It’s Palm Sunday and I’m grumbling in the back, feeling anything but arm waving and hallelujahs. And Abba, He gently nudges me, gently asks why the dark cloud?
It takes me a few minutes and then I hit on it. I’m so disappointed that I once again fell for the trap. The trap of an expectation built up, quietly, slowly, imperceptibly, only to have reality bust through those straw walls.
The problem is – and you can almost guarantee this like death and taxes – you’ll get so distracted looking down at the busted pieces of a well-imagined future day that you plum fail to look up and see what’s actually happening. Fail to see what Abba is weaving as you live History in the present. Because He’s always there, always working, always good.
And where He is, there’s joy. Even in the most crushing defeat.
That first Palm Sunday, all those people waving branches and throwing down their coats were headed for the hardest fall of their lives. They’re thinking this is the week of their earthly deliverance but by Friday, they don’t see anything good in the bitter disappointment of a Carpenter King crucified and bleeding like some common criminal.
They’re weeping bitter tears and spitting angry because they think this God-Man failed to give them what they wanted. And the whole time they’re staring at their shattered expectations, they can’t see that they’re getting everything they’ve always needed.
Deliverance from the shackles of sin and that Devil-tyrant.
Blood-bought forgiveness that forever pays the debt they owe to Creator God.
A hope and a future rooted in the Messiah Savior, hanging there by a few slips of skin and some nails.
And we, the People of the Cross, we look back and think, how could they miss it?
How could they miss that this, this seemingly nightmare in the day, was actually Heaven writing its greatest love story?
How could they miss that the crushing defeat wasn’t of a man, or of their dreams, but of the curse of death?
How could they not see that they were standing at the epicenter of history, the point to which all of creation had been building and from which nothing would ever be the same?
We shake our heads and wonder how they could be so blind. Wonder how they could be so limited in their vision for the future that they missed the greatest miracle unfolding right before their eyes.
Sound like anyone you know?
Because that’s me pretty much every season. And maybe you too? I’m never at a loss for finding some way to get frustrated, to feel let down, to think that my grand future plans just aren’t playing out.
And yeah, then I look back and I start threading the pieces together and the sheer grace of it all takes my breath away. The intricate weaving of the busted expectations into a stunning life story that defies my imagination.
You and I, we dream with limits, boxing in what God might want to do because we just can’t see how it could be any other way.
But that Cross, it stands as a reminder pointing high that God has never worked within the expectations of people like you and me. He’s not bound by our small-thinking and he’s certainly not reduced to the weak and definable versions we too often hold of Him.
No, our God delights in doing the unexpected, in defying man-made rules to take the weak and foolish things of this world in order to turn a stunning victory.
So the next time you’re looking at a busted up pile of expected dreams that didn’t come true, remember the Cross. You might just be missing the miracle in the ashes.