47 days. It’s been 47 days since Ash Wednesday. We’re here. The day we’ve all anticipated ….being celebrated in a way none of us could have imagined. Not in our wildest dreams. Every conversation I have with friends and family revolve around the absolute awe at our present day circumstances. As much as we try to wrap our heads and hearts around todays current events we just cant seem to get a grip.
Oh… but God can. Our all powerful, all knowing, loving God who sent his one and only Son to die the death he did not deserve so we could have a life we don’t deserve…… He can and he does. So like the rest of the Sundays of Lent… I leave you today with the questions that you can bring straight to YOUR Father. YOUR redeemer. YOUR hope. YOUR life. YOUR everything. He wants to SPEAK TO YOU – he really does. May you experience his presence in YOUR LIFE, in a way you are clear that HE is real and HE is for you not against you. Yes –
CHRIST is REAL, He is RISEN, He is here…. INDEED!!!
God… what have you taught me during this Lenten season?
God… what am I still gripping that you want me to let go of?
God… where do you need me to trust you more?
God… what have you promised to forgive that I havn’t forgiven myself?
God… who can I share your love with today?
loving you where you are. pointing you forward to where He is.
Luke 23:55-56. MSG The women who had been companions of Jesus from the beginning saw all this take place and watched as the body was laid in the tomb. Afterward they returned home and prepared fragrant spices and ointments and were planning to anoint his body after the Sabbath was completed, according to the commandments of the law.
Luke 23:56 NIV But they RESTED on the Sabbath in obedience to the commandment
The ladies were planning….hmmmm…
I love calendars. Love them….
The calendar, day planner industry is gigantic. There is no end to the choices, styles, colors, price ranges of these tools that promise to bring peace and productivity when we use them. I love seeing my life clearly marked out in the small squares representing days of the week in my preferred date book. Just yesterday I laid out my plans for next week. Tided up my desk and closed the door to my office. I had peace knowing I was prepared for the 7 days following Easter weekend. Having clarity on whats coming helps me stay present in the current moments – which is just what I want to do these next 2 days. In my life and business I create long term plans and then break them down into months, weeks, days and hours. I’ve spent a good deal of my life learning how to maximize time by being properly prepared. The reality is… I really love the feeling of control. Don’t we all.
There is only one verse (that I can find) in all of scripture that describes the events of today – Saturday. The day between the darkest night and the brightest day. It was the Jewish custom to spend one day resting as per the model of Creator God himself – called the Sabbath. Exodus 20:8 “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work” In order to properly recognize the Sabbath they needed to prepare in advance. In Luke 23 we see the women doing just that – they prepared spices so they could then rest on the Sabbath. They wanted to be fully ready to administer the rest of the spices to Jesus dead body after their rest day was complete.
It says in the study notes of my bible that “Yards of cloth and large quantities of spices were used in preparing a body for burial. Seventy five pounds of myrrh and aloes were already used on that first evening. More was purchased for the return of the women after the Sabbath.”
Wow – they had invested quite a bit – time, energy, money to prepare for what they thought would be their Sunday morning activities. Oh how surprised they would be ….. spices would be left untouched, time would be spent in celebration not continued mourning, oh their lives were about to be turned up side down for the 3rd day in a row. Their plans were not God’s plans and aren’t we all so glad about that.
We are all sitting in what feels like an endless Sabbath during this COVID crises. We want to make plans but have no answers about the ending. We look to school administrators and government officials for answers they can’t possibly give us. We feel frustrated because we have graduation announcements to order, caterers to book, vacations plans to complete. We may feel unproductive and lazy. We’re getting antsy and possibly increasingly anxious. Many parents are realizing school from home is now a real thing until fall. Many brides and grooms are shifting dates for their big day or cancelling the celebration all together – opting for a small ceremony with an officiant, 2 witnesses and a Zoom account so loved ones can gather round. This endless sabbath… oh its hard.
