I skipped out to the mail box as a young girl with blond pig-tails swinging wildly, excited to retrieve the mail for mom. But then I heard it. The sound of a plane over head. Suddenly my joy turned to fear. I reached the mail box, covered my ears, crouched down, and tried to hide. The fear overwhelmed me. I don’t recall the exact sensation, but I recall how terrified I was of planes. I don’t know if it was the noise or the fear of a crash. I know mom would ask me as I shuttered in fear, what was it I was afraid of? I couldn’t tell her. I just was. I had no words to speak about how I felt.
As I move through Holy Week, I have no words to speak of Christ’s death on the cross and the resurrection. Instead, I wonder whether, if I had lived during that time, whether I would have been struck with fear and an absence of words. I wonder whether I would have been one who refused to speak up for Christ or one who refused to listen to Christ.
I am certain I would not have spoken up. And I imagine, like I did as a kid, I would have been wrought with fear, a fear I perhaps could not articulate.
That is difficult to admit, but I admit it with certainty. Today, I don’t find it easy to talk about the resurrection because I find it intellectually incomprehensible.
Understanding it and believing it required a transformation from head to heart–an inner knowing. Faith. Belief in things unseen.
So, as I move silently through Holy Week, I reflect on my own failings, but I look to the cross. I read the words of another who reminds me that I am precious and dear to God, despite my failings. He covers me with His grace. I find peace at the foot of the cross. On my knees. In silence, but not afraid.
“All that makes Him precious and dear to the Father has been transferred to me. His excellency and glory are seen as if they were mine; and I receive the love, and the fellowship, and the glory, as if I had earned them all.”
–Horatius Bonar, The Everlasting Righteousness
In the season of Lent, we journey toward the cross. Today, we know the significance of that journey and where it leads: to Christ’s death on the cross and the resurrection. In this journey we understand that God gave His son for us so that we might live fully in relationship with God–be restored us in our relationship with Him. I feel overwhelmed by that thought during this season.
But the disciples didn’t know this. As Christ moved toward the cross, his disciples only saw hints of what was to come. They did not fully understand what was about to happen would rock their world. Shake it fully.
They knew Jesus, saw the miracles, heard his message. Certainly they believed, if not by faith, then by sight. But, for them, the full meaning of the journey towards the cross could only be understood in hindsight.
I wonder how they felt once they fully understood. When Jesus prayed at the Mount of Olives, His disciples followed Him and He asked them to pray. Instead, they fell asleep. And, later, Peter disowned Jesus. They let Jesus down–because they felt tired or feared persecution. They were human.
But, imagine how they felt once Jesus revealed Himself to them after His death and resurrection. If I place myself in their shoes, I imagine that once the initial joy subsided, I would feel incredible regret. Regret that I failed Christ in what he asked of me, in His darkest moment during His time among us.
But the beauty of the story is that, despite the disciples’ failures –disciples who knew Him and followed him during his time on Earth–Christ went to the cross for them, too. The disciples knew not only a direct relationship with Christ while he walked among them, but they were the first to be restored fully to God. They received forgiveness and grace that must have felt incredibly tangible in the moment.
When I put myself in their shoes, I think of those moments when I have wronged someone I love deeply–my husband or children or parents or sibling. I replay those moments, and I think of the depth of my regret, but also how intimate those conversations of restoration and forgiveness are — the opening of hearts and the pouring out of forgiveness. Heartfelt moments–often difficult moments–like no others. The embracing of each other when the valley that separated us closes and we have that intimate moment when grace comes rushing down.
I imagine that is how the disciples must have felt. Tangible love, grace, and forgiveness from God.
That is the same love, grace, and forgiveness that Christ offers to all. I don’t know if it feels as tangible to me as it must have to the disciples, but it is the same. He is present always with that love, grace, and forgiveness. We just need to turn towards him.
So this season of Lent, as I journey to the cross, I think of how intimately the disciples knew Jesus and how He rocked their world. It reminds me just how tangible God is —if I will just enter into relationship with Him and let His grace pour down on me.