One of my absolute favorite things about having kids…is seeing the world through their eyes. They just see things better. They see things with a resilient, child-like hope. They see things with an incomparable joy, like everything is a gift that they feel so privileged to even get to see. They see things like they haven’t seen them before…because sometimes they really are seeing those things for the very first time.
This works for butterflies at the park, and lady bugs in the grass, but it’s also true for much, much more important things. The other day we were reading the story of Passion Week together from the Jesus Storybook Bible. After the Last Supper, it says that Jesus and his friends finished eating and then, “walked to their favorite place…an olive garden.”
You should have seen the joy on little Fred’s face when he heard those words. “The OLIVE GARDEN,” he cried. “That’s my favorite place! I didn’t know Jesus has been to the Olive Garden!” He was so tickled about that one he couldn’t even concentrate for the rest of the story.
But that’s how it is when you’re someone who’s new to the world. When you’re someone with a new heart, new dreams, new questions, and two beautiful, new eyes. They read about Jesus washing His disciples feet…and they’ve got a million questions about why their feet were all so dirty and stinky in the first place. They read about Jesus’ anger in the temple…and they shiver just thinking about what it feels like to even be in trouble with mommy and daddy. They read these things…and it isn’t like, “Ho-Hum, la-de-dah…Jesus left for the Olive Garden again.” They are fresh, and new, and at the very beginning of getting to know Jesus for a lifetime…and the whole thing is very exciting.
So, why am I saying all of this?
It’s not that I think every grown-up who reads the Easter story, should totally expect to marvel at every detail in the same child-like way. I think there is a preciousness to childhood that we crusty, old adults simply cannot replicate, even if we tried. Jesus made it so clear, how very special and unique little children were to Him, every time He let them crawl into His arms and wreck His robe with smudges of fig jam and fish grease. He knew exactly how precious little ones, with their endless questions and insatiable joy, were to the Kingdom He and His Father were building. Are building. And even today, I know that my little ones are on His heart and mind…as they fight through each long day.
But at the same time, as much as we can never be exactly what they are…I think we’ve lost something precious, if we don’t read read those age-old, worn down pages, with the same awe and wonder this week.
We have to fight harder to get there, because they are simply not new anymore…but they are still, precious indeed.
I read about Jesus and His friends heading out the Olive Garden, and I mostly just want to weep. Just thinking about how heavy each step must have been for Him…as He trudged towards that long, dark night. His sweat heavy to bleeding, and His heart heavy to breaking, as He lived through a miserable night, that was only a prelude to the even darker day.
And I wonder, if maybe just maybe, He was remembering another dark night. A night similar to the one He was in…with warm bread, bitter herbs, and blood-red wine. The night, way back when, when He watched as His Father commanded His people to pour blood on the doorposts of their lives.
I’ve been thinking about that word all week.
And to be honest, images of blood on doorposts, is not what immediately comes to mind. One Passover ago, as I sat in a grief counselor’s office, I felt the weight of a passover in another way. I remember one day in her office particularly vividly. The counselor had asked me to describe what it felt like to have Charlie taken away. And this was the first image that came to my mind…
“I feel like…I have spent eight excited months in a long line of pregnant women. I, and everyone before me and after me who were pregnant with me, are standing in a line… waiting to get our babies. Like kids…lined up outside a candy shop, hands eagerly outstretched, so very excited to get our special candy. And then, Dad comes out of the store, and slowly hands each person their beautiful piece of shiny, bright candy. And then when He gets to me…He rips the piece of candy right out of my hands, slaps me over the head…and walks away. Like a very bad game of “Duck, Duck, Goose.” And the worst part…is that everyone else…gets their candy.”
I am not saying that that is exactly how it all went down in the heavenlies regarding my life. But that is exactly what it felt like to my broken and bleeding being.
I got passed over.
You might even be reading this and feel a little offended that I would say such a thing.
But there is nothing like being in a line, and then suddenly, not being in a line. There is nothing like having your womb stretched out, and your hands outstretched, eagerly awaiting the absolute best gift you could ever be given in this life…and then suddenly, horrifically, the gift is snatched away. This is a not a statement about the heart of the One who took Charlie…it is a statement about what it feels like from our human perspective, to be someone who has experienced the snatching.