At the beginning of this lenten series I decided to focus on the life of Jesus. I wanted to discover how he made decisions in his short time on earth. I wanted to make a list of his yes’s and no’s. We learned that Jesus does nothing outside of his fathers will and ONLY did what his father told him… including today. Long before Jesus walked the earth we see God instituting this idea of rest. It is no coincidence that Jesus death happened on a Friday with the Sabbath happening on the next day. It forced his followers to slow down. To trust that they could get to what they were eager to do after they took time to rest. I’m guessing that even though this was a habit – they may have felt antsy and eager for the sabbath to pass. I’m guessing they wanted to continue to carry out THEIR plans.
But Jesus – he followed His fathers plans once again. He stayed silent in the tomb all that Sabbath. He would rise when God told him too. Can you imagine his excitement moments before the stone was rolled away?? The notes on his followers day planners were about to wiped clean. His plans would trump all.
As you and I sit today and wait. As we head into Easter Sunday – knowing the end of the story – I pray we can all offer our lives, our plans, our hopes and desires for our preferred outcomes to the altar of God’s will. I pray we can trust that whatever we think would be the best future for ourselves and our loved ones will never compare to the future God has prepared. May we experience the peace and hope that comes when we surrender ALL to him.
Loving you where you are. Pointing you forward to where he is.
Matthew 27:24 When Pilate saw that he was getting nowhere, but that instead an uproar was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd, ” I am innocent of this man’s blood,” he said, “It’s your responsibility.”
I wore a mask to the grocery store for the first time this week. I strapped it around my ears as I was walking into the store and I wanted to burst into tears. Before grabbing a cart, I was instructed to add plastic gloves to my new shopping attire. I felt like I was more appropriately prepared for surgery rather than just a quick trip to pick up supplies for Easter dinner. As I pushed my cart down the isles I wondered , “Can people tell If I’m smiling at them? – Should I even try?” I completed my task, drove my quick route home, removed my mask and promptly…
washed my hands.
Washing our hands – its one of our top defenses against contracting and spreading COVID-19. Hot water, soap, 20 seconds. It has become a common comment between friends, parents to children, podcasters sign offs “Have a good day – and go wash your hands.” This one simple act has become one of the most powerful contributors to stopping this crazy and returning our lives to what once was. The stakes are high. If I contract the virus and don’t stop to take the time to wash it from my skin- I become a carrier of a disease that if spread to a vulnerable person – could lead to their death. Its a big deal – this hand washing thing.
In todays readings we see this same simple act having even greater ramifications. We join the scene in Matthew 27. Jesus has been arrested and has an audience with Pilate the governor. It was Pilates responsibility to determine his guilt and his future. He was amazed at Jesus calm demeanor and his unwillingness to engage in his defense. His decision to offer Jesus as one of the two choices the gathered crowd could set free ( a common practice during the Passover feast) still brings chills to my spine. His wife confirmed his decision to remove himself from the process by warning him, “Don’t have anything to do with this innocent man, for I have suffered a great deal today in a dream because of him.” We see the familiar scene – Pilate offering the murderer Barabbas and the innocent, perfect Jesus. Upon hearing the shouts of the crowd choice “JESUS – CRUCIFY HIM.” – he made a public demonstration of his attempt to separate himself from the responsibility of the death of Jesus.
v. 24 “When Pilate saw that he was getting nowhere, but that instead an uproar was starting, he took water and WASHED HIS HANDS in front of the crowd, “I am innocent of this man’s blood,” he said. ” It is your responsibility!” Probably one of the most famous accounts of hand washing in history – which ushered in the most important, effective, disease ending acts ever.
V. 26 Then he released Barabbas to them. But he had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified.
The death of Jesus – brought the death of effects of sin in the lives of the people 2000 years ago and to us today. The end. It was the great vaccine that solved our biggest problem. Pilate thought his act of hand washing would confirm his innocence when it actuality it magnifies his sin. There is no amount of scrubbing that can take away the truth that each of us is in desperate need of this remedy that came through the shedding of Jesus innocent blood.
Today, this Friday we call “Good”, we will all wash our hands for what will feel like at least 1000 times. We will work hard to not touch our face. We will make something creative for dinner so we don’t have to venture out to the store for missing ingredients from our pantry. We will remember that famous hand washing so long ago, the unfairness of it all, the pain that followed for Jesus and his followers, the very darkest day in the history of the world.
