Throughout the weeks of Lent I spent the first minutes of each morning before lit candles and a cup of coffee with a simple, yet profound, book in my lap: The Promise of Lent Devotional-A 40 day Journey Toward the Miracle of Easter by Chris Tiegreen.
I remember well the day I purchased it. It was displayed on a table in our local Lifeway Christian Bookstore, next to a devotional based on the writing of C.S. Lewis. Now, being a proud Rabbit Room member and lover of all things British, my first instinct was to grab the writings of Mr. Lewis, call it a no-brainer, and head to the checkout counter. But something about that little purple book by an author of whom I had never heard with a golden crown of thorns gracing the otherwise plain cover caused me to pause and pick it up. I flipped to the devotional for Day 1 and knew, immediately, that this was the one I was supposed to have. With my apologies to C.S. Lewis, I bought the little purple book and dove in, day by day, as Lent marched me forward to the Cross.
God is so good. With each day and every page, I was reminded of simple truths, known in my mind but often forgotten in the heat of the moment. (You may have seen some of the quotes I shared on Instagram and Facebook throughout the 40 days of Lent.) Truths such as these:
- You are called to celebrate the revelation of the coming kingdom long before you see it. Your new citizenship is far more glorious than your old.
- Those moments of crisis are a mark of all good fiction, and they are also a mark of God’s best stories.
- The world says, “How dare you call me sinful?” and stays enslaved. We say, “Yes, I am that and more,” and are set free.
- The dawn is most beautiful after the darkest of nights.
- The ways of the world have to surrender to the decrees of the insistently, stubbornly, relentlessly faithful.
And then this sentence…on Good Friday as the beautiful strains of Andrew Peterson’s new album, Resurrection Letters, Volume 1, washed over me and brought me into a beautiful place of worship…”Friday is not the end of the story.”
Is it Friday in your life, where you are, today? Are you standing at the foot of a cross, dreams shattered and heart broken, in disbelief? Are you caught up in a storm, not of your own choosing, and tossed about on a sea of tears? Finding joy in those seasons can be difficult, if not impossible. How do you find joy in sickness, death (whether of a loved one or of a dream), a rebellious child, an adulterous husband, or poverty? How do you see the “good” in the very, very bad?
There was nothing “good” on Good Friday. To all outward appearances the Son of God ended up just being an innocent man murdered on a cross between two thieves. Everyone who had believed in him walked away disappointed and afraid. Their hope was gone. The words he had spoken to prepare them for this day had pooled into a jumbled mess of confusion in the back of their grief-stricken and panicked minds. There was nothing for which to be thankful.
But what they could not see was the other side of the veil. Their earthly eyes, blinded by tears and worry, were not attuned to the hum of voices and the drumbeat of Heaven building up into a cadence of victorious joy that would burst through on the morning of the third day when the dead body of Jesus suddenly drew a deep breath and sat up, unwrapped the grave clothes that bound Him in death, watched the light of the morning sun break through as the angel rolled the stone away and walked clean out of that tomb.
It may be Friday in your life, and right now there is nothing good about that. But will you choose to hope? Will you cry out to the Father along with me, “I believe, help my unbelief?” And can you rest on Saturday, just as our Savior rested, knowing that Sunday is coming? Resurrection is coming?
He will make the joy so worth the pain. It’s a promise.
Friday is not the end of the story.
And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” Revelation 21:3-4