It is holy week. Holy - set apart for God. For years I have wanted to call out this week among all the other 52. I longed for my family to do something meaningful. I pushed it. I planned and executed plans. I was going to singlehandedly bring about holy week. I was going to milk it for all it was worth and lift our eyes upwards.
Holiness is not something you force. It must be allowed to enter in due time. Holiness comes from God, not well-meaning people mustering up spiritual activity. My husband, amazing and sweet, was not ready to do structured activities. Surely my pressure made him more reluctant, though I didn't see it at the time.
One year we attended a Passover Supper with some friends at their home. We washed one another's feet and shared our hearts. The husband had fashioned a cross to which we cermoniously nailed our sins. I longed for this to be my home. I wanted my husband to be the one leading these meaningful celebrations. I didn't covet my friend's fortune, I just wanted mine too. God overlooked my desire and seemed to ignore the prayers I uttered.
I had forgotten that plants grow at the root before leaves and fruit appear. Much is always going on under the surface before God moves before our very eyes. He does not sleep and slumber.
We feel the occasional forsaken rumblings in our own hearts. Did He forget me? Am I asking too much? Early in my life I had been abandoned and hurt by those who needed to stand strong on my behalf. I had felt the sting of rejection by those who mattered most.
And Jesus has chosen to feel it too.
I wondered at times if God would ever fulfill the deepest longings of my adult life in Him. On the day He was crucified, his disciples lost hope. They caved in to fears and let what they saw on the surface overwhelm them. Everything they had hoped in and sacrificed for was gone. Riddled with grief, they lost sight of what they had known about God. They, who had walked in His midst, had supper with Him, traveled with Him, watched His miracles first-hand and even had Him wash their feet, lost hope.
I have felt this abandonment and looked at the spot where Good News was rising, misunderstanding it for abandonment one more time. I have thought, like Mary, that Jesus was capable of being like every other person who had let me down, hurt me deeply or failed to keep their promises. I have been beset by spiritual amnesia.
In my longings I feel that same forgetfulness at times. I wanted a spiritual leader and yet I was trying to lead him into the role. In order to be led, you have to back off and follow. I had to give space and allow leading to happen. Followers don't direct, they buckle up and trust the journey.
So this year, I took a gamble, and I looked around for some simple traditions. I did most of the prep, but I asked him to engage. It isn't that he doesn't want to do this. He has yearnings too. And God is at work beneath the surface bringing holiness into hollow spaces. My husband wanted to honor and lead. He needed the gentle opening and a helpmate.
On Monday we shared Three Bowls and A Crown. We introduced the boys to a tangible way to confess their sins as we demonstrated through our own confessions. Four sinners saved by grace, gathered at a supper table poking toothpicks into a grapevine wreath to declare the goodness of our merciful God. Jesus already chose to bear these sins and He already forgives us right into freedom and release.
On Tuesday we held a Passover Supper and we shared ritual with four cups and prayers of rememberance and thanksgiving. We ate foods with symbolism. Haroseth, Matzoah, Bitter Herbs, Egg all pointing to the faithfulness of God towards His chosen. And he led us in a feast of sincere worship. My husband, humbly blessing us with his heart for God.
And tomorrow we will wash one another's feet and watch the Jesus Movie as we join together to remember our Lord Who stoops to bless and demonstrates His love as sacrifice and humility.
I look over this week in awe of God. He always gives more than we can ask or imagine. How can He not? He gave Himself and that is more than we can measure. He gives us new life. He calls us His own. He chooses to live in us - the greatest mystery of all!
If you have the longing in your heart for a week like this, know that roots are being established in this very season. And where there are roots, planted in good soil, there will be a harvest which will surpass what you thought your storehouse could contain.
This is Easter. The holiest of weeks. The Cross is the gateway and the promise is that we are His and He will not leave us nor forsake us. He did this for us and if He did the greater, He surely will do the lesser in due time.