Wow. It’s been a whole year (over) since I last posted and what a year it’s been.
Last time I posted (https://francesgabriel75.wordpress.com/2015/03/), I was at a crossroads and not really seeing the way forward. Now I am (thank God) looking forward to a new opportunity, having accepted an offer of a position at a new school, continuing with what I have been doing but also taking up a new and excitingly different direction.
Which got me thinking (the fact that we started the Easter holidays over here yesterday also helps!): what is God doing during these gaps, these hiatuses in our lives? What are we to make of this in the light of today, Holy Saturday, the biggest hiatus in Earth’s history, theseemingly blank (and black) gap in between Good Friday and Easter Sunday. Where is God on this day?
Imagine it: you have seen your best friend and mentor die, in the most horrific of circumstances possible. He told you it was going to happen, but you never really believed it, not deep down. And now, all you feel is numbness, overlaying the anger and betrayal – what about this Kingdom of Heaven that was promised? What about this promise of new life?
Jesus himself knew this anguish of abandonment, echoing the Psalmist’s words (Psalm 22) on the Cross:
1 My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from saving me,
so far from my cries of anguish?
2 My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer,
by night, but I find no rest.
Now Jesus’ sense of abandonment was a far deeper, far more all-encompassing one than we could ever know. He who was God, separated from God for that one instant, feeling the whole weight of God’s anger when all He had known was the communion of God’s love.
The first thing we can glean from this is that Jesus, above everyone else, understood what this gap, this sense of separation, of bewilderment felt like. As the writer of Hebrews says in chapter 4:15, ‘For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are–yet he did not sin.’ So we can have confidence both that we can express our thoughts honestly in prayer, as the Psalmist did, and that Jesus will understand rather than condemn us for so doing.
The second thing I take from Holy Saturday, is to ask what God is doing in the midst of this apparent bleakness and loss.
The Medievalists had a belief in something called the Harrowing of Hell (explained in this blog – http://www.patheos.com/blogs/joeljmiller/2013/03/the-victory-of-christ-and-the-harrowing-of-hell/) which states that in the time between Good Friday and Easter, Jesus was making something of a triumphant lap of Hell – coming in victory rather than defeat, showing his dominion over death. I like to think this is true. It certainly makes sense of the ‘time in between’, that time just before the Easter Dawn, when the world seemed most bleak.
In my own life, I can look back over the past two years or so when it hasn’t always felt like God has been working through it all. Even though I’ve clung on to this belief, that there was purpose behind me being where I was, behind doors I was knocking on being slammed fairly firmly in my face. And looking back now, I can see those incremental things God has been doing: the patience He’s been developing in me (still work in progress!), the new heart He’s awoken in me, the new vision He’s been preparing for me. All beneath the surface when things seemed apparently static, unchanging. A bit like the time-lapse video below, when all seems dead on the surface, God is working beneath, in the quiet, holy spaces in our lives, to bring about new growth and new life.
Romans 8 v 28 states:‘And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.’ That’s in ALL things, not just in the things we enjoy or in the times we can feel His presence, but also in the times in between, the gaps – maybe particularly in those times, I would dare to suggest?
I pray that whether God is growing something fantastic in your life, or whether you have yet to see these new roots / routes taking shape, that you will experience God’s blessing and love this Easter and beyond.
Picture 1 – https://www.pinterest.com/trippcb/nature-crossroads/
Picture 2 – http://collegevilleinstitute.org/bearings/holy-saturday-spirituality/
Picture 3 – http://quotesgram.com/holy-friday-quotes/
Picture 4 – https://walterbright.org/tag/my-god-my-god-why-hast-thou-forsaken-me/
Picture 5 – http://www.patheos.com/blogs/anxiousbench/2013/03/harrowing-hell/
Video credit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iFCdAgeMGOA
Picture 6- http://bestcoverpix.com/holy-saturday-facebook-cover-photo/
All Bible verses taken from the New International Version on https://www.biblegateway.com/ unless otherwise specified.