to sort out with him. I wonder if they felt abandoned and adrift. There was no dull ache for the friend they’d lost; it must have throbbed with an intensity they didn’t know possible.
I imagine the disciples woke up Saturday feeling disoriented, lost, and alone. I bet some of them thought they’d had a crazy dream only to realize they were actually living out a nightmare. Where was the victory? What would become of them with their hero and mentor dead? Who would lead them and where would they even go? How could they go on without their dear friend? As morning dawned on Saturday, reality set in anew. Jesus’ promises must have felt empty. I wonder if they questioned everything he’d ever taught them.
At the same time, I wonder if they had a glimmer of hope. They knew it wasn’t meant to end this way. Jesus had promised more, and while they didn’t know what the future looked like exactly, the disciples trusted Him to deliver. He had done so many amazing things and taught them so much after all. Maybe they heard that quiet voice whisper across their hearts, “There’s more. The story doesn’t end here.”
The sun rose and set on Saturday with little change, but Sunday was a very good day. When Jesus revealed himself to the disciples, I wonder if he chuckled as He watched the recognition dawn on their faces. This resurrection was what He had promised. Everything became clear.
Many of us spend much of our lives feeling stuck in Saturday. Life is hard. Relationships, work, and money all seem to suck the life right out of us. The tragedy of Friday crashes in to our everyday lives all too often. We question, sometimes, where the redemption comes in. We live in the in-between, the already-but-not-yet. We are assured the story doesn’t end this way. “There is hope,” a voice whispers deep inside.
And then Sunday comes. God shows up. Sometimes He shows up in huge, amazing, raising-the-dead ways. Oftentimes, though, Sunday looks more like that first tulip shoot reminding you winter won’t last forever or an out-of-the-blue text from a friend.
When my life took that unexpected turn in college, I sank into depression. Most of my days felt like Saturday. I prayed for a raise-the-dead sort of Sunday miracle to restore that relationship, and I didn’t get it. Yet in that hard Saturday season, my faith grew stronger and my sense of self re-emerged. Beautiful things came out of that hard place that felt so much like death.
I experienced many smaller Sunday moments along the way. God spoke to me through friends, through Scripture, through rainbows in the sky, and through many gentle reminders of His care. Some days His whispers to me were, and still are, almost audible. He let me know I wasn’t alone.
I think it’s okay to ask God for those big Sunday miracles, but we also have to be watching for and willing to see the small ones.
As we near the end of Lent, what big Sunday miracles are you asking for? What small Sunday whispers is God showing you?