The Story Only God Knows
He is risen!
He is risen indeed!
But for many of us, the reality of the resurrection competes with the reality that we still stand in the middle of a plain of dry bones (Ezekiel 37), looking over a wasteland of hopelessness, despair, chaos.
“And He led me around among them, and behold, there were many on the surface of the valley, and behold, they were very dry.”
And God asks Ezekiel, “Son of man, can these bones live?”
Ezekiel has no idea. (Smart man not to pretend that he’s wiser than he is.) So he answers the Lord, “O Lord God, you know.”
Yes indeed, God does know. It’s all in His time and in His way, but God knows these dry bones shall live again.
This Monday morning after a gloriously sunny, holy Sunday, there is hope for us who stand in the middle of a vast valley of dry bones — circumstances without life, without breath, scattered and broken.
“Even in your despair, observe the rituals.
Pray your prayers. However hollow and unsatisfying they feel.
God can fill them.
God is God, who made the world from nothing — and as God, can still astonish you.
He can make of your mouthings a prayer — and of your groanings, a hymn.
Observe the ritual. Prepare your spices.
One story is done indeed, my daughter. You’re right.
You’ve entered the dark night of the soul.
But another story — one you cannot conceive of (it’s God who conceives it!) — starts at sunrise and the empty time between, while sadly you prepare your spices, is in fact preparing you!
Soon you will change.”*
This was my reading on Saturday, the Saturday between Good Friday and Easter Sunday. The sad, Sabbath Saturday when the women who followed Jesus despaired of their lives without their friend, their Savior. They were preparing the spices to anoint Jesus’ body when they went to the tomb the following day.
We of course know what was in store for them. We live on this side of the glory, of that forever remembered sunrise, bathing that garden bright. They had no idea, though. All they could see was darkness and despair and death.
Lifeless, breathless boney death.
But we know! We know! It’s all I can do not to shout at the women on the page, “Wait wait! Don’t give up! He lives again! He won’t be in the tomb when you get there! He’s risen! You won’t need your spices!”
Someday, will someone be reading my story and want to yell at my name on the page, “Wait! Hope! Don’t give up! The light will come to your circumstances, life and breath to your dry bones valley, and the glory of the Lord will shine all around you! He has another story for you! You’ll see. You won’t always be this sad.”
Today I hold my two realities.
Jesus is very alive and my valley is very dry.
So I observe my rituals, trusting God to fill them, making my mouthings, prayers and my groanings, hymns. And I trust, yes, trust, yes trust trust trust, that this empty, dry, broken time is in fact preparing me for the other story.
The one only God knows about.
*Walter Wangerin Jr., Reliving The Passion — Meditations on the Suffering, Death, and Resurrection of Jesus as Recorded in Mark; p. 152