And we will wait… in anticipation of the healing, the victory celebration to come, that has absolutely no connection with our attempts to clean ourselves up and everything to do with a Savior that loves us …
right where we are. and points us forward to where HE is.
Matthew 26:20-21. When evening came, Jesus was reclining at the the table with the Twelve. And while they were eating, he said, ” I tell you the truth, one of you will betray me.” Matthew 26: 31 Then Jesus told them, ” This very night you will all fall away on account of me, for it is written: ” ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.”
I love a good dinner party. Good friends gathered around good food. Lingering around a candle lit table for hours… laughing, talking enjoying being together. It really is one of my favorite things. Eating with friends builds bonds, solidifies relationships, creates community. A special dinner out at a restaurant together is often the first step in a romantic relationship and often how a couple celebrates their love year after year. This last week my son face timed with a friend that he would normally enjoy breakfast with in his college cafeteria. They “met” in the morning, the time they would have had a meal together if their campus was still open. You may already have plans to eat Easter dinner together with family via ZOOM this Sunday- because lets face it – meals and extra special meals are important for many more reasons then getting nutrients into our bodies. And today’s account of one of Jesus last gatherings with his closest friends, a dinner party, is no different.
The disciples had made preparations, per Jesus request, for a special celebration of the Passover meal. It was happening all over the city of Jerusalem that Thursday night. He had instructed them on who to talk to and what to say to secure the location. The disciples “did as Jesus directed them” and by evening they were ready to celebrate. The next scene that is revealed in this story seems to fall toward the middle maybe even the end of the meal – the time when dinner party conversation moves from the highlights of the day, surface level stuff to deeper sometimes more challenging topics. This dinner party is no different and Jesus makes sure of that.
You can imagine the camera taking in a shot of the entire table, you can hear the buzz of conversation but not anything clearly. The camera lens narrows to the face and body of Jesus “reclining at the table”, his words become louder than the rest of the conversation and he changes the tone of the night completely. v. 21 – “And while they were eating, he said “I tell you the truth, one of you will betray me.” The happy mood has shifted instantly to sadness – each disciple wondering if he is talking about them. We see Jesus explaining that the one who dips their bread in the cup at the same time as he would be the one. We see Judas acting and Jesus confirming it would indeed be him. Was there a collective sigh around the table? Did the disciples have any idea how Jesus would be betrayed? I can imagine them thinking.. ” well at least it’s not me!”
Oh but wait, remaining 11 lounging around the dinner table, Jesus has a word for you. And friends reading this, he has a word for us too. Judas wasn’t the only one that would need the saving grace of Jesus death and resurrection…we all would… ALL.
After Jesus shares the bread and the wine of the passover meal. After he has clearly identified his betrayer – he drops the next conversation stopping sentence…
“This very night you will ALL fall away on account of me.”
All… no one left out of this one. Not only would Judas betray Jesus , but his closest friends would desert him. And we see just that …. 25 verses later in chapter 26 after Jesus is arrested in the garden… these words….
“Then ALL the disciples deserted him and fled.”
Not one person, Not one faith full follower stuck around. They had JUST spent a beautiful evening celebrating a meal, enjoying one another’s company – bonds of friendship forged over several years of learning with and loving their friend and soon to be Savior Jesus.
Imagine hosting a dinner party for your closest friends. You laugh you enjoy the food. In your mind – its a really good night. They leave with heartfelt hugs and goodbyes. Later that night you happily snuggle in to bed and decide to take a quick peak at social media. As you scroll you notice your self tagged in post after post from these same friends… that had just been at your dining room table….
berating your cooking.
criticizing your home decor.
revealing comments you made that were meant for those ears only.
Ouch. betrayal of friends – its just about one of the hardest things in life. And Jesus knows it better then we ever will.
What simply amazes me is that the story doesn’t end here. Jesus choose to keep walking out the plan of his father despite the actions of his closest friends. His friends may now feel like enemies but the will of his father trumps all. His darkest night would be spent… alone. Oh what love… what amazing, beautiful, unthinkable love he showed his disciples and he shows us today.
