This is where the story get’s really interesting. Something happens that I had never picked up on before and it is ever so applicable to our “Now what?” moments today as it was for Mary Mag 2,000 years ago.
There are so many times in life when something comes to an end and we’re not sure what’s next. We don’t have the answers. We don’t know where to go. Times when no decision is a decision in and of itself. Times when we don’t even know where to begin. “Now what?”
There’s no denying it; “Now what?” moments are hard. The truth is, these moments can be even harder for followers of Jesus. I might be able to understand that life just sucks sometimes, but shouldn’t God be there for me in those moments? That’s hard. I can come up with a lot of accolades on this like:
- It’s a time of learning.
- It will make you stronger.
- Your faith is being tested.
- You’re never alone.
But, the truth is, those things are just not helpful in the moment. You need direction. You need guidance. You need hope. Actually, I need direction. I need guidance. I need hope.
I can’t say why we face “Now what?” moments in life, but I can tell you that there is hope. In preparing for a discussion with a group of high school students this coming weekend, I read one of the greatest “Now what?” moments in all of history. It’s the story of Mary Magdalene (we’ll call her Mary Mag).
Mary Mag met Jesus in a unique way and he changed her life quite immediately. She deeply loved and was an avid follower of Christ – and, yes, she believed he was The Christ. He was the answer to everything; personal failures, physical pain, spiritual torture, social oppression – everything! She, and many others, wholeheartedly believed that Jesus was the promised Messiah and that everything would soon be made right. She was so absolutely sure of this that she was willing to put herself in grave danger by being publicly associated with this rebel…
…Then, he died.
Broken, discouraged, hurt, bewildered, Mary Mag seeks comfort by being near to the only thing that has brought her comfort. She wants to be close to the dead body of Jesus. It’s her last ditch effort to hold on to sanity. Upon arrival, even that last thread of peace is gone – literally. The body of Jesus, Mary Mag’s one connection to her crashing reality, is taken from her. This is the stage upon which John simply writes:
Now Mary stood outside the tomb crying. (20:11)
This is where the story get’s really interesting. Something happens that I had never picked up on before and it is ever so applicable to our “Now what?” moments today as it was for Mary Mag 2,000 years ago. Let’s continue:
As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot. They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?”
“They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.”
At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus.
He asked her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?”
Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him” (20:11-15)
The XP3 material that I am studying points out that, “Mary (Mag) is face to face with Jesus, and she doesn’t see Him. She is so caught up in her pain, so consumed with her disappointment, that she can’t see Jesus right in front of her. And Jesus isn’t frustrated or disappointed. No, He just says her name: ‘Mary.‘“
The solution was there. The solution is here.
I am not going to leave you with a simple answer to your “Now what?” The answers aren’t always simple. The answers aren’t always clear. You may not know the answer, but trust this – your God does; and, He is right there. We are sometimes so blinded by our tears, pain, confusion and disappointment that we fail to see the path forward. Put yourself in His hands. Trust His leading. Move forward with confidence. Don’t miss the fact that He is right there in front of you in the same way he was for Mary Mag. Look for Him. Talk to Him. He is calling you by name.