You can begin again.
All creation declares this truth; even the very seasons themselves make this claim again and again as a reminder. Here, in the Northeast, winters can feel intolerably long, and the closer we come to spring, the more painful and intolerable each cold and dreary day feels. The sharp, cold dampness of early April often tempts us to believe spring isn’t coming…yet it does, year after year.
Actually, I don’t think we believe on an intellectual level that spring isn’t coming, but nevertheless, we allow our spirits to be affected by that cold dampness, and in turn, we live like the cold will last forever.
And even so, we still have a ways to go. We’re in the thick of it right now, stuck in the middle of winter, dreaming of spring. But it is coming. For those of us who observe it, today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the Lenten season. It’s a season of fasting, praying, contemplation. And it points us towards Holy Week and the cross.
I often think about what it might have felt like to be one of Jesus’ disciples during this season. They had spent the previous three years in the everyday presence of the Son of God, witnessing countless miracles and receiving divine revelation and instruction. Only a few of those teachings are recounted in Scripture–just think of all the things He must have said to them that have not been written down, for He spent nearly every hour of every day with them. He taught them frequently about the kingdom of God and foretold His death and resurrection. I’m sure the disciples did not fully grasp or understand everything He was telling them, but I do think they got it for the most part.
But then…life happened, as it does for every one of us. The events of Jesus’ last week unfolded quickly, probably without much time for reflection and processing. Before they even knew what was happening, betrayal arose from out of their tight-knit group and fear disbanded them. In a matter of hours, their beloved friend and teacher was arrested, beaten, condemned, and crucified.
I think about how the disciples must have felt that Saturday: teetering back and forth between the numbness of shock and disbelief and the consuming blackness of utter grief and loss. Abandoned. Rejected. Disillusioned. Hopeless. I do not believe they had simply forgotten what Jesus said. They remembered. But the pain and bitter reality of the circumstances at hand clouded the truth that the ‘third day’ He spoke of was coming. It was right at the door, but they could not see it.
Are you stuck in Saturday? Is your spirit dampened by a seemingly endless winter? New life–resurrection–is coming. It’s right at the door! And it’s available to you, to me, for the taking. For the embracing, not just the passive-receiving. Resurrection life is transformational by nature; it’s what makes us new creations. Jesus’ resurrection didn’t just defeat death and secure us a place with the Father as a one-time transaction–part of this unbelievably good news is that His resurrection life is continually available to us, a perpetual springtime for our winter-weary souls. It exists not only in spite of our circumstances, but outside of them. It is what allows us to truly begin anew, each day, in each area in our lives that needs to be put to death or resurrected.
But it’s promised. Right at the door. Hang in there, hang on, press in. Sunday’s coming.