I’ve been at the table with Jesus and darn it I’ve sometimes knowingly and unknowingly been the one to desert him. It shows up in the way I allow self centeredness to control my actions. It shows up when I allow fear to control my thoughts. It shows up when I judge others around me. It’s my ugly, sin filled self that sometimes pulls itself right up to the table with Jesus and dives into my meal thinking “surely not I Lord.” And he says ” yes, you.” But he doesn’t leave me. He doesn’t reply to my after dinner nasty facebook post in anger, or bitterness, or rage. He just obediently walks to the cross to die for the ugliness I’ve revealed. His one time death covers my lifetime of sin. Oh what love.
As you sit with Jesus today. As you reflect on that last meal…. allow yourself to be a part of the “ALL”. because those are the ones he died for.
Oh what love.
Loving you where you are. Pointing you forward to where he is.
Matthew 21:18. Early in the morning, as he was on his way back to the city, he was hungry. Seeing a fig tree by the road, he went up to it but found nothing on it except leaves. Then he said to it, ” May you never bear fruit again!” Immediately the tree withered.
Maybe its because its 5 pm and I’m ready for dinner. (And I really wish someone else would show up to cook it) – that this verse from Holy Week is striking a chord. It’s a beautiful afternoon in our little town – sunny, blue sky, 77 glorious degrees ….and I’m hungry… and possibly a bit irritable. I really wish someone else would show up and I could ask them “What’s for dinner?” and they would have an answer.
I spent a good chunk of my day checking in on people, intentionally and unintentionally. I checked on my business team – a good bit that is located in Michigan – Detroit to be exact. The area that holds 64% of the COVID cases in Michigan. I learned of a hospital that is entirely dedicated to COVID-19 patients. I checked on friends that I hadn’t heard from in awhile but they had been on my mind. One friends husband is being laid off after 20 years of service. I checked on my kids – the ones living under the same roof as me but we spend the days in separate rooms working and completing school assignments. I went for a walk with my daughter and we saw more friends that we spent time visiting with ( 6 feet apart of course) that were wrestling with their own set of challenges. It was good to check in , to take the pulse of people I love, to see into their struggles. And now I’m home… its 5:00 p.m and I’m hungry.. and possibly a bit irritable.
So right now. In this very moment. I need a Savior that got hungry too.
In todays passage we see Jesus shortly after his triumphant entrance into Jerusalem, just after he had the conversation regarding the religious leaders challenge with children. ( see HOLY WEEK: tuesday – post) and just after he passionately cleared out the temple of money changers. He was in a FIESTY mood to be sure. And he was hungry.
As he and his disciples were walking along, he and possibly them in a hungry state – they see a fig tree – with no figs. Jesus – sees the tree , curses it because it is not bearing fruit and it immediately withers and dies. Now, if you are looking for an in depth look at the theological significance of this event – you are looking in the wrong place. Today – today I need Jesus in all his humanness. I need him in his 100% flesh and blood manhood. One that got irritated when he was hungry and cursed fig trees. I just need to know that he gets me, us, in our possibly slightly irritated state. A place where we wish this Corona crazy would go away. A time when kids went to school and we didn’t question our every move wondering if we were following ” the rules” correctly.
Friends – Jesus – our Savior that overcame death and the grave….
he got hungry.
He felt the pangs in his stomach and his emotions.
And he 100% understands when you do too.
Loving you where you are. Pointing your forward to where He is.
Matthew 21:14-16. The blind and the lame came to him at the temple, and he healed them. But when the chief priests and the teachers of the law saw the wonderful things he did and the children shouting in the temple area, “Hosanna to the Son of David,” they were indignant. “Do you hear what these children are saying?” they asked him. “Yes,” replied Jesus, ” Have you never read, ” ‘From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise’?” And he left them and went out of the city to Bethany, where he spent the night.
I never got it. It actually surprised me the first time it happened. The emotion that rose up unexpectedly. From out of nowhere. I just didn’t get it – until now. Or until yesterday when I re-read, in my opinion, one of the most powerful passages in scripture. It’s one of the many events that occur between Palm Sunday and Easter and I bet, like me, you may be surprised at its significance.
