In the Hand of God
It was Saturday. Yesterday was Friday. Yesterday they had watched Him die. Yesterday they had witnessed the sun refusing to shine and the earth quaking because their Creator had lost His life. They had watched him be tortured and beaten. They had witnessed the crowds mocking Him and them nailing Him to die on a cross. They had been there when He cried that it was finished. They had seen Him be buried. They knew He was gone.
And now it was Saturday...they had woken to hopelessness and fear of the unknown that lay before them. This Man they had followed for three years was now gone. His Father had allowed Him to be crucified and now He was lying in a borrowed tomb. They were afraid for their futures for they did not understand what Sunday would bring. They remembered the horror of Friday. Now they were scattered...fearful for their very lives.
Saturday was a day of darkness and hopelessness. It was a day of fear and not knowing what would follow. The hopelessness they felt on that Saturday had to be heart wrenching and horrible. They had been with Jesus for three years and today He was gone...silent...and they were as sheep without a shepherd.
We spend a lot of our time in Saturdays. We have heard the words of our Lord and we know them to be true, and yet we get hit with Fridays that are dark, hard, and desperate. We watch things in our lives fall apart with no hope of them being repaired. We have Fridays when the last thing we ever expected happens and we find ourselves lost for what to do next. There are days in our lives when the sun seems to hide itself from us and our heart feels as if it is being ripped in two. There are days when God seems painfully silent and we feel that He has turned His back on us.
Saturdays can be a time of waiting. A time when we rehearse the events of the day before trying to find evidence of hope or at least a sense of understanding. Saturdays can be dark and long. Saturdays can leave us looking at Friday without any hope for a Sunday. Saturdays are the days when faith comes in and calms your heart. It's the time when you wait on God not knowing how long the wait will be. Saturday is the period between Friday's heartbreak and Sunday's unspeakable joy.
I've spent a lot of time in Saturdays. I've endured the pain of Friday not knowing how long it would be before Sunday would come. But there's a lesson in Saturday. Jesus Himself had a period of waiting. He didn't go straight from the humiliation and pain of the cross to the glory of His resurrection. For there was Saturday. The day creation would wait for her King to rise. The day when Satan felt he had defeated Christ as He lay there in that tomb. The day when His followers would find themselves engulfed in hopelessness. The day when God was silent as His Son slept. Saturday was necessary as part of the process.
We all have Saturdays in our lives. That time in the middle when we wait for God to take our pain and suffering and turn it into something for His glory. The time when it seems that God is silent or maybe even gone. Sometimes Saturdays last a really long time. Sometimes it seems like a Saturday will never end.
But soon enough Saturday becomes Sunday. Hope comes from despair. Beauty comes from brokenness. Love breaks free and unspeakable joy comes out of the very places where hopelessness once abounded. So if you are in a Saturday, hold on. Don't give up in the waiting. For the hurt on Friday will turn to hope on Sunday. The brokenness of Friday will birth beauty on Sunday. The pain of Friday will give you purpose on Sunday. So hold on through Saturday because Sunday is just around the corner.
I've often thought about her, the woman caught in adultery, brought by her accusers to stand before Jesus for judgment. The Scribes and Pharisees had nothing but malicious intentions. They knew that this woman was guilty of sin punishable by death according to the scripture. They purposefully brought her and placed her in the midst of those who knew her in order to publicly humiliate under the pretense of being servants of God. They brought her to stand guilty before the Perfect One.
I think about her standing there alone in her guilt. She never claimed to be innocent. She knew she had sinned. And here she stood humiliated and alone in front of her peers and her accusers. The fear that must have gripped her soul. Not only did she stand before these in her shame, but she had been brought to stand before the Son of God. Her accusers were quick to point out her wrongdoing. They even pointed out what the law said should happen next. I imagine them smiling as they stood there condemning her to punishment by death. I imagine the people in the crowd whispering about her and her sin. I see her with her tear stained face awaiting certain death.
But Jesus, He just stooped down and began to write in the dirt. I have often wondered what He was writing. Many assume that He was writing the Ten Commandments, but we don't really know. Maybe He was writing the names of those who stood there. Maybe He was listing the sins that many there had committed. Maybe it wasn't what He wrote at all, but the way He conducted Himself, ignoring their attempts to force Him to condemn her. Whatever it was, it made all the difference.
When they wouldn't give up in their pursuit to have her condemned, Jesus stood to His feet and stated that anyone there without sin should cast the first stone, and then He went back to writing in the dirt. I can see them now looking at the ground where His finger was writing in the dirt. I see them slowly one by one being convicted of their own sinful transgressions and walking away knowing themselves to be guilty as well.
And so after they had all gone away, this woman caught in the very act of adultery found herself alone with Jesus. He was the only one who stood without sin...the only one worthy to cast a stone. I see Him standing before her, asking who was remaining to accuse her and she said that they had all gone away. Then Jesus, the one who was worthy to cast judgment looked into her guilty eyes and spoke those beautiful words, "Neither do I condemn thee, go and sin no more."
