I had plans for this day. Yesterday I'd looked through the newspaper flyers and found a sale on a little children's picnic table I'd been wanting to get for my grandchildren. At a very good price.
"Sale starts Friday," the flyer said. Good Friday.
This was a store famous for running out of sale items ten minutes after the store opened on sale day, so I made my plans: wake up early and head for the store before someone else gets my picnic table.
I woke up this morning, happy about my day. Several items I needed were on sale, and I was going to get some good deals. I had a bite to eat and sat down for a sweet quiet time with the Lord.
Reading in John 17:19-20, I was touched by his prayers for us: "I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours. All I have is yours, and all you have is mine." Then, in the garden, his prayers for Himself: "Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done." (Luke 22:42). Then, he left the garden for the cross. Not his chosen plan for the day, for sure.
By the time I had left that amazing world of Jesus' life and death, my shopping trip seemed out of place. Incongruous, somehow. On that first Good Friday, I'm sure many people went shopping. They wandered among the booths in downtown Jerusalem, squeezing the fruit, haggling over prices, then plunking their treasures in their baskets and heading home, satisfied with their bargains. It would have been business as usual for many of them.
But others didn't go shopping. Instead, they followed a bleeding man, who walked up a hill, stumbling under the weight of a heavy wooden cross. Those people missed all the bargains that day, but they ended up being eye-witnesses to the most incredible, the most significant event in the history of the world.
I pondered the loss of what I would miss if I didn't go shopping. Maybe the picnic table would still be there on Monday. It didn't really matter. I'd lost my taste for sales today. I put my list away and turned to other things.
* * *
In a few minutes my five-year-old grandson comes up from his family's apartment downstairs. We sit down to open up, once again, the carton of plastic Resurrection eggs I'd found at our Christian bookstore earlier in the week. Our grandchildren delight in this little, newly discovered, Easter ritual.
Each egg holds a small treasure. The first, a tiny donkey, a symbol of Jesus' ride into Jerusalem. The second, a few silver coins, the price Judas received in exchange for Jesus' life. (A real bargain, as it turned out.) The third, a cup, representing the one Jesus had asked his Father to take away, but had ended up drinking instead.
The next egg, the praying hands, represents Jesus' prayer in the garden.
"Wait," my grandson says, "If Jesus is God, how can he pray to God?" Good question. So begins a little discussion on the nature of the Trinity, at a five-year-old level. (This is, of course, the level at which we all carry on this particular discussion.)
"It's a mystery," I explain. "God didn't give us heads big enough to understand how he can be one God and three persons at the same time. We just have to trust Him."
The little face looks up at me, eyes bright with the wisdom only a child possesses, a small smile on his face. "Maybe when we get to heaven we'll have heads big enough to understand," he says.
I didn't go shopping today. I walked up Calvary's hill instead, hand in hand with my grandson. I tremble to think what I would have missed if I'd been in the store this morning. God had a much greater gift in mind for my grandchildren than the one I had my eye on. A much greater gift for me.
It's been a very Good Friday.