Allow me a moment to back up. When Tom and I were first married we served on staff at a large congregation in Lafayette, IN. We hoped to have children someday but had no immediate plans. We loved our life and ministry – Tom as an assistant pastor and me as the Director of Christian Education. One of my main responsibilities was Youth Ministry so I spent a good deal of time with kids. It was amazing.
One Friday evening the elementary school our church supported held a music program featuring both choral and instrumental talents of children in grades Pre-K-8. It was at this event where the above mentioned unexpected emotion made its debut. It was the littlest of the bunch – the Pre- K that made the impact. They were each dressed in their finest all lined up on risers in front of the crowd of proud parents. In the middle of their sweet melody sung at the top of their lungs – I started to tear up. I was crying and I did not have my own child that moved to me to it in a proud mom moment. It wasn’t just a single tear that wanted to escape down my cheek but I was ready to sob. What in the world? I just kept thinking, “We’re getting a glimpse in to heaven.” I believed that the voices of children was a blessings sent straight from our God above. And yesterday I found out – I was exactly right.
In the above verse we see Jesus, shortly after his triumphant entrance into Jerusalem the Sunday of Passover week. The day we now refer to as Palm Sunday. People of all ages had lined the streets. We see specific mention of the CHILDREN and the shouts of Hosanna that rang through the air. And this just ticked the teachers of the law right off. The NIV translation describes them as ‘indignant.’ The ERV – ‘ Angry.’ TLB – ‘disturbed.’ TPT – ‘furious.’ WOW. Doesn’t that just seem odd? Children – causing such an emotional response out of the religious leaders. These grown men moved to anger, fury, indignation… because of the praise of little children?
This next part…
This is the part that if we were together – I would make you sit down so I knew I had your FULL, 100% attention. I would make you put your phone away and I may even take your face in my hands. So listen in….
When Jesus calmly responds to the leaders question “Do you hear what these children are saying?” he quotes Psalm 8:2...’O Lord, O Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory in the heavens. From the LIPS OF CHILDREN and infants you have ordained praise because of your enemies to silence the foe of the avenger.’ Jesus is using the voices of children to …
SILENCE THE FOE and the AVENGER. The darnkess is being pushed away by THE VOICES OF CHILDREN.
Look at the note from the Concordia Study bible on the meaning of Psalm 8:2. “The mighty God, whose glory is displayed across the face of the heavens, appoints and evokes the praise of LITTLE CHILDREN to silence the dark powers arrayed against him.
The emotion that rose up in me in the cafeteria almost 30 years ago and the emotions of the religious leaders ….hundreds of years ago…. finds its root in the same place. The incredible power of God coming through a most unexpected source – the voices of little children. When it hit me it was comforting and encouraging and up lifting. When it hit the teachers of the law hardend hearts it was condemning and irritating. The truth and power of God’s love is like that – it won’t, it can’t leave you neutral. As Jesus walked through the darkest week of his earthly life, a light was going before him… fueled by the voice of the littles.
As we continue to seek places of peace and comfort in our ever changing world we may be overlooking one simple yet powerful source – the voices of children. The voices that rang out on the streets of Jerusalem. The voices that now fill the homes of families 24 hours a day. The voices that at moments may be the source of irritation or fear. These beautiful voices, when raised in praise, push back the darkness. It’s spiritual warfare at its finest. Such a brilliant yet surprising plan. But isn’t that just like God – bringing strategies against the darkness we would least expect? It’s his theme all through scripture and one we would be wise to remember – using the weak to defeat the strong. The foolish to silence the wise. David, Gideon, Moses, Paul…. Jesus.
When our circumstances point to apparent defeat. When our plans melt into nothing – we trust our creator God, the one who is always right, who is always on time, who will never leave us or forsake us. Listen…
His Victory cry is being raised….. from a most beautiful place…
the mouths of children.
Loving you where you are. Pointing you forward to where He is.
Parades. Children’s Choir Concerts. Corporate Temple Clean outs. Teaching engagements. Dinner parties. Spa experiences. Night time prayer vigils. Betrayal of friends over and over and over. The darkest night. The longest day. The brightest morning.