Here was a woman who stood guilty of committing a sin. The crowd knew she was guilty. What they also knew was that they themselves stood guilty of sin as well, which led them to lay down their stones of judgment and self-righteousness and walk away. Jesus loved her in spite of her sin. She was why He came. He came for sinners. He came to shower us with unconditional redemptive love.
It was late at night when he sat crying at the foot of our bed telling us the news we never expected to hear. Although my heart was breaking and filled with disappointment, all I saw before me was my firstborn...my little blond haired boy...consumed in guilt and shame, feeling undeserving of my love and forgiveness, yet wanting so bad for me to love him enough to forgive...to lay down the stone that I could throw and instead wrap my arms around him in love. And so as he offered to gather his things and leave, it was my chance to forgive as I am so often forgiven.
My son sat at the foot of my bed and told me that his girlfriend was pregnant. I went over it in my head a million times...what could I have done differently? Didn't I teach him right from wrong? Should I have changed churches sooner? Maybe if he had had better Christian mentors? Should I have been more strict? Had he tried to reach out to me and I missed it? But while my head was going through the questions, my heart looked at the tear streaked face of this man who had made me a mom. My heart saw him for who he was...he was still that good kid that I had the honor of raising. He had never been in trouble. He had never drank alcohol, smoked a cigarette, or taken drugs. He never even got a speeding ticket. This man before me was the same kid who stayed with his grandparents when they were sick, who mows his grandmother's yard, who loves little kids and doesn't mind them crawling all over him. And I did the only thing I could do...I took him outside on the porch and we prayed. We prayed for forgiveness and for guidance. We held hands and thanked God for His amazing grace and forgiveness. We prayed for his girlfriend that she would find peace and have a healthy pregnancy. And we prayed for the precious baby that would one day bring us joy.
They have our blessing. our love, and our forgiveness. No, they didn't have to get married, they wanted to get married. It was the plan all along. They have made things right with God and with each other. I am learning to be a mother-in-law and how to love an adult son who is now the spiritual leader of his own household. Her parents are learning how to live with an empty nest while welcoming my son as their own. We are blessed. We are blessed to have two children who chose to be responsible and give life to a precious baby that they could have eliminated without anyone knowing. We are blessed to see two people who love each other make a commitment before God to live for Him and raise their baby in His house. We are blessed to await the arrival of a precious gift from God.
And while you're here, can I just say that I have seen him. I have had the honor to see this beautiful little life that is forming in a quiet hidden place. I have seen his little hand and his fingers. They are so perfect...ready to reach one day and grasp my finger in his little fingers. I have seen his little feet and his little toes, and one day I will kiss those precious little feet and marvel at how wonderfully made he is. I have seen his little heart beating...growing strong for days when he will run and laugh and play. I have seen him...and I have fallen absolutely in love with him. He is not a mistake. He is not an accident. He is a creation of the Creator being fearfully and wonderfully made in a hidden place. His name and form are known by the Most High. His days are all written in God's plan. And yes, God has a plan for this little one. I don't know what it is yet, and I may not live to ever know, but I do know that he is already bringing my heart unspeakable joy.
And so I ask you as you finish reading, to pause a moment and look at the stone you are holding in your hand, for I know how easy it is to rush to grab one. Just look at it before you are tempted to throw it. Take a minute and look at Jesus writing in the dirt. Could He have a message for you there as well? Could He be asking you to lay aside the stone, and instead to take an opportunity to show His grace, mercy, and love to two people who really are no different than you are? Could He be asking you to love them like He loves you? I hope so because I love those two (well, three) with all my heart...and so does God. I am so overwhelmed by His grace and mercy, and I am so thankful that He forgives. His grace really is amazing...and I am grateful for seeing that same grace in the eyes and actions of some of you. May He bless you richly for your love.
Once upon a time a fish named George came to live in a beautiful small pond in the country. George had been moved to this pond by the Great Fisherman and loved his life there. In no time at all, George had quickly made friends with the fish in the small pond. Not only was George a friendly outgoing fish, but he was also beautiful. Most of the fish living in the pond were small brown fish and had never seen a fish so amazing as George. George was a radiant orange color with scales that glistened when the sun reflected off them near the surface of the pond. All the fish in the pond wanted to be like George.
George spent his days sharing his knowledge and demonstrating his skills to the other fish. He told them the story of how he had been chosen by the Great Fisherman. The other fish swam in awe of his relationship with the Great Fisherman. They wanted so much to be more like George. Some of the fish found that if they rubbed themselves against the perimeter of the pond walls that they could get some of the burnt orange color of the mud on their scales. Over time some of the fish actually started to resemble George not only in actions, but also in color. Many happy days were spent swimming along with George in the pond.
