Many years ago, a new-teacher friend of mine shared a story with me that has resonated more clearly since my diagnosis. She was on her first day of teaching First Grade. Back then, Kindergarten was only a half day, so First Grade was an even bigger transition for most kids.
The morning went smoothly, and then came lunchtime. One little boy went to get his backpack, as the other children lined up for lunch and the teacher shut off the lights in the room.
The teacher asked what he was doing, and the little boy said, “I’m going home.” The teacher explained, “We don’t go home before lunch like we did when we were in Kindergarten. We stay the entire day. We’re in First Grade now.”
The boy frowned, folded his arms and sat down in his chair in that dark room, “Who in the h*ll signed me up for all-day?”
I have felt that powerlessness, that shock. When All-Day feels like all day searching. All day wandering. All day wondering. When things aren’t wrapping up as quickly as we’d like, or the next step isn’t so clear.
The lonely in the unknown can suffocate you during the All-Day. When it looks like everyone else moves confidently toward a gate marked “known, planned future” and the road sign where you were detoured is simply…missing. Or on worse days when the way forward looks more like a locked door in the middle of the room that someone installed overnight.
This side of Eternity, everyone has an All-Day sooner or later.
Noah had an All-Day. So did Job. The Israelites did. And Moses. The apostles lived a true All-Day on that dreadful, pre-Resurrection Saturday. One of those lead-filled, achy days that surely must have stretched into a month’s-worth.
But our good God knew it would be an All-Day. And He had a plan: His Spirit, the Teacher, will not leave us alone in that dark room.
He signed us up for an All-Day with an eternal purpose in mind. Like Esther in the castle and then Jesus in the Garden, you may not want to be in the position you are in, but God created you for such a time as this. And that thought is empowering and liberating. God has commissioned you for the All-Day.
Even so, the Father must shudder at the thought of an All-Day. I imagine He turns His face away as we go through Good Friday to get to the Resurrection. But if there were no cross, there would be no empty tomb. The Spirit guides us through the dark as we persevere. So one day the unimaginable glory can be revealed.
God’s Spirit always guides and attends, even while we sit alone in the dark room, pouting. He is a patient God. Trust me, I have whined many times about the All-Day.
From my journal after returning from a disappointing trip to the Cleveland Clinic during Easter week:
Woke up with a lump in my throat, realized where I was medically. Tried to remember what day it was, with all the traveling and days off. Oh yeah, yesterday was Good Friday, today is…Saturday…just Saturday. Doesn’t even get a special name. It’s the day no one wants to live, think about, write about, or even name. We think because Friday happened, we deserve to jump straight to Sunday, redemption day, good news day.
Honestly, I have always had a problem with the whole three-day thing, too. It wasn’t three days. It wasn’t even technically two 24-hour periods between the death and resurrection (late Friday afternoon to early Sunday morning). Jesus didn’t spend three whole days in the tomb. But now I’m thinking there is great significance in that.
There were three different days involved in the story. The first one, the shocking bad news, the tragedy, the abrupt turning point, the point that the rest of life is defined by, happens. Friday happens, to be precise, Friday afternoon. Sharp, cruel, and relatively short. At the end is another sort of half-day, Sunday morning: the resurrection, the surprise, the fulfilled hope, the answer to the prayer, the joy. Again, relatively short (although meant to be relived over and over again).
But that period in the middle is the troublesome one: Saturday. Big old mean, boring, painful, long, faith-killing Saturday. It’s a full day, not a half day, like Friday or Sunday. I think God wanted to do it this way to teach us. Because so much of life is lived on that dark Saturday. That ugly, defeated, confusing, hopeless, frustrating Saturday when everything we hoped for is gone.
God must have chosen it this way for our ultimate good. Without Saturday, Sunday would have not been as big a deal. Perhaps the miracle could have been explained away without that waiting day, that unwelcome Saturday. In my selfish little situation, I remember now. It’s Saturday, the Saturday before Easter, literally and figuratively. No miracle…yet. No answered prayer…yet.
The Spirit has not scolded me through my long Saturday, as I grab my backpack of worry and pain. Instead, He continually reminds me: I am the Way, the Truth, the Light. Perhaps this All-Day is the moment for which you were created. Don’t miss the key in your Teacher’s hand. Don’t ignore the Guide in your heart. Don’t wait behind in the dark.