Jesus’ last week on earth in human form was no joke. From the moment Palm Sunday starts we see a focused, not messing around, fierce yet compassionate man with one goal in mind – following the instructions of his heavenly father. The end of his earthly journey is in site and each moment of this week held importance. Jesus had a packed schedule and filled every encounter with teachable moments. We don’t see him checking off items on his personal bucket list, “Last things I want to do as a human” but living out the calling he was sent to fulfill all along.
I am realizing as I prepare to write these last devotions of what has felt like an extra long Lenten season… that I could have spent all 47 days on just the events of this week. I have never stopped to pay attention to the details from Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday – until this year. My husband tells me that 1/3 of the gospel messages from Matthew, Mark, Luke and John are the retelling of the events of this week. 1/3. That’s a big piece of the pie. And one we would do well to spend some time processing.
so…. I’m stopping here today and my bossy, cheerleader, extroverted self…. is going to direct you to the WORD. As we head into this week… the greatest gift I can give you is an invitation to read it for yourself. Matthew: Chapters 21-28. Yep – all of it. You’ll start with Palm Sunday and move through the resurrection. Read it in several versions. Take a pause from the scrolling, the game playing, the baking, the posting…. and settle in to begin your own personal journey to the cross.
Oh… I’ll be back tomorrow. Jesus has shown me so much I want to share. I just want us all to be starting in the same place. May God bless your time with him in his story for you… today.
Loving you where you are. Pointing you forward to where he is.
Pull out your notebook, your best pen… and start writing… start listening… God wants to speak to you today.
Hebrews 12: 1-2
NIV: New International Version
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses ( who by faith have testified to the truth of God’s absolute faithfulness) stripping off every unnecessary weight and the sin which so easily and cleverly entangles us, let us run with endurance and active persistence the race that is set before us, (looking away from all that will distract us and) focusing our eyes on Jesus, who is the Author and Perfecter of faith ( the first incentive for our belief and the One who brings our faith to maturity)
ERV – Easy Reader Version
We have all these great people around us as examples. Their lives tell us what faith means. So we, too, should run the race that is before us and never quit. We should remove from our lives anything that would slow us down and the sin that so often makes us fall. We must never stop looking to Jesus. He is the leader of our faith. He is the one who makes our faith complete.
MSG – The Message
Do you see what this means – all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we’d better get on with it. Strip down, start running – and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished the race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed- that exhilarating finish in and with God.
The Passion Version
As for us, we have all these great witnesses, who encircle us like clouds. So we must let go of every wound that has pierced us and the sin we so easily fall into. Then we will be able to run life’s marathon race with passion and determination, for the path has already been marked out before us. We look away from the natural realm and we fasten our gaze onto Jesus who birthed faith within us and who leads us forward into faiths perfection.
GO ahead… carve out some time. Write the words. Pray for the Holy Spirit to open you heart to what God wants to communicate with you.
And if you have an extra minute… I’d love to hear what he had to say.
Loving you where you are. Pointing forward to where He is.
John 14:27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
Soooooo… next week is going to look a little different.
No Palm Sunday worship where we will receive our Palm crosses the ladies guild has painstakingly folded the week prior. No Sunday school children marching down church isles waving Palm branches – reinacting Hosanna Sunday. No Extra choir rehearsals for one of the most attended church services of the year. Musicians have been cancelled. Restaurant reservations have been cancelled. No last minute shopping trips to find little white sandals for little girls feet. No coordination of menus among family members for a large Easter dinner gathering. Mom makes the ham. Sister makes the sweet potatoe casserole. Sis in law makes the cheesecake. In an effort to be mindful of food shortage we may even decide to forgo coloring easter eggs.
Indeed. Its going to look and feel very, very different.
As I’ve reflected on this time I realized I have actually walked through a similar journey at this exact time of year. I reference this season so often because it made such an impact on me and my family. It’s where I learned to trust God most and saw his work most clearly. I hope you have times you can look back on to see the same. If you don’t – pay attention. I’m guessing God wants to use this time to teach us a thing or two.
When our son entered the hospital 3 weeks prior to Easter in 2007 we did not plan on spending more than a night. We certainly didn’t plan on admittance to ICU, teams of specialists hovering over him for days on end with way more questions then answers. We didn’t plan on him working with speech, and occupational and physical therapists multiple times a day. We didn’t plan on relying on friends and family to make meals for us each night. We didn’t plan on never receiving a specific diagnosis or zero predictions on when or if he would fully heal. And we certainly didn’t plan on eating Tuna fish for Easter dinner.
