1Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance. 2So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!”
3So Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb. 4Both were running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. 5He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in. 6Then Simon Peter, who was behind him, arrived and went into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, 7as well as the burial cloth that had been around Jesus’ head. The cloth was folded up by itself, separate from the linen. 8Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed. 9(They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.)
10Then the disciples went back to their homes, 11but Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb 12and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot.
13They 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.” 14At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus.
15“Woman,” he said, “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.”
16Jesus said to her, “Mary.”
She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!”
17Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet returned to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am returning to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’ “
There is a darkness that is looming over my world and deep within the caverns of my heart. It is the darkness that causes groanings like a pain of childbirth. It is a darkness not unlike the surroundings of an empty tomb which Mary visited that very morning. Discouragement and grief permeates through this dungeon of pain. I understand that Resurrection is real, but it doesn’t negate the experience of suffering and crucifixion. I’m learning to embrace this sorrow and emptiness, together in the comfort of friends and family.
What is this sorrow, this suffering that plagues my soul? The last year was a season where I had set my heart to experience as much as Life has to offer. I was trying out everything that I had an inkling towards. And it has been a wonderful, exhilarating ride. But it came a point at the end of last year where my desires and inclinations just got sucked into a black hole. Suddenly I felt as if nothing moves me anymore. When people asked what I want to do with my life, I have absolutely no answer for them because unlike most people, there really is nothing that compels me to wake up everyday and invest my whole being in a something that grips the heart.
Darkness comes in form of a loneliness where nothing people could say or do could bring new light into my predicament. Cynicism and unbelief comes to invade like a flood. I cannot claim to fathom or understand what is happening. Nor I could rationalize away by finding a hundred reaons on how it came to this. It is like I’ve been stripped clean and reduced to nothing. When all of one’s motivations and desires have been removed, what has the person got left to go through each day with purpose and vision?
Of course, there are certain signs that points to the light of the tunnel. Signs that are like the grave clothes, the strips of linen which the disciples had found in the tomb to suggest that “Something has changed”. For them, those signs are enough to inspire belief. The testimonies of God’s goodness and faithfulness in people’s lives are examples of those grave clothes. They provide evidence that things could change. I have heard them throughout my time in the darkness. I’ve read stories in the Scriptures that points the way and illuminated a clear message that God is with me in this journey. I have mentors assuring me of my decision to plunge into the unknown.
But like Mary, those signs are not enough for me. Like Mary, I linger around the tomb and weep. Like Mary, I’m looking for something more.
Mary saw angels and they asked her, “Why are you crying?” She’s not impressed.
Some have asked, “Why so forlorn, Greg? You looked like something have been troubling your heart all this while.”
The appearance of angels could bring comfort and assurance to many. But angels are not enough for Mary. They are not enough for me.
Like Mary, I’m asking “Where’s my Master?”. Like Mary, I want the One who called me out of darkness, to call me to my next step. I want the One who gave His life for me, to give me Life again. I want the One who gave me a reason to live, to be the reason for my next step. I need to re-connect with the same Spirit embodied in the being of the Person that I hold dear.
Angels and signs can only do so much. I won’t settle. I’m not content looking for another three-point sermon, tips or tricks just to make my life better or more comfortable. I’m not content with principles and beliefs to be picked up that would send me on another meandering trail. I’m yearning, longing and lingering for the kind of reality immersed with the things which I truly believe in.
Signs may point to a certain direction. Angels may be helpful.
But no, I’m pressing for something more. I’m yearning for my God. I’m looking for my Master.
This is the point in my life where I’ve explored every other alley, every other avenue and realized that they are dull and proved to be just dead-ends to where I want to go. This is the moment where there is an opening in my heart to seek what I’m truly longing for. Everything in the fiber in my being is asking for the presence of my Master. To be surprised by a secret entrance of a corridor that leads to a place of greater connection and deeper knowing of this God. That cannot be fulfilled just by adding another hollow experience into my catalog of life’s experiences. Not by travelling to the far reaches of the world or to seek out more interesting sights, sounds and souls.
He may come like an ordinary gardener to Mary, who asks to be led to her Master.
This Gardener says nothing profound to her. This Gardener simply calls her name.
It’s not the person calling you. It’s a Being connecting with who you really are. He’s not interested in your thoughts, your opinions, your emotions, your gifts, your talents, your status, your money or what you could offer to him. He’s interested in you. Solely you. The soul of a child who seeking Him.
A sacred space where I get to meet the God who calls me by name. Who looks past my outward appearance or what I can do for Him. It is the quiet still moment where I am before the God who sees me as who I really am and who I’m being to Him. I’ve really got nothing to offer to this God. In the darkness of the tomb, I’m nothing in myself but everything in Him. He doesn’t expect me to change who I am but He is calling for me to seek Him intimately. With tenacity and desperation of a hungry child.
I don’t claim to understand what it happening in what seemed like the darkest of nights in my life. I don’t seek to know why I’ve been stripped clean of everything that seemed to give me a sense of control and security apart from You. It seemed that You have taken away from me the motivation and drive which is usually sufficient to give a citizen of our modern society an impetus to run their lives and chase the things that makes them feel better about themselves, to acquire some semblance of a seemingly fulfilled and successful life. I’ve been wanting to steer this ship on my own now and doing it my way but You had other ideas. You require nothing from me but You want everything of me.
I know there are signs that point towards the end of tunnel. Ways that I could get out of this tomb of darkness. And there are angels that have brought comfort and assurance to my soul, giving me messages of hope to push on. But God, that is not enough. I want You. To be confronted by the One who calls me by name. Who knows me oh so intimately, more than I could ever have known myself. I’m seeking an audience with You. A moment with the King who has been raised from the dead by the power of the Resurrection.
Today is truly a new day. It marks the first day of the rest of my life. The old challenges and old mindsets are gone. Where I live not for yesterday. I’ve been saved from a life of comparing myself with other people. I’ve been set free from a life that is clinging onto the past – my wounds, my hurts, my disappointments, my frustrations, including the people who wounded me, hurt me, disappointed me. All that is in the past. It does not hold me. Today I celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. And I live in the light of that power.
Today, I refuse to live somewhere in the tomb where my regrets, my shame and my mistake still rule over me. Today, something has changed. Today, something has happened in the darkness of my tomb.
The same power that conquered the grave lives in me.
And as I have found You Master, I would not hold onto You for long. Give me the strength and the courage to proclaim the power of the Resurrection to my brothers and sisters. For the same spirit that calls Christ from the dead is begging and inviting me to declare this Message to the ends of the earth.
Today, I dare myself to trust you again. Because I believe something has changed.
Because I’m a believer in the Resurrection.