Fred was a tiny brown fish who lived in the pond. Fred had lived there his whole life and knew nothing other than life in the small pond. Fred was liked by most of the fish in the pond even though to look at him, he was nothing special. Not only was Fred smaller than most of the fish, he also had a broken fin that made it hard for him to swim. Fred too admired George, but he knew that he could never fit in with him and the others. Sometimes Fred tried to join the other fish as they swam along with George, but he soon came to the realization that he could never fit in with his broken fin. Fred started spending his days swimming alone. He even came to realize that if he swam in the depths of the pond where the light of the sun didn't quite touch, he could blend in with the murky dark water and go unnoticed. Eventually the other fish forgot about Fred and he spent all of his time in the dark murky depths swimming with his broken fin.
One day the Great Fisherman came to the pond. Word quickly spread that the Great Fisherman had arrived. All the fish gathered near the pond's surface so that they could be seen. Every day the fish had learned more and more about what the Great Fisherman wanted from his fish. They knew how he wanted them to swim. They stretched their fins every day to make them stronger. They met often so that they could show each other their progress and encourage each other to continue to improve. The Great Fisherman truly was pleased with their desire to do as he had asked and to see how they had improved themselves individually and as a group.
After gazing into the pond for awhile, the Great Fisherman took a net and placed it gently in the water among the fish. All the fish were excited at the thought of being chosen by the Great Fisherman. All the fish waited in anticipation as the net hovered in the water. It appeared that the Great Fisherman was looking for a particular fish. Although disappointed at the thought that they were not the chosen one, the fish quickly came to realize that he must be there to get George. Who else would he choose? George quickly swam beside the net and waited to be caught up within its grasp as he had been before. The net did not move to catch him. George thought that the Great Fisherman must not have seen him, so he swam inside the net. Still the net didn't take him up from the water. George swam to the bottom of the net pushing on the net in order to make the Great Fisherman notice that he was in the net. Not only did the net not start to pick him up, the net actually turned to remove him from within it..
Slowly the net was lowered below the level of the fish. All the fish were confused. They did not understand the meaning of what was happening. The net was extended down into the deepest depths of the pond where Fred was hiding alone. The net gently closed in around Fred, and he began to be lifted toward the surface of the pond. Fred was sure that he was being removed from the pond because of his broken fin. Although he was hurt, he understood. The other fish assumed that this was indeed the reason for Fred being chosen and went on to swim as always.
The Great Fisherman talked to Fred in a loving voice as he carried him in a bucket along a path. Fred could see his reflection in the bucket's walls, Fred saw his plain brown body. He saw how small he truly was. But more than anything, Fred saw his broken fin. It had been mangled in the storms that had hit the pond. Part of his fin was missing. Some of the fin that remained had thin places and holes where Fred had been beaten against the rocks. No wonder the Great Fisherman didn't want him in the pond with the others.
The Great Fisherman stopped by a large lake. He sat down on a log and held the bucket containing Fred in his hands. Fred could see his face and his loving smile. Fred was no different than the other fish. He too desired more than anything to please the Great Fisherman, but he just didn't know how he could. He was just a small plain brown fish with a broken mangled fin. Fred listened as the Great Fisherman told him about the place where he had brought him to live. The vastness of this big pond frightened Fred. Fred only knew life in a little pond. How would he survive here? Would anyone even notice he was there? The Great Fisherman said something about trusting him and that Fred only needed to be himself, and then Fred was dumped into the depths of the biggest pond he had ever seen.
Fred's first inclination was to head for the safety of the darkness, but he was quickly met by two other fish. Fred waited for the fish to say something about his fin, but they didn't. They took Fred on a tour of the pond. As they swam, Fred saw more fish than he ever imagined existing. There were fish of all colors and sizes. He saw fish with rainbows on their sides. He saw fish with blue gills, long whiskers, and shiny scales. He even saw fish that were orange just like George. So many fish swimming in the waters of the pond. Fred began to notice that some of the fish had broken fins just like him. He noticed that some fish had scales that were missing. A few fish still had pieces of metal in them where they had been able to escape a hook. Some fish were even missing an eye. Fred quickly learned that he had grown accustomed to life in the little pond without much thought of life outside the pond. Fred only knew what he saw every day. He had never given any thought to those outside his pond.
Fred quickly made friends with the fish in the pond, but he formed special bonds with the fish who were broken like him. The fish who were missing scales, had injured fins, or who had narrowly escaped the hook, all were fascinated by Fred's stories of the Great Fisherman. They never realized that the Great Fisherman was interested in them too. They only thought he wanted fish like George who radiated beauty to those around him. They were hopeful hearing how the Great Fisherman had made such efforts to go to the depths of the pond to search for Fred. They were encouraged to hear that they too were special in the eyes of the Great Fisherman.
The injured fish in the big pond were changed forever because a little plain brown fish with a mangled broken fin told his story. And a little fish named Fred came to realize that sometimes being a little fish in a big pond can make a lot of difference...especially when the Great Fisherman places you there. Turns out that the Great Fisherman can use a tiny broken mangled fish to radically change a big pond.