For about five years now God has used women and girls named Mary to impact me. It's sorta weird. It started with an eleven year old girl in Africa whose story changed my life and most recently was a "patient" I took care of in the middle of the interstate after she was ejected from a van.
Today it was Mary Magdalene. The controversial one. The one more speculated about than perhaps any other. The one whose role we don't really understand except that we often see ourselves in her.
My pastor read from John 20 this morning and I think Mary impacted me differently than she ever has. It's after she sees that the tomb is empty and she is so wrapped up in her emotions, stress, frustration and perhaps anger that she doesn't even recognize Jesus in front of her.
"(the angels) said to her, 'Woman why are you weeping?' She said to them, 'They have taken away my Lord, and I don't know where they have laid him.' Having said this she turned around and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, 'Woman why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?' Supposing him to be the gardener she said to him, 'Sir if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him and I will take him away." Jesus said to her, 'Mary.'
Then she gets it. He says her name and she hears Him. She hears Him and she sees Him.
Then Jesus tells her, 'go.' He sends her to tell others.
Mary reminds me so much of myself here. I am often so caught up in my own stress, confusion and agenda that I miss the Jesus standing before me.
My speech to the gardener as of late has been, "But what should I do? I could take this great job in Atlanta or I could join Doctors Without Borders. What if I just quit my job and move to Haiti, that's what I really want to do...I mean, there is a reason I'm a trauma nurse. But what about HIV patients? I've thought I was supposed to work with them since I was fifteen. I could be a camp nurse for the summer so I have more time to figure it out, and weekends off...Or should I just stay in Macon and take that job at the clinic? I could help plant that church in Milledgville! I have five years of memories there...But I really wanted to be a nurse in Africa...I didn't go to nursing school to be a nurse in the US..."
"Go. Just go and tell people that I have risen. Forget what you're worried about and all the things stressing you out. Forget the stuff that you think matters so much. Just say to them, tell them that I have risen. It's all that really matters."
The gardener Jesus listens to me whine about my life as Mary stressed that the body was missing.
The gardener Jesus just wants me to tell them. Tell them that it's true. Tell them that He did die. Tell them that the tomb is empty. That the curtain was torn. That He is Risen.
Tell them that nothing else matters.