I am on the last few chapters of the Hunger Games. I have been losing sleep the last three nights due to its riveting intensity of action. I have fallen in love with the characters – Peeta with his unconditional love and the hijacking of it, Gale with his undying loyalty yet clinging to anger, Katniss with her flawed harshness and her fierce love, Prim with her innocence and finding her strength…I am drawn like a moth to the flame or an addict to the needle. I am sucked in each night, way past my bedtime, with a need to see how it ends, yet something holds me back… I don’t want to say good-bye to Peeta. I will miss Katniss’s valor and attitude. I don’t want it finished. Even as I fly through these last pages of mounting action, I am savoring every last word like they were my last breaths.
I don’t think I am alone in this. –Not wanting to say good-bye to something. Even if the next novel, the next trilogy, the next job, next relationship, or whatever could be even better, could exceed our wildest dreams or could be “THE ONE?” Good-byes are tough. I believe it is part of what keeps people locked in abusive relationships and dead end jobs; missing out on what is around the corner or what could be if you just held on a little longer…
Yet, nothing and no one in this life is permanent.
Until recently, I was never a church-goer. I didn’t know that people when to church on Good Friday. Now that I have been to church on this day, I still don’t quite understand. How is this day “good?” The Crucifixion? The One who came to save us is hanging on a cross?
John 19:30 records Jesus: “It is finished!” Then he bowed his head and released his spirit.
When I picture the scene, Jesus’ beaten and abused body hanging on the cross and between two thieves, I can’t help but think about what his mother Mary felt. What Peter was thinking? The confusion of all of those who followed him to that place. If there ever was a time to think things had hit an absolute bottom, this was it.
I can barely make it through a Good Friday service. Beyond the visual and the corresponding heartache, I don’t want to say good-bye.
Emerson Hart wrote a song for a friend who described to him the conflicting emotions he was having as he faced divorcing his wife. The song’s called “I wish the best for you.” Check out a few lines:
“How long can we wait here To say goodbye?
The words once they’re spoken Are words that we can’t take Back to where we were, before Things got in the way Life gets so confusing When you know what you’re losing
Why can’t we see that there’s More to love than we’ll ever know
Sometimes you’re closer when you’re Letting go… I wish the best for you”
This song gets me because of the truth of it.
I’ve walked in those shoes – The very pain of saying good-bye, the hurts of letting go are vividly right in your face, even as you are saying good-bye. Even if you know it is the right thing. It has to happen.
After the Resurrection, Jesus spoke to Mary Magdalene in John 20:17: “Don’t cling to me,” Jesus said, “for I haven’t yet ascended to the Father. But go find my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”
I tend to forget what is around the next corner; that the story doesn’t end on Good Friday. I forget that this was part of His plan. It had to happen.
“I am leaving you with a gift; peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid. Remember what I told you; I am going away, but I will come back to you again. If you really loved me, you would be happy that I am going to the Father, who is greater than I am. I have told you these things before they happen so that when they do happen, you will believe.
I don’t have much more time to talk to you, because the ruler of this world approaches. He has no power over me, but I will do what the Father requires of me, so that the world will know that I love the Father. Come, let’s be going.” (John 14:27)
He knew what He was going to have to do. There was a purpose to the pain He was going to endure. He said His good-byes.
When I walk into the Good Friday service, I forget to believe. I forget to move my focus to the empty tomb; and the story doesn’t even end there! I get wrapped up in the pain and the stuff of this world and forget who God is—Forgetting that He knows about the pains of this world; that He overcame death; that He still lives.
As I ready myself to say good-bye to Gale, Katniss, Prim and Peeta from The Hunger Games, I remember there is always the movie. As I dig out my waterproof mascara for the Good Friday service, I remember the Sunday Easter Service. And as we all face the pains of whatever it is we have to let go of, I pray that you hold fast to the peace that Jesus left us with. I pray that you know that there is a plan and a purpose to the pain and that purpose might just be around the next corner.
And I pray that you take heart and hold on to knowing that even though it is finished, it is not the end.