Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb and they asked each other, “Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?” But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away. As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed. Mark 16:2-5
These women had two sleepless nights to start their grieving process. They had something along the lines of 36 hours to mourn their loss and to begin dealing with the harsh reality of life without Jesus. It had to have been painful and scary and confusing. As soon as the Sabbath was over, they started together for the tomb to take care of one bit of unfinished “business”. They were busy making their plans on their way there. Their biggest concern was how they would roll away the stone. It was in the midst of that mundane concern and preoccupation that God provided a game-changing turn of events…the empty tomb.
I think it is God’s nature to change the game on us, His people. I believe his ways are so very different from our ways, His thoughts so far removed from our thoughts, that we will encounter this type of “this-changes-everything” moment often in the church if we are truly seeking after Him. But we don’t dare miss them, right? Here are some observations about the church and our opportunity in this regard…
1. While you’re waiting, continue doing the last thing you knew you were supposed to be doing. Grief is a debilitating thing. It would have been easy for these women to just stay at home and grieve. But there was something to be done…and they set out to do it. Aren’t we glad they did? As a church, we must remain faithful to the tasks and the ministries God has given us, even as we wait and watch expectantly for His next assignment.
2. Don’t get distracted or discouraged by difficulties. If these women thought and acted like so much of the church today, they may well have stopped short of ever arriving at the empty tomb. Their thoughts and conversation might well have been: “Wait, we have no way to move the stone away! We have no idea how that will happen. That seems like an insurmountable task…maybe God just isn’t in this. Let’s just go back and pray and wait for God to answer this problem.” Yikes! Can you imagine missing this entire event? Just because we don’t have all the answers to all the problems doesn’t mean God is not in it. Give Him a chance!
3. Be amazed, even afraid…but be watchful. Walking up and seeing the stone already rolled away, I suppose there were several options for these women. They could have run away in fear. They could have stopped dead in their tracks. Or they could continue into the tomb with eyes wide open, investigating further. When God reveals Himself to us in a God’sized way, that is no time to back away. That’s an invitation to lean in!
4. Have a communication plan ready. It is so very much like God to task these women with the job of going and telling. That, after all, is what God’s people have always been tasked with doing, right? Our mission, our very purpose for existing, is essentially a communications purpose. It seems to me, then, that we should be really, really good at communicating! We should have some rock-solid systems already in place for telling the stories of the God-sized, game-changing moments in our church’s life.
I know, I know…the whole reason these are often game-changing moments is that we don’t see them coming! It’s awfully hard to prepare for something like that, right? Nevertheless, isn’t it scary to think that we could miss a moment like that for our church, just because we weren’t watching for it nor expecting it?