Think about all the waiting at that first Easter. Heaving crowds of people waiting. Waiting for the outcome of various trials. Waiting for people to make decisions. Waiting for important people to arrive. Waiting while crosses are sorted out. Waiting for men to die. The people couldn’t do anything. Just wait.
Jesus could do very little. He is sent from place to place. Passed on and pushed around. The disciples can do nothing but hide and wait. It must have been awful. And then Jesus has to wait for his own death on the cross, wait in torturous pain. And when he is dead, the disciples can only wait, wait for their own pain of grief to become bearable.
Don’t we often want to be rushing around and make things happen, to be in charge and make decisions? But to have things taken out of our hands, out of our control, to have nothing we can do but wait … this is difficult. How do we face what cannot be changed? As Jane Williams says “we can all mature by accepting what we cannot change. As we look at the reality we are given, who knows what future we are being prepared for? If we choose to retreat from what we cannot change, to retreat back into a fantasy life, where we deny the reality of anything we cannot control, the chances are that we our making ourselves less and less ready to take up the next exciting challenge we might be offered.” ("Approaching Easter" p. 112).
We are waiting again here. We seem to have done a lot of waiting recently. Waiting in a Bunda police station. Waiting for news on the life or death of a young man. Waiting for a police officer’s decision, waiting for papers and forms. Waiting for a vehicle to drive. It hasn’t been an easy week; we have felt that things were taken out of our control… our new house (now looking uncertain), our car, our money supply, our water supply, our power supply…! But in it all we had to wait, wait and know that it was in God’s control. We felt helpless when we heard that Evelyn (Pastor Zakayo’s wife) was involved in an accident just days after ours. It was not her fault, but she hit a motorbike, and within moments was surrounded by many men on bikes, threatening her, pushing and rocking the car. She was able to drive into a nearby church compound and quickly get the guards to lock the gates behind her. As angry men shouted and shook the gates, as the man injured bled, she waited. Waited for police and her husband to arrive.
On Friday, we heard that the family of the victim wanted to see Tim straight away on Saturday to receive the condolence gift. This is nothing legal as no fault is involved, but simply an expression of our sympathy. But the family did not want to wait for Monday when Tim was scheduled to go to the police in Bunda to settle things. This was unexpected and we were worried about this meeting for different reasons. We thought that the times of negotiations were over, that things had already been settled with the family. But it wasn’t quite so.
Tim would be meeting the father for the first time. At first, after the accident, the father had been incredibly angry, thinking violence would ease his pain. But through the patient work of Bishop Charles, talking with him during the week, he admitted that however many people he hit, he would never get his son back. He was completely peaceful at the meeting on Saturday. So while it was all completely out of our control, it was in God’s.
As the girls and I waited at home, Tim went with Bishop Charles and Pastor Jovin to Bunda again. They waited with the local pastors for the family to arrive. Then, after a very difficult and long start to the meeting with high, unrelenting demands for money, eventually agreement was reached and all was settled with the family (with us temporarily in debt once again to the wonderful Archer family!). But it ended beautifully with the father expressing his desire for our whole family to go to his home with his family and share a goat together; he said that Tim was now his son.
But now we must wait some more. We thought that once all was settled with the family, that the police meeting was just a formality, to get the papers, passport and license. But to make a long story short, the police have said that Tim must go to court this week. We don’t know why or when or how much and again, it is out of our control. We can only pray for a just judge and a court without corruption. Without the papers, we must wait to get our vehicle back, and without an end to this case, we must wait for closure. But we wait knowing that God is in control.
When things are out of our control, it is an opportunity to see that God is in control. We have seen this so many times in the small ways that events have transpired during this week. I don’t need to try and make sense of it all; I can learn to be patient. I can realise reality as the disciples did… they, who thought they were vital to Jesus’ enterprise, realised, “since they don’t actually have a clue about what is going on, they can’t be as important as they originally thought… God has done something extraordinary without any help from them at all.” ("Approaching Easter" p.109)
After the resurrection of Jesus, after that time of waiting, the disciples were far less quick to speak and far more patient to wait for God; far more awed by Him. I hope that I can be like that after our time of waiting this Easter.