By the time we had reached Holy Week or the week proceeding Easter our family had created a new normal. We had a routine down pat. We lived day to day not knowing if this visit would stretch out days, weeks or months. We all needed structure and we had found it. It was critical for our sanity and survival. Tom and I took turns spending the night with Jonah while the other was home with the girls. The parent that had been home would drop the girls at school in the morning, attempt to get either business tasks or ministry tasks done during the day. After school we would pick up the girls as well as a meal someone had left at the school for us and make the 40 minute drive the hospital. Our family would then spend the evening together eating our meal, enjoying the fabulous play area on the children’s floor of the hospital. We would work on the girls homework and gather around our unresponsive sons bed. When it was time to get the girls to bed, the parent that had stayed in the hospital the night prior would take them home and the other parent settled in for their night in the hospital. We way lowered the bar on everything in life except the needs of all of our children. Including Easter dinner.
As Holy week unfolded we began to see signs that we would be able to leave. Despite the lack of diagnosis Jonahs medical team had just flat run out of tests and could do nothing more for us. Holy week was prep week for taking a wheelchair bound, unable to talk or swallow or communicate son home to our family of 5. On Tuesday a feeding tube was surgically inserted into his stomach. We learned how to work a feeding machine that would pump food into his stomach while he slept. We scheduled therapy 6 times a week held in locations not less than 45 minutes away. We borrowed a twin bed from our neighbor to replace the loft bed he would no longer be able to climb into. Tom and I were trained in how to get him in and out of his wheelchair to continue the exercises we hoped would lead to his ability to walk. This was all happening while Tom was prepping to lead our congregation through one of the busiest worship weeks of the church year.
In an effort to keep things semi normal for my girls I reached out to friends to ask if they could put together Easter baskets for them. And they did. They took my list and shopped and created beautiful baskets for Allie and Brooke. My parents had come in to town and my mom volunteered to spend Saturday night at the hospital so Tom and I could both be home on Easter morning. Tom lead worship. Our praise band knocked the music out of the park. We enjoyed the hugs and prayers of our faith community that was so important to us. Then we headed to the hospital for Easter dinner.
I’ll never forget that Easter afternoon. Our family of 5 and my parents huddled around Jonahs bed with styrofoam containers holding our individual orders from the hospital restaurant located in the lobby. We are so grateful that it was actually quite tasty. I picked Tuna. A tuna fish sandwich with a dill pickle on the side for my Easter dinner. There was a feeling of anticipation in the air because it had just been cleared that we would be able to bring Jonah home the next day. We had learned all that they thought we needed and discharge would happen the next day – the day after Easter. The day we celebrated the death and RESURRECTION of our Savior. We didn’t think about the backyard easter egg hunt that wasn’t happening. We didn’t talk about the cheese potatoes we weren’t eating. We weren’t critiquing the clothes people had chosen to wear to Easter Sunday church. We just sat and ate in a peace that can only come from the Holy Spirit. I remember the smell of the room. I remember the warmth and cozy feeling of 4 year old Brooke snuggled on my lap. I hear the sounds of nurses and doctors poking their heads into our room, wishing us well as news spread that we would be leaving the next morning. As my minds eye goes back to that scene I also see the arms of Jesus wrapped around that room. Reminding us of the victory we were celebrating that day. The victory that brought us life and peace and power and hope not only in the future but in that moment we were living. He was holding us all tight. I’m certain if he let go we would have all fallen to pieces. But of course he would never do that and he never will.
Oh friends. This is really, really hard. This looking ahead to another week of the unknown. This saying goodbye to lifetime traditions that mean so much. Let me be the voice, the reminder to you today… what ever…
Next week holds. No matter what you eat for easter dinner. No matter how you celebrate this MOST important event. No matter how the Monday after looks –
His arms are tight. And they are strong. They have fought death and won. Jesus has …
Hold tight to that today.
Loving you where you are. Pointing you forward to where He is.