I, however, like to linger.
I find myself lingering now! Another Easter has come and gone. My soul, reluctant to let the beauty of the resurrection story so hastily drift away, is lingering over a moment with the women who most closely followed Jesus. Are you lingering too?
The Gospel of Mark tells us that as the women walked to the tomb to anoint Jesus' body, they wondered aloud who would move the stone to allow them entrance. It's a detail I've never thought much about, but the more I considered it, the more bewildered I became. Not so much that the women were stumped over how they were going to move the stone - truly, an impossible feat - but that they acknowledged the impossible and kept moving towards their purpose anyway, one faithful step at a time. Are you putting one foot in front of the other in a seemingly impossible task?
As one commentator pointed out, "The women were anxious about the stone, but isn't it interesting they go anyway with no idea how they would move it. They weren't carrying a shovel nor did they bring a bulldozer. They just knew they needed to go."
Let me repeat that last phrase: They just knew they needed to go.
And so they kept walking.
I'm in awe of these women. Not only did they refuse to abandon their holy task of anointing the body of Jesus, but they kept moving towards him in spite the fact that they didn't know what they were going to do when they reached their destination. They also give us a picture of what happens when God calls us to himself. We are left with no other choice: We go. We go because we know we need to.
As I've journeyed alongside women in my own life, it's become clear that some of the places towards which God calls us are readily identifiable - perhaps a dream we've been moving towards for years - while other destinations feel more ambiguous, subtle ripples beneath the surface whose vibrations we can't quite identify. Often times we know God is calling us somewhere to do something, but we're just not sure what or where. Perhaps a job we need to pursue, a degree we need to attain, a person we need to befriend, a child we need to adopt, a mission we need to serve, a wound we need to heal, a risk we need to take to use our gifts and offer them to the world.
As we move towards these places, we'll inevitably find ourselves wondering about those things that make the journey seem impossible - the stones that lie ahead that we can't help but ask how we're going to move. We'll be tempted to stop short because of the looming uncertainty, or we'll become so focused on who will move the stone that we'll forget to simply keep putting one foot in front of the other.
But God doesn't ask us to move the stones. He doesn't ask us to have all of the answers. He doesn't ask us to explain all the details behind how we knew we needed to go.
He asks us, instead, to walk along the path he's created for us, finding contentment despite the fact that we won't know all that we'll encounter along the way.
He asks us to pay attention to the places he's is inviting us, and have courage to go, even when the stones feel too big to move.
Most importantly, he asks us to trust the promptings that pull us towards our Resurrected Lord - the nudgings and nigglings and stirrings that compelled us to move in the first place - the ones that made it clear, even if we couldn't quite explain it - that we knew we needed to go.
And then he asks us to simply keep walking.
For every mother out there who just keeps picking herself up, I encourage you to look up to heaven and know he is helping you to do the impossible task of raising your children, making meals, doing laundry. In fact, he's already removed the stone and walking beside you as you do it!