Clouds hang heavy in the sky, and air is hushed.
Rain from the last several days and nights has left the yard saturated, and puddles in the driveway reflect the grey sky. There is an air of subdued expectancy, of waiting with baited breath.
My heart feels the pause, and hesitates too.
Today depicts perfectly the last two years.
The unimaginable horror when the blissful honeymooning couple stumbled across burglars looting their home. His care in dropping off his pregnant young wife at our house, with a promise to be right back. And then the crack of the bullets breaking the silence. And he wouldn’t answer his phone.
Her terror multiplied, her prayers prayed in jerky, desperate breaths as she ran across the field toward where the sounds came from, then hid behind a hay bale lest the robbers shoot at her too. The hours of waiting as Marcus’ car was finally located in the woods,
yet she wasn’t allowed to go to him.
We sat in that horrid waiting room at the hospital, things looking as dark as the night time darkness that enshrouded the world, and our hearts. We prayed and wept.
Oh God, HOW could this have happened to such a sweet, happy couple who loved you with all their hearts?
Monitors beeped and pressures fluctuated, making our hopes rise and crash back down with them. We whispered in the waiting room, brought in food, kept the praying world up to date, and believed that God meant what he said when he said “Ask in faith.”
He had a calling on his life.
We knew it, we saw it, we felt it as we worked with him in prison ministry and in youth activities.
How could it all be over, before it had even really started?
That burning passion in his heart that he talked about, what was it about if his life was over?
We pounded heaven in faith, in tears, in questions and in brokenness.
We longed to see him meet his son, that grew and kicked in his mother’s safe womb. She smiled, she prayed, she trusted, but she was numb.
We all were.
God set the stage for something amazing.
And just like today, the world sat watching, waiting, holding our breath to see what God would do. And just like the disciples wept and followed as Jesus’ battered and unrecognizable body was taken off the cross and wrapped in linen, we were speechless as they took him off life support and his strong heart beat for just a few more moments.
And then stopped.
I know people die. I know even young people die.
But when there has been this much brooding – this much groaning in heaven – to drop it all and bury the promises? I can only imagine the betrayal the eleven felt as the stone wedged over the mouth of the grave, obscuring the one they knew brought life, now held by death.
All the teaching, all the hope, all the promises; what now?
I feel the subdued weight crushing their hearts, crushing mine.
The sound of dirt hitting the coffin,
the wail of his new born son,
the agony of the day his wife and child moved away.
God, how can this story be over?
We are caught in the three days before Jesus rose,
the pain of death shrouding our eyes,
the coldness of that stone is all we feel when we reach for our loved one. The chill creeps up our arms and threatens to turn our hearts cold and cynical of all that burned so passionately just days ago.
Like Mary Magdalene, we run stumbling toward to tomb, our hearts and lives shattered, everything smudged by salty tears.
But our vision is blurred by mortality, and just across the line of life and death everything clears. God listens as satan whines about how protected, how biased God has been toward Job.
God looks long and hard, and finally says,
“You can touch all he has,” and even eventually “his body,”
in this trial of Job’s life.
And Job sits in the pile of rubble, his children dead, his riches gone, his life shattered. Even his wife spits in the face of his faith and tells him to turn his back on God, who obviously has done him no good now.
This place of waiting, of silence, before redemption happens, is a long one.
We see it, we turn the pages, and we pause.
What conversation is happening in heaven over Marco, over Maryann, over your heart, and mine?
There are answers we crave, and yet, in the stepping back, in the shifting our eyes to God instead of our own need for understanding, we stumble across something big.
It is the fact that our lives rest in God’s hand.
And He is writing a story much bigger than the one we thought he was weaving. We gasp as the light breaks just a touch. We catch a fleeting glimpse of Marco, more alive than ever before.
We silence the questions burning on our lips, and we choose to agree with God. We submit our limited understanding to the Master Creator of all, and we find there,
in resting and trusting, we are carried.
We are held.
We are safe.