I was not surprised to find you there.
I wished the soldiers didn’t take their duty to guard the tomb so seriously. I knew I couldn’t move the stone even with your help—and honestly? I don’t think I wanted to see his bruised, broken body. But I would like to have touched the stone. I would like to have rested my forehead on it, knowing that Jesus was on the other side. I would like to have wept out loud without fearing the soldiers would hear and shoo us away.
I’m still in shock.
Last week was a microcosm of ministry life (which, even as I write this sentence, I hear myself in my head. Of course it has been . . . what did Jesus come to do? Seek and save the lost? What have we come to do? Seek and save the lost by introducing them to Him.)
Was it only over a week ago?
Sunday, the grand entrance. Remember how excited you were to be with Him as you embarked on your new adventure of cross-cultural service? The crowds cheering. Even if the crowds consisted of little old ladies in a Sunday School room or squirmy kids on a Wednesday evening.
Monday, a calling out of injustice. This, this, is what we pictured it would be like, right? Jesus has finally had it with the corruption. Fashioning his own whip—and I can relate to wanting to grab whatever was around me and address the problems!—He cleanses The Temple. Some injustices are so obvious, where are the people who will do something, anything?!
And then cursing the fig tree that wasn’t bearing fruit and it actually dying. How cool was that?
Tuesday, a final lesson. We know that Jesus is more interested in changing a person’s heart so that the change in behavior will go deeper than mere actions. It must have been a long day of teaching and being with people. Lesson after lesson, all pointing to God’s longing for his children. We understand those rich, long ministry days.
Wednesday, it seems nothing is happening. It seems that way, but in hindsight, God teaches us two key ministry lessons. History calls this “Spy Wednesday” because in the midst of what we thought was normal ministry, Judas made plans to betray Jesus. Ministry comes with betrayal. But it also comes with silence. Much is recorded about the other days of the week. Much. So, it is a conscious choice that God has nothing recorded for Wednesday. Silence from God can also be a part of ministry.
Thursday, when the plot takes an unexpected twist. Honestly, did you see it on Sunday? Or even Monday? Could you have imagined after that entrance to Jerusalem and activity at the Temple on Monday that on Thursday we would have one leave us, one deny Jesus, three fall asleep when they should be supporting Jesus, and then the arrest? What happened? Ministry also comes with plot twists in which the only response may be, “What happened?”
Friday, convicted and crucified. I know I keep repeating myself, but that is what shock does. I am still confused as to what Jesus was convicted of. How is it that though it seemed no one in authority wanted His blood on their hands, he was whipped, mocked, spat upon, and nailed to a cross? How is he now dead? What does it mean in your ministry where it feels you are convicted and crucified because you know Him?
So on Friday there we were, you and I, outside of his tomb.
Waiting together. Waiting as a community. Waiting because our sin and the brokenness of this world came with a high price. Waiting because, surely, this isn’t the end of the story.
Waiting in agony.
And it wasn’t the end!
If only we knew the ending of all our ministry stories before they begin.
Again on Sunday and Monday of this week, the shock. But this time flooded with joy.
One would have thought our waiting was over. Perhaps I should say, “One would hope our waiting was over.” But the waiting continues. Huddled together behind closed doors, unsure when the coast was clear. Returning to a previous job, sure that the betrayal disqualified him from ministry. Wanting proof that what he heard was, indeed, fact. Wondering what was next for the ministry.
The ascension will come and guess what comes after it? More waiting. Waiting together. Waiting for The Comforter. Who will come . . . but not without waiting
How has waiting been woven into your ministry journey?
I am glad our wait for the retreat is nearly over! I cannot wait to join with you in receiving from God what He has for us individually and corporately. You’ve registered, right? Know anyone who can use a scholarship? They are burning holes in our pockets . . . not really! But we can’t wait to share them with any who want to join.
This is The Grove and we want to hear from you! You can link up your blog post, or share your practices, ponderings, wisdom, questions, ideas, and creative expressions with us in the comments below.
Here’s our Instagram collection from this week using #VelvetAshesWait. You can add yours!