Jesus said to her, “Mary.”
She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means “Teacher”).
— John 20:16, New International Version
Imagine Mary’s thoughts as she prepared spices and perfumes for Jesus’ body. Perhaps she repeated to herself, “Concentrate. You can get through this.” It must have been very surreal, yet Mary focused on what had to be done. In Mark’s account of the women going to the tomb, which mentions Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Salome, the women asked one another, “Who will roll the stone away?”
I am an organizer. Color-coded lists give me great satisfaction. While those tools are often very helpful, my desire to have everything under control does not always serve me well. I must confess that too often I start creating and putting into motion my own plans before stopping to pray.
Such was the case while waiting my turn to get the first COVID-19 vaccination. I learned that my adult daughter was to have ankle surgery. That meant no weight bearing for six weeks, and she lives in a two-story house with the kitchen downstairs and the bedrooms upstairs. Immediately, I began to research what it meant to be designated a caregiver, and I composed messages on patient portals. I simply had to get vaccinated so I could safely care for her.
Within hours, but with absolutely no connection to my full-on Mom efforts, I received a text from the hospital where a couple of my doctors practice. I was a bit puzzled because I couldn’t find a message in the usual place on the website, and I was busy, so I went on to other things. Late that night, however, I decided to try again. I explored a couple of different locations on the site, and there it was: an invitation to get vaccinated two days later.
It took me a moment to realize what I was seeing, but my immediate response was “thank you, Jesus.” Yes, the hospital had sent out a mass message to many patients, and others might simply call this a grand coincidence. In that moment, however, I heard only the voice of Jesus, and I gave great thanks. God had answered the prayer I didn’t take time to pray.
Imagine Mary busy in full-on friend mode. Prepared to do the unimaginable task of preparing her dear friend’s body for burial, she encountered the empty tomb. The risen Lord was right there before her, but she did not recognize Him until Jesus called her name.
At Habitat for Humanity, part of our success comes from creating and implementing carefully thought-out plans. That is critical for any organization. But may we never get so immersed in our work and in our plans that we don’t hear Jesus call our names. This Lenten season reminds us to be alert so that when Jesus shakes things up, we are ready to follow Him faithfully.
Lord, we confess that we often rely on our own plans. We like having clear directions. Help us to accept the mysteries of faith and to trust You. Lord, speak to us in a voice that we will understand as we seek to live as people of the Resurrection. We are grateful that You know our names and that You show us ways we can demonstrate Your love in word and deed. Amen.
- What honorable tasks are busying your heart and mind this Lenten season?
- In what unusual ways have you heard the voice of Jesus calling to you specifically?
- How are you responding to plans that have been shaken up lately?
- What has ignited in you a deep desire to serve?
Pam Campbell is the executive communications services director at Habitat for Humanity International. She is based in Mount Juliet, Tennessee.