Saturday, March 30, 2013

The Second Day

Tomorrow is Easter Sunday. I love Easter. It’s not just the candy, but yeah that’s a big part of it. I just love the message. I love the joy and hope it gives me. I love celebrating that Jesus is alive. I don’t know what it is but it seems most Easter Sundays I find myself with watery eyes on my drive to church.

The resurrection of Christ is wonderful to think about, but today I’ve been thinking about what it must have been like for the disciples and the other followers on the night before Jesus rose from the grave. When we tell the story we tend to fast forward to the third day. You know—the grand finale. God wins. The devil loses. Everything changes for the good.

I’ve just been wondering about the second day. What must have been going through their heads? The man they put all their hope in as the King of Kings turned out to be just a normal man, susceptible to death. The true Son of God can’t die, right?

They gave up everything to follow him.
They bet everything they had on him.

To say they were probably feeling hopeless barely hits it. Overwhelmingly devastated I would imagine. Depressed. Angry. Confused. I’d say you could throw any amount of words like that into the skillet.

Jesus had told them before that he would die and would rise but it didn’t make sense at the time. Looking back they probably felt kind of stupid, but when you watch your presumed Messiah whipped, beaten, and crucified you probably start to doubt most of the things you had once believed.

I can’t say I’ve ever seen anything like what they saw. I’ve never even seen my pastor punched in the face. I can’t connect to the disciples to that extent, but I do know what it is like to be in day two out of three. I know what it’s like to question everything and to be angry and depressed all at the same time.

The second is not the fun day to be a Christian, especially when you don’t even know about the third day yet. When you’re in the midst of it, day two isn’t the middle, it’s the end. Everything you put your hope in seems to not be working out for you. The faith you did have seems pointless in a lot of ways, and you kind of feel like you got duped.

Jesus could have died and come back to life on the second day. I mean, he could have died and come back to life right on the spot. But he didn’t. He waited. I can’t get into biblical numbers and the significance of the number “three” because I’m not smart enough. I just believe that there is a great purpose to the second day. And to all of our second days.

If I can be completely honest, there are aspects about God that I don’t like sometimes. I don’t like the fact he created us and that we still have to struggle with sin. I don’t like that he lets me embarrass myself (a lot). I don’t like that patience and trust are abilities you have to learn. And I don’t like that God tests us. (Proverbs 3:11-12)

I don’t like sitting through the second day. Even when I know there is a third day coming because I can feel it or the Lord has told me so; it doesn’t always make the second day any easier. It seems like too much of our lives are in the second day.

I can’t give you all the reasons why, and I can’t even give myself them, but I think when we are in the second day it is because we are being tested.

I know, I hate it, too, but that’s just the way it is.

I don’t think God does it to us because he delights in watching us squirm or cry. Sometimes I think that’s why he does it, but then that’s when what I feel has to be overcome by what I believe.

When the disciples were going through the second day, they didn’t have Jesus giving them the answers anymore. They didn’t have miracles in front of them. They didn’t have the God of the universe in the flesh putting people in their place. They only had their faith.

We may have times where everything we put our faith in seems to be dead in the ground. We may have times where there are absolutely no answers. And we may have times where what we believed now sounds completely ridiculous. We will all have second days.

Hebrews 11:1 says that “faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” If you asked me to give you my version of that verse, it might sound something like this: “Faith is like jumping off of a cliff because you thought it was a good idea at the time, and now you’re just falling and really scared.”

Faith doesn’t deal a lot in the realm of proof. It’s one of the reasons a lot of really smart people have a hard time believing in God. There’s not a lot of proof that comes with it. Sure I can believe it, but the reason I can believe it is because I believe it. (What? Yeah. Exactly.) Faith is the substance of something you’re hoping is true, and it is revealed by something else you can’t see.

Jesus never said all of this faith stuff was easy, but he did say it was possible. When we find ourselves in a second day, it could be because God is trying to strip away all the proof and test what we really claim to believe. To see if maybe we’re just crazy enough of people stick it out and hold on to what we believe.

2 Corinthians 5:7
“For we walk by faith, not by sight.”

We all know that verse. The second day is what tests us to see if we don’t just know it but that we that also can live it out.

Like I said, I don’t enjoy this. Nobody really enjoys practice. (Definitely not Allen Iverson.) But I think after all the tears and the screaming and the rage, we have to say to ourselves, “Either I believe all of this or I don’t.”

I don’t think you can part-believe in this Gospel and make it through. We can’t quote verses that say, “If God is for us, who can be against us?” and then live like God is only for us sometimes. He is either for us completely, or he is against us completely. It simply cannot be a little of both.

Maybe you’re in your second day right now. Maybe you’re being tested in ways you never have before. Let me just remind you that you are not alone.

My mother told me these words one time when I was going through one of the hardest situations of my life, “You’re not the first person to go through this, and you won’t be the last. Others have made it through and so will you.”

You’re not alone. God doesn’t hate you. And God knows more about the third day than you do. He’s been planning it all along. He’s already at the third day waiting for you.

When you’re in your second day, remember the third day. Remember that joy comes in the morning. Remember the hope you knew when things were easier. Remember the songs and the verses that came alive in your soul. Remember the times before when you were in the dark and how they became the times that led you to the light. Remember that the end of the story will always be that Jesus wins.

Either he does or he doesn’t. There’s no possibility for both.

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