It’s been a long week.
I was in clinic on Thursday and Friday. Then I worked in the hospital from Saturday morning until Sunday afternoon. I took a short nap, then spoke at a church service on Sunday night. I was in clinic on Monday, and again on Tuesday (yesterday.) Today I’m heading back to the hospital to work another 30-hour shift.
I’m tired. It’s hot. And the only caffeine around is either instant coffee or Folger’s. An iced quad venti skinny vanilla latte is at least a thousand miles away….a little too far to drive for a coffee break.
In the mornings I try to get up a little early to meditate and pray and sit with God for a while before the day gets crazy. The other morning, I was telling God how tired I was. I remembered telling him the same thing when I was going through chemo and I was completely wiped out.
When I was on chemo, I asked God, “How is it possible that your power raised Jesus from the dead, and yet most mornings I can’t even get out of bed?”
The other morning, I reminded God of the same thing, only it was more of a request than a question. “God, you can do this. You can give me a sudden, crazy, overwhelming, blinding burst of energy to make this day easy and fun. Remember the resurrection? Kinda like that. Only maybe just half the amount of power you used that Sunday morning because I’m not dead. I’m just really tired.”
As I was thinking about Jesus rising from the dead, the narrative began to play itself backward in my head, like a movie rewinding. The resurrection, then the crucifixion, then the trial, then the night before the trial, when Jesus was on his knees in Gethsemane, praying, “Not my will but yours.”
And I realized that the power that raised Jesus from the dead on Sunday morning was the same power at work in his life on Friday night.
On Sunday, the power gave him strength to live. On Friday, the power gave him the strength to die.
When I’m praying for God’s power to be at work in my life, I want the Sunday morning power. I want to be revived. I want to have more energy, more possibilities, more happiness. I want to be delightfully surprised.
But sometimes the power at work in my life is the power that gives me strength to lay down my life — or, in Paul’s words, to be poured out like a drink offering.
Sometimes God’s presence in my life is like Ephesians 3, filling me to the measure of all the fullness of God. And sometimes God’s presence is like the woman with the alabaster jar in John 12, pouring out half a liter of anointing perfume that cost her a year’s wages.
I want Togo to be a Sunday morning experience. I want to fly back to the U.S. on the edge of my seat, just waiting to tell people about all the miraculous, amazing experiences that happened in Africa.
But I have to accept that maybe Togo will be a Friday night experience. Maybe God will give me the grace and the strength to give my time, energy, resources and love away. And maybe at the baggage claim in Chicago, my family will have to revive me with Starbucks and hugs, and then take me home and tuck me in for a long, long sleep.
But even in that, there is hope. Because when God gives us the strength to die to ourselves on Friday night, he promises to revive us with a new, fuller, deeper kind of life.
Resurrection always waits for us on the other side of death (or, in some cases, a really, really, really long nap.)