It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way

It’s not supposed to be this way.

Have you felt, thought or said this lately? The stories in our newsfeeds, the images flashed onto our screen. The uncertainty of the pandemic. Perhaps, it’s something completely unrelated to the virus. Maybe it’s a situation. The death of a loved one, an unexpected diagnosis, loss of a job, or disappointment over a very important, canceled event.

On Saturday of Holy Week, I often think about the despair and disappointment that must have both confused and burdened the disciples. The week had started out in a glorious high. Jesus, the Messiah, journeyed through the city among cheers from crowd-lined streets. The people were sure that he would deliver them from the oppressive Roman Empire, and be their earthly king. Can you imagine the excitement and happiness the disciples must of felt?

The following days were full of even more “highs.” From cleansing the temple in a dramatic way, to infuriating and shocking the religious leaders with His teachings. Jesus spent quality time in private conversations with his disciples, giving them quizzical things to ponder. The special time was something I am sure the disciples thought important and treasured.

At the Last Supper might have been the first hint that things were changing. When Jesus washed his disciples feet, his disciple Peter thought, “It isn’t supposed to be this way.”

After the supper, in the garden, Jesus and his disciples were questioned by a mob of soldiers and officials organized by one of his own disciples. Jesus answered all their questions, and even stopped Peter from defending him. Jesus was arrested and bound. I’m sure Peter thought, “it isn’t supposed to be this way.”

The next day, Jesus was brought before a governor who could find no fault or guilt. The very same crowd of Jews who were cheering on Sunday, were jeering on Friday. A thief was set free, and a Jesus was flogged, a crowned with a crown of thorns. Instead of raising Hosannas, they were crying out “Crucify him, crucify him.” It wasn’t suppose to be this way…

Then as if things couldn’t get worse, Jesus, Messiah, leader, teacher, and friend, was crucified a horrible, painful death, among a mocking and hateful crowd. Some of his loved ones and disciples stood by and watched. It wasn’t suppose to be this way…

In the gospel of John, chapter 12, verse 16, it says, “His disciples did not understand these things at first, but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things had been written about him, and had been done to him.”

It’s this part of the story, the pause between the tomb and the resurrection, where I am sure a lot of time was spent trying to remember the things Jesus said, trying to figure out where things went wrong, where things went right, what things meant. I wouldn’t be surprised if his loved ones and disciples even thought, “it’s not supposed to be this way.”

You may be in a situation right now and thinking “it isn’t suppose to be this way.” More times than not, we don’t understand why difficult things happen. Sometimes time gives us perspective, and sometimes we may never know the reason. Either way, it is hard, painful, discouraging and disappointing while we navigate and grieve through it.

When these times happen, and they will happen to all of us, may I suggest we take an example from this part of the gospel story and pause. Pause like the pause in the story. A silent and somber pause. A reflective and remembering pause.

We, pause, and then wait and see.

Because…

Out of the pause, is where unexpected things happen.

It’s where God’s glorious power can and will break through.

It’s where impossible things become possible.

A pause leads way to “plans and places that are supposed to be.” It can bring us to the foot of the cross, make us revisit an empty tomb, and help us hold on tightly to our Resurrected Savior and Friend’s hand.

I believe Jesus can and will see us through all the things we thought isn’t/wasn’t supposed to be. But we have to allow him to meet us right where we are. Meet us as the imperfect, sometimes confused, disappointed, healing-needing people that we are. As we learn to walk with him, to trust in his ways, he will give us strength to take the next step forward, and we might even get a glimpse of the future to come.

The disciples did not have to wait long to have their questions answered, and a glorious reunion was about to take place. Tonight, let us pause, and then look forward to tomorrow with an anticipation of great things to come, as we celebrate the way things were suppose to be!


A Small Role in the Greatest Story

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Kings entered towns with proclamations and grand processions of their riches, power, and splendor. Yet, Jesus, the King of Kings, chose a donkey for his entry. A young, humble donkey, never ridden before, specifically chosen by Jesus (Mark 11:3). A donkey born for a purpose- to work and serve a master. What an honor and task this young donkey was given, to carry the King, through a crowd of joyful people waving palm branches and praising the Messiah, who had come to rescue them from the oppressive society in which they lived.

Jesus journeyed through Jerusalem to celebrate, to proclaim peace and love, to serve, and save the lost. He came to give his life for those cheering, sinful spectators, and to pay the penalty of our sins too. In doing so, he may a way for us to be restored in right relationship with our Heavenly Father. His sacrifice offers us forgiveness and freedom in trusting in Him.

The donkey had a small, specific role in the grand love story of Christ. And we have roles in His story too. As followers of Christ, we are born with purpose. Chosen specifically by Jesus to serve in His name. We are carriers of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and we are to deliver His message of hope and love through our words and actions.

Yet, some of us are still tied to the post outside the door (Mark 11:4). Tied up by our fears, insecurities, doubts, and exhaustion. Tied with things holding us back from fully living, freely serving, and fervently loving.

Let this be a reminder, you have been chosen.

You have been chosen to be the mother or father of your children. You have been chosen to be a friend to another. You have been chosen to be in the right place, at the right time. You have been chosen to lead and love well. You have been chosen to feed and clothe the hungry. You have been chosen as an ambassador of peace and proclaimer of love. You have what it takes because He chose you and He believes in you!

This Passion Week, I am praying we rediscover the passion and purpose of our callings in our lives. I’m praying we refocus our gaze on Jesus, seek Him out, ask Him for help in all circumstances and free us from the things that keep us bound. On Sunday morning, I pray we will praise Him as a large crowd of  people who are no longer spectators but participants. Who truly, deeply know what it means to be forgiven and loved. And I pray we will embrace our roles with fullness of joy and peace of heart knowing we have a role in His story.

You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. John 15:16

Consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. 1 Corinthians 1:26–29.

10 Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. 11 If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen. 1 Peter 4:10-11