A Change of Plans
“Very early on the first day of the week they went to the tomb when the sun had risen. And they were saying to one another, "Who will roll away the stone for us from the door of the tomb?" —Mark 16: 2–3
I got married at thirty-eight. For a big, Italian family where women became grandmothers at that age, I was something of an anomaly. Despite my insisting, this wasn’t actually part of my plan. I’d been engaged fifteen years earlier, to a different man, at the age I thought one was supposed to do those things. Get married young, give the parents grandbabies, pinch pennies to save for a nice house. But that wasn’t the right person. It wasn’t the right time.
It’s been said that if you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans. The women going to the tomb had the best intentions: the annointing of the Lord’s body. It was probably an ordeal to get everything together: wake early; acquire the anointing spices; and, when they got there, find someone to roll away the stone. They likely noticed something was amiss before they reached the tomb. It was a large stone, and it wasn’t where it was supposed to be. In that moment, their plans had changed.
I love a good checklist. Whether it’s a recipe for banana muffins or major life experiences, checking items off the list helps make sense of it. Bananas, sugar, flour? Check. Do well in school, land a good job, get married? Check... or so I thought.
I accepted God’s “No,” though it didn’t make sense at the time. It had been my plan. When I did meet someone, years, later, I thought it was too late. I was supposed to be married in my early twenties, not nearly forty.
But the women at the tomb strike something in me. This wasn’t something comparatively simple, like getting married (supposedly) late. This was a major upheaval. Jesus had died, and they were doing the only thing they could feasibly do. They mustered all their emotional strength to enter the tomb and encounter His lifeless body. But Jesus had other plans for them that day, and He had other plans for me.
We all have things that don’t go as planned. I don’t understand God’s plans, but I trust that it’s the right one. When the women approached the empty tomb, they were scared out of their wits. They fled, not even telling anyone at first. But eventually they spread the good news. Jesus had come personally to give them direction: Go. They didn’t know what would happen, but they listened.
I have no idea what God’s plans are for my (not-as-young-as-I-wanted) marriage. But He says the same thing to me now, as He says to us all: Go. After witnessing the gruesome death of their Lord, I imagine the women thought it was over. Death had won; there was nothing left now.
But they were wrong. They couldn’t be more wrong.
Even in our best intentions, even when we think we have everything under control, Jesus has something greater for us. It’s often not what we planned. Sometimes, it’s nothing like we planned. We see the stone rolled away—our plans uprooted—and it’s terrifying. What now?
In the empty tomb, there is hope. It’s not over because things didn’t go as we expected. We are not dead, as He is not dead; He lives, so we may have life. The women didn’t know what that life looked like, and I certainly don’t know what my life will look like. But He’s telling us to Go, so I trust that I should listen.
Image: Burnand, Eugène. The Disciples Peter and John Running to the Tomb on the Morning of the Resurrection. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Disciples_running_by_EB.jpg
5/14/2023 07:18:52 am
This article brought me too tears . It is so beautiful! I want to share this with others.
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