Friday, April 06, 2012

In Between Time

How many times in your life have you lived with a sense that ‘something is changing’?  You might sense a subtle change in a spouse’s behavior, a friend is less available, or you might find yourself further out of the loop in the workplace.  Something is happening.  You’re sure of it but if asked for proof you don’t quite have anything concrete.  It’s just a feeling, a sense of something that’s out of the ordinary.  Your antenna goes up.  If you do confide in someone they might think you’re trying to borrow trouble but deep inside there is a gnawing unrest that can’t be explained away. There’s enough evidence to satisfy your gut feeling but not enough to persuade anyone else.

It’s a time when ‘what was’ starts to slowly morph into ‘what’s next’.  But it’s a troubling time. It’s what I call ‘in between time’.  It can be simply awful when fears take over, strangling any attempt at forward motion.  Or it can be a time when someone can stare their fears in the face thwarting whatever force is trying to take them down.

Things change.  All the time. 

I’m writing this on Good Friday.  If we were in Jerusalem on this day way back when we’d certainly see and smell change in the air. What we knew was ending.  Some else was brewing.  Jesus goes into the tomb.  And ‘in between’ time begins.  “What’s next” had to be the primary thought going through the mind of anyone close to Jesus.  Was it all over? Had we just wasted three years of our life?  Death is pretty final. The Romans and the Jewish leaders appear to have the upper hand.  Now what?  Am I next? Where can I hide?

Who knows what happened in the ‘in between time’ starting late Friday afternoon and ending on what we now knows as Easter morning?  How many tears were shed and how many fingers were pointed?  How much faith was left? 

It’s one of the great unknowns of scripture.  My guess is that fear was present. There was a great cloud of unknowing hovering.  Some may have shown false bravado and others might have acted as if they had been crucified and buried, not Jesus. We don’t know.  All we do know is that anyone close to Jesus had to live in and through this ‘in between time’ where ‘what was’ no longer exists and ‘what’s next’ has not yet been completely revealed.

I’m thinking about this a lot lately.  I see lots of people going through an ‘in between time’.  Most struggle mightily with it.

As we look at Scripture the time between the death and resurrection of Jesus doesn’t have a whole lot written about it.  We don’t know what was going on in the hearts and minds of those who loved Jesus the most.

Here’s what we do know. After Jesus died some took it upon themselves to take the next best step.  They asked for the body and did what they could before Sabbath to do a burial.  There wasn’t time to do it completely right but they did what they could.  This was a courageous step by the way.  They had to overcome fear in order to do what was right. 

Those who didn’t bury Jesus seemed to have gathered together in accordance with Sabbath customs.  They relied on religious and cultural habit to order their time.  Sometimes in the ordinary practice of what we know is true and good we can find ways to live in the ‘in between time’.

When Sabbath was over, the women went to finish the task of preparing the body.  They put their life into motion, doing the right thing as prescribed by their faith.

So in the ‘in between time’ between death and resurrection we see some courageous action and reliance on religious habit even in the face of doubt and pain. Faith and Action. Action and Faith.

What do we do when we face the ‘in between times’ of life?  We do the next right thing, in the right way, with the right attitude.  And we fall back into the faith habits of our life hoping that in the familiar things God will speak to us. We put our life into motion and rely on what we know is true, and good and noble to guide us.