Monday, August 5, 2013

Sabbath in the Midst of Agony

"Then they went home and prepared spices and perfumes. But they rested on the Sabbath in obedience to the commandment."  Luke 23:56 NIV

The leader you have been following for many months  has died a cruel death on a cross.  In your disbelief and shock of what has just happened, perhaps you begin to recall snippets of words he spoke seemingly trying to let you know that this was part of the plan.  Or perhaps you are so overwhelmed by the agony of the day and sleepless hours you have spent following closely to the anguish all around, you have no more capability to think, to ponder.  Overwhelmed with grief and loss, the tears may not even come or they may pour out in abundance, your head covering, your robe splattered with droplets of salt-filled tears.  Agony.  Sorrow.  Loss.  The women at the foot of the cross knew these all too well, but in the midst of their inner-anguish, they clung to Hope, they clung to obedience.  They knew that practically, their first gift to the body of Jesus would be to anoint his body with spices and perfumes, to prepare him for burial as custom required, but they also knew that dusk was on the horizon and there would be no time to prepare the body before the Sabbath.  They would wait for the Sabbath.  They would be obedient and rest on the Sabbath.  Then, they would prepare the body.

In this Scripture that is part of a story I have heard so many times, the obedience stood out.  They made use of the time they had, but they didn't over do it.  In the midst of sadness and grief we may feel the need to keep the wheels spinning, to keep talking about what has happened, to work on a solution to the situation, but the mindless, fretful, "busyness" was not required.  They chose to embrace the commandment for Sabbath rest.  I cannot believe that it was a coincidence that the Sabbath occurred when it did right after Christ's suffering and agony.  For in the agony, in the pain, in the loss we need Sabbath more than ever.  The pursuit of continual communion with God restores our souls and brings us back to our only source of hope.  For these women, obedience to God was like breathing and after a day of rest, they discovered the truth that we as modern-day believers already know, joy comes in the morning.

Blessings for the journey.

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