The setting is Jerusalem. Mary Magdalene and Mary, the mother of James and Salome are headed to anoint Jesus’ body with spices; but on the way, they ask: “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb? Then they looked up and saw that the stone had already been rolled back.” Mark 16:3-4
I’ve read those lines often, but recently, the impact was fresh, different. I realized how many times I also have wondered how I would accomplish a task I believed was nearly impossible, yet God made a way — like when He rolled away the stone.
Nothing can compare with the Resurrection. Nothing can compare with God’s love and mercy.
To fully grasp that concept, however, sometimes we have to step out in faith. One of the best examples I can give was when I was approached to sing at our church. Keep in mind, I was 37 at the time and I had never spoken a word to the man who stood there asking me to lead the congregation. Moreover, I had never so much as whistled a solo note in public. School choir, yes. Solo, no. (Make that a resounding no.)
To make a long story short: Like many, I was teased as a kid, so for most of my life I didn’t have an ounce of self-confidence. At this point, the love of God and my family had greatly helped my insecurity, but I still really struggled at times. In that moment when I was asked to sing, I remember nodding my head, but inside, I was begging God, “Oh please don’t ask me to do this.” It seemed impossible. Unreasonable. Ridiculous. I was the biggest chicken in the world and convinced I could make a mistake just walking. How was I supposed to sing in front of an entire congregation?
Still, in the days following, I reflected on the past events and years that had led me to that moment. Even though I was raised to know and love God, my real journey getting to know the Father’s heart began in my early 20s when my dad died. His unexpected death caused me to decide whether I really believed in God — the same God with whom I had just pleaded and trusted to heal my dad. Through grace, I held onto my faith and came to know God in an even deeper way through daily reading of scripture. This was a pivotal moment in my faith journey. His Word helped me endure suffering, see the bigger picture, and draw nearer to Him, especially at Mass and through the Sacraments.
I finally decided to say “Yes” to God, no matter what, including singing — regardless of what people would say. Regardless of my paralyzing fear. Regardless of the fact that I thought my chance of success was as good as zero. Admittedly, my love and desire to serve God is probably the only thing I have in common with the two Marys who sought to anoint Jesus’ body 2,000 years ago. I would imagine that both women were apprehensive about being seen near the tomb of Jesus — a man so despised that He was tortured and killed. They could have stayed back in fear, or pride — wondering whether they would be ridiculed for anointing the body of a condemned blasphemer. But despite the obstacles, they showed up to offer Jesus what they had. And that first time I sang, I brought all I had. Along with my faults, failures, and weakness, I brought every ounce of faith I possessed. And just like with the women, God rolled away the stone for me. He had been preparing my heart since before I was born. He sent people to me to encourage me right before it was time to sing. He calmed my knocking knees, my nauseous stomach, and stilled my shaking voice. In that moment, He lifted me above my preconceived beliefs of who I was, who others believed me to be. In that moment, God did the impossible — in me.
Each of us have, or will face, a giant, heavy “stone” in our life — an obstacle or burden that seems immovable. For some, it will be cancer. For others, a divorce, a sick child, an addiction, or maybe loss of faith. For some, death is the stone they cannot get around and fear the most.
We all worry and fret about much. We even pray about our burdens, but often, more in a state of panic than trust. But Jesus’ Resurrection is proof that God can bring good to us through even the most hideous events and impossible obstacles — no matter how things appear to our eyes or press in on our hearts. For three days, the apostles and those who loved Jesus thought He had lost — that they had lost. For three days, their hope was shattered, their faith, shaken. But then the stone was rolled back — without their help. Without their knowledge or full understanding, God’s will was done. The Eternal Promise of Christ became a reality to them. In this promise, there can be no lasting darkness or defeat.
Whether God helps us push the stone away, or moves it for us, we can be confident that what He wills, He will accomplish! “He has been raised, just as He said!” Matthew 28:6
This Easter Season, believe “the same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead is within you,” that you may live in the hope and joy of the true and everlasting love of Christ. (Romans 8:11)
Elizabeth Schmeidler is a Christian author from Hays.