You feel…passed over.
And this is a feeling that I know is not totally unique to me.
The godly woman who has waited her entire life for Mr. Godly Right. She reads stupid things on Pinterest like, “God gives the best gifts to those who leave the choice to Him,” and she wants to throw something at the computer screen.
Because God doesn’t always give the “best” gift…the one you’ve always wanted…to those who give Him their lives. Following Jesus is not a sign-up for an amazing life. HE is amazing. HE is real and near and powerful and present. And He promises only one gift…if you chose to trust Him with your life. The best gift. The gift of Himself. And all other gifts…He may take away. All other gifts…may never even give in the first place.
And what you get or don’t get, has far less to do with how well you “left the choice to Him” than ANY of us would like.
You may not know what I’m talking about,t and that’s totally ok. But there are so many moments in life where many, many people are left to feel completely “passed over” by the God whom they have always trusted implicitly.
The godly older couple who love every single neighbor-kid like they are their own…but never, ever get a grand baby. The retired woman who had such dreams of a life of adventure with her husband, and she is the only one of her friends whose husband left for heaven far before “his time.” The couple who has waited for ten years to have a baby, and absolutely nothing is “working.” The college girl who is literally the only one in her friend group who did not get her “ring by spring.”
It is a horrible, horrible thing to feel passed over. Especially when you have trusted Him so deeply.
I sit here this Passover week, with a body so sick I can barely function, knowing that every single person who lost a baby in the same year that I lost Charlie…has already brought a baby home, or has one on the way. I sit here this week, in a house full of stuff I did not own two months ago, wondering where one goes to buy a linen table cloth for Easter, since all of my grandma’s tablecloths got thrown out with everything else in our life.
And most of all, I sit here this Easter, wondering why my babies precious bodies are stuck in the cold ground of spring, and everyone else’s babies are in their arms today. Wondering why my little girl was sobbing at bedtime the other night, because she is so terrified that Mommy is going to die of cancer, from the lumps the doctor found in her thyroid. Wondering why my life has been passed over…from so very many joys. Wondering why our family seems to literally go from misery to horrific misery, instead of from glory to glory.
And then all of it…all of this wondering, all of this pain…gets stopped breathless by one simple truth…it is Passover week.
For all that I have been passed over from…there is one pass-over, that literally saved my life.
The angel of forever death…has passed over me.
Because the Jesus who went to the Olive Garden with His buddies on that long dark Passover night…went there for me. And the God who has taken things deeply precious to me, is the same God who passed right over His Son’s anguished prayer of, “Father, if there is ANY way…please take this cup from me.”
Because for all of the cups of suffering that God has chosen for our family to drink…there is none that compares to the cups He drank.
Cups of bitter betrayal. Cups of demoralizing denial. Cups of holy wrath.
All. For. Me.
And for all of the times that we have felt passed over this year, as God doesn’t give us what we want, and often gives us exactly what we don’t…nothing compares to the gift He gave that Good Friday, which probably felt nothing but bad at the time.
He left that olive garden, and hung on a cross for you and me.
And He didn’t just hang there, going through the motions, just putting in His time. He hung there as sin overtook His body.
He, who knew no sin, took on lies, and rape, and fornication, and child abuse, and murder and infanticide, like worms wreathing inside His very being. He became those wretched things.
And the punishment for every one of them, passed over you and me.
There may be many Passover left until the return of Christ. This may be the final one, before He comes back to make this big mess right. I honestly check the sky every single day now, hoping it’s today.
But whether they be few, or many, one thing remains…the newest eyes we can ever have, the ones most child-like a full of faith, are when we do not miss what He took for us that day.
When we do not miss what He spared us from.
When we do not miss what did not Pass over…our Savior who bled and died.
When we do not miss the depths of the wretchedness that fell upon HIM…for the sake of our unworthy lives.
When we do not miss that His doorpost stayed empty…so ours could be covered forever by the blood of His suffering.
And that the Passover Lamb, who may have chosen in His wisdom and sovereignty…to not give us every longing in this life…has given us a far greater thing.
The gift of Himself. Bloody and bleeding, on the old, rugged cross where He died.