He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay.
“He’s coming! He’s coming!” These words still echo in my mind years after I first heard them spoken by a precious little girl. At the time we were watching Homeward Bound, the movie about the adventures of two dogs and a cat as they traverse the wilderness to get back home to their family. Near the end of the movie, the oldest dog falls into a pit. As the scene then switches to the family playing in their back yard, the audience is left in uncertainty regarding the faithful old dog’s ability to make it those final miles home.
Yet suddenly the family and the audience hear something: barking. The hearts of both the movie family and audience rejoice as one dog comes over the hill, and then the cat follows. But then… then… nothing. As quickly as our hearts soar with relief they plummet to despair. Where was that old faithful dog? What happened?! Could it really be that after such a long, hard journey, he died before making it home? Did he die alone in that pit?
It was during this moment of grief, of hopes seemingly shattered, that the words “He’s coming!” could be heard from the mouth of the little girl sitting next to me. “He’s coming!” she kept repeating excitedly. “He’s coming!”
You see, the little girl next to me had seen the movie before, so she knew the ending. She knew that after the pause–during that silence–as the young dog owner in the movie and the audience held their breath, as time appeared to be standing still at the thought that maybe, just maybe what they had hoped and believed was going to happen, would not actually happen–she knew that old dog would come limping over the hill and be welcomed home. She knew he was coming. She wasn’t grieving; she was anticipating. For she knew the one the family and audience thought was dead was indeed alive. The silence and pause that caused the audience to grieve and wonder “Could it be we were wrong?” was only the time needed for the dog to make it up that final hill. The dog never stopped moving; he continued to come. Even when our physical eyes couldn’t see his movements, he was coming. He was coming!
And it is the words of the little girl that have echoed in my heart in recent weeks as God reminds me in the silence He is there. In the silence, He is working.
Reflect back to Easter–the time of year we celebrate the resurrection of our Lord and Savior. Thursday of that week we remember the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus’ agonizing prayer, and the arrest. Friday we reflect upon His death, upon the Son of God’s sacrifice for our sins. Sunday we rejoice together that Jesus is alive. In fact, we encourage everyone to continue rejoicing in His resurrection every day of the year.
Yet what about Saturday, the day between the death and the resurrection? What about the stillness of that day? Take a moment and return with me to that day…the day of waiting…the day of wondering…the day of weeping…the span of time between the death and the resurrection…between the shock of shattered dreams and the realization of new beginnings. Imagine what the disciples were thinking? Were they wondering what happened to the One they thought was the King? Wondering if they were wrong in believing Jesus was the One foretold in Scripture? Wondering how it could be that they were on one side of the tomb and the One they thought would save them was on the other?
Could it be they were wrong?
No. They were not wrong–just a bit mistaken. For regardless of the number of times Jesus warned them He’d be put to death and be buried before rising again, they misunderstood His message…and His timing.
What the disciples did not fully realize was that in the silence of that Saturday, God was moving. He wasn’t just moving, He was battling on their–and on our–behalf. For we must remember that we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, “but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12).
Jesus didn’t just have to die for our sins; he had to defeat death. It wasn’t solely his death that saved us; it was His resurrection from the dead. In 1 Corinthians 15:16-19, Paul reminds us all, “For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.
This means the apparent silence between the death and resurrection was actually the time it took to win the war. In the stillness of that Saturday, God was moving!
And on Sunday, He came!
So I ask you, are you in the silence of that Saturday today? Are you wondering if those desires in your heart will actually come to pass? Are you questioning if you really heard from God about the direction you are going? Are your circumstances screaming, “Forget it! It’s over!”? Well, let me encourage you, it’s not over! He is coming! God has not abandoned you. God has not abandoned your dreams. He will never to leave you nor forsake you.
Do not grieve, my friend; anticipate. Be still knowing He is God. The silence of today is merely the time needed for heaven’s will to become tomorrow’s reality. The silence of this moment is not the end; it is the beginning. So keep on keeping on, my friend! He is coming!