Solon Center Wesleyan Church
15671 Algoma, Cedar Springs
(just north of 19 Mile)
As I sit writing this article (which is late), I am wearing my Michigan State sweats and State Gymnastics t-shirt. I love March Madness, especially when my Spartans are playing as well as they are this year. But I don’t like madness in my life. I’m what you might describe as a control freak. I prefer to over-achieve, and I don’t like to fail.
I really don’t like to miss deadlines, and I stress out about letting other people down. Why is this article late? The first reason is the busyness of the Easter season. Throw in an auction for En Gedi on Friday, two weddings on Saturday, and my life is crazy busy. The second is an unforeseen tragedy.
The first is a matter of planning and stress control. For pastors the Easter season is one of both tremendous joy, and tremendous stress. Easter is the highlight of the Christian calendar, and the pinnacle of the church year. Some might call it Super Bowl Sunday for the church. When you plan ahead, it’s manageable. But tragedy strikes when you least expect it, and there is really no way to prepare yourself for it.
As we prepare for Easter, we are walking with Jesus as he approaches the cross. He tries to prepare His disciples for the tragedy that is about to befall them. I like to call it a March to Madness. Something is going to happen to them and it’s going to be devastating for a while (3 days to be exact). It’s going to test their resolve at the very core of their being. Though Jesus tried to prepare them for what was to come, they really didn’t get it. How could they?
This Sunday we will be celebrating “Palm Sunday,” where Jesus comes into Jerusalem triumphantly on a donkey and the people cheer and they love Him. They throw palm branches on the ground, and they shout, “Hosanna, Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.” But soon those triumphant shouts of joy will turn to jeers and calling for the authorities to release the criminal Barabbas, instead of the Son of God, Jesus. The disciples must have been dumbfounded. How could this be? Why is this happening? What is God doing? How could He let this happen?
Then Jesus does something in the garden of Gethsemane that I think is key to this whole thing. He’s praying to His Father, and asks Him, is there another way? Can you take this situation from me? Then Jesus says, “Not my will, but Yours be done.”
I’ve found that in situations that I find myself in, especially the difficult ones, that there is something bigger in play. God is always trying to teach me something bigger than myself. We cannot avoid tragedy no matter what we do. Jesus says in John 16:33, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” You are guaranteed trouble, but I think despite these tragedies God wants to teach you something, as he did Michigan State basketball player Travis Trice, when he became ill in 2012 with a virus that no doctor could diagnose. He was sick for 8 weeks and lost 20 lbs. Travis said that while he was sick, he got a newfound outlook on life, and every day had new meaning. He saw God’s hand on his life, and his healing. In his illness there was a greater thing at work.
I believe that God wants to work in your life and my life in the same way, though we don’t always understand it. You can take comfort in 1 Corinthians 13:12, which says: “For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.”