The reflections of this week are always spiritually heavy for me. Spring comes and life is anew.
All at the cost of a man's very life. A Savior. It's daunting to actually sit in it, think on it.
In the past several years I have found myself being able to relate to Jesus' mother and all that she must have endured in this week before her child's death. For days before the actual celebration of Easter I have found myself physically ill over the suffering of Jesus' mother and the people who loved Him most. This year, I was given even more insight and my heart was stretched further than ever before.
Today is Tuesday.
This would have been the day when arrangements were made to betray Jesus. I think on it and it takes hold and violently shakes me. The man-God-Father-King: to be betrayed.
Ann Voskamp wrote so much truth this morning when she said,
"Turns out that unless we make time to honestly pray, our priorities betray Jesus.Unless we choose to radically trust, our fears betray Jesus.
Unless we commit to quiet communion, our distractions betray Jesus...
Unless we keep our hand in Jesus' hand, we hand Jesus over too -- unless we give everything to Jesus, we give up Jesus too."
So here we are, preparing to celebrate the resurrection of a Savior, the One who brings all hope through the act of rising. Because He did not stay in the grave, we celebrate life eternal. But the truth is, the days leading up to His death must have been excruciating. The anticipation of what was to come had to be agonizing. In fact, scripture tells us that they were. For others around Jesus, but inside of His own spirit.
I just can't imagine.
This man, this God-human and friend to many, was aware that he was actively being betrayed. Sure, Judas would betray him in a single act but others betrayed Jesus as well. Maybe not as blatantly, but looking back, though he never spoke it, how could he not have felt it?
He asked Peter, James, and John to go with Him while He prayed. He was filled with horror and deep distress and even said to them, "My soul is crushed to the point of death. Stay here and watch with Me."
Jesus walked a little farther to pray alone and ask God to please let Him not have to endure what was to come. I believe, having prayed the same prayer myself, that He knew it wouldn't change the outcome. Jesus knew what would ultimately have to happen to fulfill the will of God. But I believe out of faith, in speaking to His Father, Jesus simply needed to say the words.
When he returned to where his friends were, just a little further behind him, all three of them were sleeping. Jesus asks them, "Are you asleep? Couldn't you stay awake and watch with me even one hour?"
Couldn't they have? I mean that's really all He asked of them.
This year, this is the part of the story that changes everything for me.
My own child died and for hours and hours and hours I had so many people surrounding the two of us as we sat and waited patiently together for the Lord to come. There we were, she and I on a little brown couch, shallow breathing and holding our own breath for what seemed like an eternity. Her limp body fell over mine and she rested comfortably as it steadily continued to fail her. No one knew how long this could go on, but in reality, it could have been this way for days.
In that room not a single person closed their eyes until I told them that it was ok to do so. And they would not have. They were faithfully keeping watch with me for the Lord to come. Because their eyes never looked away from me, I felt safe enough to never look away from her.
They kept watch.
"We should sleep. Everyone should rest now. Let's lay down and try to sleep."
I moved to my back, laid across that little brown couch so that my face was toward the sky and I situated Mabel's body so that hers was the same. Face up, my chin to her forehead, we didn't move for hours. And we slept. At one point, I gazed around the room and saw everyone else doing the same. The bodies of the people who love us most packed tightly into one single room, awaiting the Lord, but finally resting in the assurance that whether awake or asleep, He was coming soon.
After Jesus told his friends to wake the first time He reminded them that they must keep alert and pray. He left again to do so, pleading with God to not let him have to endure what was next. When he returned to where his friends were for the third time, scripture tells us that they just couldn't keep their eyes open and they didn't know what to say to Jesus. He said to them, "Still sleeping? Still resting? Enough! I, the Son of Man, am betrayed into the hands of sinners. Up! Let's be going."
Jesus, though God, was a human and he carried these people. He was about to endure excruciating, unexplainable death but they couldn't keep their eyes open to simply keep watch and pray?
It's appalling to me now. How hard that one task must have been for them.
Though I say everyone was sleeping in the hours leading up to Mabel's death, that's not entirely true. Everyone did sleep at one time or another but there were enough of us that if my memory is correct, there wasn't a time through the night when at least someone was awake. It seemed as if the spirit's of my sweet friends and family ebbed and flowed for one another, sleeping and waking in a rhythm that allowed me to not have to wake and worry at all.
Keeping watch for the Lord, for me.
Their vantage point had to be horrific, much like the view of Jesus' friends.
Here they were in different areas of her room, the room where she slept and cried and laughed and breathed and lived, knowing that it would also be the room where she would die. Their anticipation and heartache was palpable yet courageous. When my eyes met any one set of their eyes, I felt safe.
Unlike Jesus, I did not have to lead my troops into the battle. And for that, I feel deep empathy for Him. In His actual last moments on this earth, Jesus still had to be the commander of His people, people who were supposed to be His friends. People who could have rose up for Him. I feel like He never quite had a soft place to fall. That makes my heart literally ache and bleed for the heart of my Savior. It makes me overwhelmingly sad.
But, I also can't fully understand it.
That kind of anticipation and uncertainty also had to be so physically exhausting for everyone involved. How did they truly know this was going to take place? They trusted their friend, but in a sense, there had to be a strong form of denial that these would truly be their last moments with him. How could they know for sure? The story itself just proves to my heart, though, how as humans we just sometimes fall short. It's in our nature. We are imperfect.
I just find myself wishing that Jesus would have had it differently in those moment. The loneliest and scariest moments of his entire life could have maybe felt less lonely or less scary and yet we are told-they did not.
At 5:23 am, after sleeping with my babe on my chest for 4 very restful hours, I felt her take her final breath and this time I was certain of it. My spirit felt hers meet Jesus.
My eyes opened to meet the eyes of my truest friend and then one by one, without a word being spoken, each of the others opened their eyes as well. No one said a word. There was just a sweet, gentle, sacred knowing. Her da walked in the room, his eyes meeting mine and he knew as well. He leaned down over me to kiss her gently and to be honest, I closed my eyes and while holding her, fell quickly back to sleep, knowing that my people were awake once again and would keep close watch,
I am so lucky. I have always had people who have done this for me.
Faithful, loyal, trustworthy, courageous, powerful friends and the greatest family, who would keep watch and pray over me, and for me, especially when I maybe couldn't for myself. This has been my lifeline. They have seen me through and continue to do so, even now.
I am no Jesus.
But I have certainly been betrayed and have absolutely been the betrayer at different times in life. We all have, without a doubt. The days leading up to and the days following Mabel's death were no different. I was betrayed in very hurtful, purposeful ways and we were betrayed in ways that maybe weren't so intentional. Either way, it is one of the most painful emotions that a human can walk through and that kind of suffering is the kind that has me pained and groaning for my Lord today.
This Tuesday, the day the betrayal was arranged...
My heart is simultaneously broken for and thankful for Jesus.
What a God. What a man. What a friend.
How lucky I am to know Him...