“I don't want it to be Friday!”
...said no one, ever.
But that's not really what I mean because after spending a full week with high-schoolers, you know I'm looking forward to the weekend as much as anyone.
Here's what I mean.
I was sitting in church last Sunday and was struck by the story of the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem and that the next time I sat in that same seat, we would be celebrating the triumphal resurrection of the risen Lord.
And if I wanted to, I could easily skip over Friday.
The day of the Crucifixion.
Now this was not a push for religious obligation to assuage guilt or earn holiness...but more that I was struck by how closely it aligned with the reality in which I often find myself.
I don't want to deal with Friday.
I want the excitement and anticipation of last Sunday (Palm Sunday).
I want the life-altering victory of next Sunday...Easter Sunday!
...but I don't want today.
I don't want Friday.
I don't want the pain.
I don't want the uncertainty.
I don't want the ridicule and the mockery.
And I'm NOT equating my suffering with Jesus.
I'm humbled by the only moment where even Jesus desired something other than
suffering, where he begged His Father to take it away from Him,
I'm embarrassed by both the sheer volume and duration of moments where I desire the same.
Where I don't want to be challenged.
Where I don't want to be obedient.
Where I just want things to be easy.
Every time I've been challenged, I've emerged better. The outcome has not always been what I desired, but challenge has improved me.
But I first had to go through whatever my current version of Friday was.
Again...the point here is neither false comparison nor minimization of an event that has radically altered and transformed my own life. Jesus suffered in ways that I will never experience or understand. Ever. And, at the same time, that does not invalidate my own suffering.
The point is simply that I - and we - don't want to suffer. I want growth without pain. I want victory without challenge.
I want the resurrection without the cross.
Thank you, God, that it doesn't work that way.
We're going to spend the next few weeks on the podcast talking about challenge across a few different categories.
Why we need it.
How we've become better versions of ourselves through it.
And why we often attempt to run from it when we can and don't like it when we're in the midst of it.
But that's okay.
Not to conflate cinema with Scripture, but as Tom Hanks’ character, Jimmy Dugan, said about challenges in A League of Their Own, “It's supposed to be hard. If it wasn't hard, everyone would do it. The hard...is what makes it great.”
On this day, Jesus willingly suffered excruciating torture for the joy set before him.
For an ending that was worth every moment of angst and agony.
So, as I attempt to follow the path He is laying out for me in my own life, while a part of me admittedly wishes for ease, I choose to embrace Friday. I choose to assent to challenge. I choose to accept the hard...because that’s what makes it great.
Let’s do this.
(And if you need some extra motivation to face your Fridays, check out this video clip that Morgan at “Become Good Soil” directed me to. It’s pretty fantastic!)