I stood in the middle of the store and felt a deep sense of satisfaction: that’s the one. That’s her Easter dress.
Three generations of girls gathered that day at the American Girl® Place to celebrate a milestone birthday for my mom. It was a Saturday full of storytelling and laughter as we shared a fanciful meal with teacups and finger food. Imagination and giggles continued as we looked at display after display of dolls and clothes and doll-sized salons—a perfect girly kind of day.
I’d been on the hunt for an Easter dress for my youngest daughter. She was five and still willing to wear the clothes I picked out for her. Her older teenaged sister was not quite so willing. Covered in purple flowers, her favorite color, the hope of spring was woven throughout the dress’s fabric, even though snow still covered the ground outside. Maybe I had succumbed to the retailer’s marketing genius or was simply caught up in the magic of a little girl’s dream store, but the longer I looked, the easier it became to picture my beautiful little girl twirling in it on Easter morning.
Amongst the busyness and chatter, I purchased the dress and its matching doll-sized companion without my littlest one noticing. After a few more hours of adventure, we tucked everyone inside the van and turned toward home. My little one declared it to be the “bestest day ever” as she drifted off to sleep.
Growing up I often wondered about the significance of Good Friday and Easter. When I was little I knew it was a special day if only for the pretty dresses and decorated eggs. As I grew, I learned that Jesus died on Good Friday and rose again Easter morning. There were times when it felt more like a grand story than a personal experience filled with the wonder and joy of the resurrection. I began to long to fully embrace the promise Easter held. Little did I know how dear that promise would soon become.
The worst day ever soon stormed in just a few days after “the bestest day ever.” Fire destroyed our home and ended my youngest daughter’s life. Death crashed in, stared me right in the eye, and taunted me with despair. Instead of planning a day to color Easter eggs, I planned my daughter’s funeral. The very dress I chose for her to wear Easter morning became her burial clothing.
I tasted the bitterness of Good Friday anew that year. I felt death’s sting to the core of my soul. The loss. The brokenness. The hopelessness. The pain was real and deep and consuming. As I pressed into the sorrow, however, I began to realize there was a tenderness to it as well. The death of Friday didn’t last forever. A new day dawned and with its arrival came the silence of Saturday.
I’m not fond of silence. Having raised four kids and caring for numerous pets, my house had always been a lively one. When my little girl died, silence barged in and the sound was deafening. With it came fear, uncertainty, and sorrow, much, I imagine, like the people felt after Jesus died.
I thought about that long-ago day, the day the world went silent. Jesus’ body lay in a tomb, along with his disciples’ hope for a conquering king, so they scattered and despair set in. The waiting began. Would death have the final say?
Maybe in the silence of that Saturday the disciples remembered stories Jesus told and things he had done. Perhaps they remembered the miracles he performed, the lives he transformed, and the dead he had raised. For on that long-ago Saturday, his body may have lay silently in a tomb, but his ministry had not ended. God was still at work. I began to wonder if God did his greatest work when silence screamed loudest?
Could unheard hallelujahs resound in the silence as God’s plan unfolded? Hopeful hallelujahs? Expectant hallelujahs? Was it possible in the silence, as the sounds of this world ceased that his presence was more tenderly known and more keenly felt?
“Be still, and know that I am God!” Psalm 46:10, NLT
The silence of Saturday birthed a waiting and longing deep in my mama’s heart. I began to experience God’s mercy in the darkest moments through the truth of the resurrection of his Son, Jesus. He met me in my sorrow and began to change my loss to gain. My brokenness was restored. My hopelessness was replaced with promised glory, glory and strength for today, and a precious hope for tomorrow. He reminded me that while I might wait a thousand Saturdays, one day Easter will come, and Jesus will return.
It was in the silence of Saturday that I realized while I may not get to see my little girl here are on earth, her soul is very much alive. One day we will be reunited, never to be separated again. Why? Because of Jesus.
Jesus, the one who took on the sins of the world. Jesus, the one who bore our shame. Jesus, the one who willingly suffered and died in our place. Jesus, the one who was buried but brought to life again. Jesus, the one who conquered death, once and for all.
“This vision is for a future time. It describes the end, and it will be fulfilled. It seems slow in coming, wait patiently, for it will sure take place. It will not be delayed.” Habakkuk 2:3, NLT
So for now as I sit in the silence of Saturday, I continue to hear God’s gentle whisper, wooing me near. In the silence of Saturday, I press into the depth of love he has for me, even to the point of death. In the silence of Saturday, I offer my own hallelujahs, while I wait for the promise of Easter and the precious sight of my sweet girl twirling before the risen King.