It’s Good Friday, and I want to escape.
Don’t get me wrong here. I drove from college to home (from Kansas to North Dakota) yesterday, so I don’t want to escape where I am right now. I am sitting in my living room, driving coffee, and my mom is just on the couch over, talking on the phone. I am exactly where I want to be in this moment.
But I know what today is. It’s Good Friday, and I want to escape.
It’s the same internal feelings that I experienced while standing in the gas chambers at the Dachau Concentration Camp, the first concentration camp opened in Germany. Standing there where so many were led to die, I wanted to escape. I was walking along the space where the barracks once stood, and I was overwhelmed by this desire to be anywhere but there. I wanted to run, but I knew that running would only get me as far as gate. The gate reads, “Arbeit macht frei,” which means, “work sets you free.”
The irony comes in when my escape takes the shape of busying myself so much so that I don’t have to think. I schedule classes and work so jammed-pack, making it almost impossible to add anything else into my day—including eating lunch, meeting with my supervisor, or even breathing most days. Most days I find that my freedom is not found in my busyness, nor is it found in my work. I find the most freedom when I accept my limits and embrace humility.
When I was walking down the aisle of the church to be seated for my Grandmother’s funeral, with each step forward, I kept thinking about how I wanted to escape. I wanted to turn around and run out of the church. I didn’t really care about what anyone would think; I just wanted to run. I didn’t want to face the truth of death.
You see, Good Friday means that death is not just coming, but death is here.
John 19:42: “And so, because it was the day of preparation for the Jewish Passover and since the tomb was close at hand, they laid Jesus there.”
It’s in the forefront in my mind. Death.
And so we must walk directly into the darkness.
In the book Emotionally Healthy Spirituality, Peter Scazzero references Gerald Sittser writes in his book, A Grace Disguised, about the loss of his mother, wife and young daughter in a horrific car accident. He realized that:
“The quickest way to reach the sun and the light of day is not to run west chasing after it, but to head east into the darkness until you finally reach the sunrise.”
On page one hundred sixteen in Living with Contradiction, Esther de Waal writes:
“The promise is not that we shall escape the hard things but that we shall be given grace to face them, to enter into them, and to come through them. The promise is not that we shall not be afraid. It is that we need not fear fear.”
I want to escape because I am afraid of the death of Christ. Not afraid that it will happen, but afraid of what the truth of what his death means.
Wednesday we had a prayer walk with the teens. One of the stations we wrote down the labels that we claim for ourselves, the labels that God does not claim for us, but we cannot seem to let go. I wrote on the note card: “Bitterness and Resentment.”
The station that followed let us nail those things to the cross. With each pound of the nail into the wood, I knew that Jesus’ death was because of me.
But Jesus didn’t die so I would feel guilty. Jesus died so I could feel life. Jesus died so I could freely forgive, love and serve the people around me. Jesus didn’t die so I’d feel weighed down. Jesus died so I would be able to experience life with every shackle broken. Jesus didn’t die so I could hold onto bitterness. Jesus died so he could take it from me. Jesus died so I could belong not to the resentment, but so I would belong to him.