I am head over heels for my husband.
He has been my rock and my partner and I am grateful every day that we chose each other all those years ago. When we married, that decision was a tipping point in my life. It set events into motion that have made my days on this earth so much brighter, and my place in eternity secure. Although the reality of time has brought trials and disease, his value has come into clear focus over the last few years.
But early on, I was unsure about our relationship.
Like the time I was voted homecoming queen at my tiny high school, contrary to everyone’s expectation (including mine, including his) and he did not rush home from college to escort me. I really thought he would. I was crowned at a basketball game in the school gym on Friday night. Shocked, I called him to relay the “good” news, imagining he would immediately get in his brown Monte Carlo (or on a white horse) and make the two and a half hour drive home. He said he couldn’t.
I waited all day Saturday, hoping he would change his mind. But I went to the dance alone on Saturday night. So I had to do the opening dance with my dad, just us two on the dance floor with the entire school watching. Doesn’t sound so bad now, but in high school, that is humiliating.
Years of dating and hundreds of handwritten, almost daily letters and long-distance calls later, we got married. But if you had asked me that homecoming weekend, I wouldn’t have seen it.
Things looked bad for our relationship that Saturday.
The Easter story also has a sad, defeat-infused Saturday. For believers, it’s not the star of the show. It’s not where the action takes place. Those would be Good Friday and Easter Sunday. Saturday is filled with only waiting. Hard, miserable waiting.
But Saturday was necessary for Easter because God wanted a relationship with us. And solid relationships involve this waiting.
A relationship-inducing Resurrection required a Saturday. Because the emphasis was never on saving us from hell.
If we think of our salvation as God taking away our sin so we can be eternally comfortable, we are missing the point. Escaping permanent condemnation is a nice benefit, for sure. But it was not the purpose.
God has been seeking to draw us close from the beginning of time. He has always wanted a relationship with us. So He had to remove the barrier of sin to get to us. But all He has ever desired, throughout history, was intimacy with each of us. The entire bible and human history have told the story of exile and rescue, and God has woven through it the golden thread of a relationship with Him.
A miraculous, unimaginable relationship between the Creator and the created.
This is a love-driven, grace-wielding, relationship-oriented God.
He exists in relationship as Father, Son, and Spirit. He describes himself and us using parent-child, bride-groom, and friendship terms.
To be sure, Easter was a rescue mission, manned by the Son of God. A prisoner exchange, actually. His life for ours. But the main objective was always to rescue the relationship broken in Eden.
But why did that relationship restoration take three days?
The bible doesn’t talk much about what happened on Saturday. But we do know that our God has a history of this pausing, this waiting, this Saturday stillness.
Lazarus was in the tomb for 4 days because Jesus raised him from the dead. Jacob worked 14 years to marry Rachel. Naomi waited years between the death of her husband and sons until the birth of her grandson, Obed. And of course, Jesus died on Friday but wasn’t raised until Sunday.
I have experienced firsthand that Saturday is where relationships grow. Where you have time to examine your options and decide if you’re sticking around or making a break for it.
Saturdays are where your options for an explanation other than God run out.
Saturdays cannot be reasoned away. Not for those living through the painfully long, disappointing first pre-Easter Saturday, and not for me on my health journey.
If I hadn’t had a 16-month long Saturday with unredeemed heart failure, I might have attributed my improvement to a misread test, or to the effectiveness of meds or diet or devices. To my own power, or the doctors’. But when none of that proved worthy during the wait, I knew what I should have known all along: It was God.
Relationships take time, results sometimes don’t.
God came not to abruptly end our suffering or save us from hell, but to build a lasting relationship with us. And He had to use Saturdays to do it.
The six years my husband and I dated solidified and deepened our foundation for a permanent commitment. The constant letters and phone calls during that long Saturday changed the trajectory of our lives. Despite that homecoming dance and a few other not-so-glorious moments, I wanted this relationship to work.
The same thing happens with God.
Saturdays help define the relationship.
Saturdays give us an opportunity to dwell,
to determine our options,
And all those years ago, after that long homecoming Saturday, I realized I wanted a forever relationship with this guy of mine, not because he did everything I wanted him to, but because he had integrity and character and I could trust him. I later learned he didn’t leave college that weekend because he had already made a commitment to be on campus. As much as he wanted to please me, he was sticking with his word.
That kind of valor got me through the worst year of my life after I learned I had heart failure. But without the Saturday, I might have missed it. And I might have missed out on a relationship that has helped define my life.
Heaven may have looked away on Friday, but because of Saturday, heaven also looked forward to Sunday. To bringing us all Home so our relationship with our God, the relationship that defines our eternal life, would be complete.