Back in the early ’90s I was pleased to tell my young children in the midst of a cold Chicago winter that they would soon warm up in the car much quicker, for the new Ford Taurus I would soon have had rear seat heat ducts. Their delight at my announcement made me feel guilty. I had not realized the initial cold when we got in the car bothered them so much. A few days later, the kids were obviously disappointed after our first trip. I asked them if they were still too cold in the back seat. “No, it’s warm enough, Daddy,” my daughter frowned. “But when do we get the duckies?”
For a long time I thought the Lord delighted in misleading me. He would tell me something true, but I would completely misunderstand Him, not realizing what He truly meant until what He had told me had already come to pass. Over time I realized what a great favor He has granted me. We are all such silly children, told something true and important – then eagerly looking for the duckies. We can be so arrogant, foolishly certain that we know God’s will, for He showed us what He intends – and we know what those other stupid kids don’t because we have a special in with God.
Jesus told His disciples what must happen in order for His kingdom to be established and all things set right. He told them about the victory He would win and what it would look like. They heard victory – and visions of titanic battles and noble feats of martial prowess filled their heads. They eagerly looked forward to the humiliation of the Romans as the new temporal Jewish kingdom arose. Ah, how delicious would be the smiting of their arrogant overseers! Today, Good Friday, is the anniversary of that battle being fully joined. It looked precisely like what Jesus had told them it would, but it sure did not look like what they had imagined. So they scattered in fear and despair.
If we all contemplated this with real depth and humility, we would be much less smug in telling the “unwashed” what Christ means. He always tells us true, but we always have to struggle to understand, often wildly misinterpreting His words. If you have a little humility – and a lot of trust – God regards your foolish misconceptions with as much affection as I remember my children’s disappointment that they did not get duckies. Moreover, wisdom will begin to arise as you come to understand how little you really understand – and instead of trying to lord your special knowledge over those around you spend your time and effort building them up and giving them hope.
From Good Friday to the Easter Vigil I am always queasily disconsolate. The crucifixes in Church are shrouded; the holy water fonts are empty…there is an oppressive somberness as I feel and ache over the absence of Christ. And yet, there is a great anticipation, for I know that Sunday is Easter. And there will be duckies.