"We had hoped..." - two on the road to Emmaus, Luke 24:21 (NLT)
"I AM the Resurrection and the Life..." - Jesus, John 11:25
"But that’s not the way of it with the tales that really mattered, or the ones that stay in the mind. Folk seem to have been just landed in them, usually – their paths were laid that way, as you put it. But I expect they had lots of chances, like us, of turning back, only they didn’t. And if they had, we shouldn’t know, because they’d have been forgotten. We hear about those as just went on – and not all to a good end, mind you; at least not to what folk inside a story and not outside it call a good end. You know, coming home, and finding things all right, though not quite the same – like old Mr. Bilbo. But those aren’t always the best tales to hear, though they may be the best tales to get landed in! I wonder what sort of a tale we’ve fallen into?”
“I wonder,” said Frodo. “But I don’t know. And that’s the way of a real tale. Take any one that you’re fond of. You may know, or guess, what kind of a tale it is, happy-ending or sad-ending, but the people in it don’t know. And you don’t want them to.” - J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings
Abraham asked to offer up Isaac.
Hannah after talking to Eli.
The three Hebrews in the fiery furnace.
Ruth waiting to know if Boaz could redeem her.
Esther after fasting.
Though we have the privilege of knowing their outcomes, none of these "heroes" knew that they were such, nor what "sort of tale they had fallen into."
And there come seasons to our lives where we are sitting on the ash-heap amongst the shards of shattered dreams, broken in spirit and desperately desiring to turn back a few pages, or to skip ahead...anything to get out of this chapter that we find ourselves in.
Yet, that's what makes the best stories, isn't it? As one of my pastors shared this morning (see the Sunday 3/19/2017 webcast archive with Pastor Trevor O'Keefe): "the journey is as important as the destination, because it is the journey that makes the man."
I remember as a young girl hearing a family friend always say, during times of trial, "It's Friday, but Sunday is coming!"
But what about when you are living in the Saturday in between? Suspended somewhere between faith and surrender?
"I and the lad will go and worship, and then we will return..." (Gen. 22:5)
"Hannah went her way, and did eat, and her face was sad no more..." (1 Samuel 1:18)
"Our God is able to deliver us, and He will deliver us, but if not..." (Daniel 3:17-18)
"Sit still my daughter, until you know how the matter will turn out..." (Ruth 3:18)
"...and after three days I will go to the king...and if I perish, I perish..." (Esther 4:16)
While the "Saturday in between" sure makes for a suspenseful story from the outside - when we are on the inside of the painful pages, it can be tearful reading.
It's heartbreaking, isn't it...the "we had hoped" of a dead vision that seems a rather bewildering end to a faithfully-trodden trail of obedience?
If, like me, you find yourself brokenhearted in the "not-yet," then take courage - the One who mingled drops of blood with His tears in Gethsemane's garden understands - and He was the only One who actually knew the end of His story!
Nevertheless, He wept.
And as our faithful High Priest, Jesus has empathy for our sorrows, but He loves us too much to leave us there.
Joy will come in the morning. (Psalm 30:5)
He will turn the page.
Sunday is coming!