A friend told me the other day, “Canceled plans are like crack for millennials.” I hadn’t heard that before, maybe because I lean Gen-X. But he’s a millennial, so it must be true! Comedian John Melaney also has a bit about how canceling plans is “instant relief” and “percentage-wise, it’s 100% easier not to do things than to do them.” Jokes aside, it’s hard not to feel a nugget of truth there.
Usually, conversations around these matters orbit around why we cancel plans (cue talks about introversion and social media). But I’m more concerned about plans that are canceled for us, by extenuating circumstances, with a tinge of a surprise to them. Why do those kinds of things often feel so refreshing, whatever generation we’re a part of?
An internet meteorologist I follow on Twitter helped shed light on this for me. He posted a forecast for rain, followed with: “I love a rainy morning sometimes. No pressure to save the world today. Just a good day to be lazy after a busy week.” His take, and I’d agree, is that unforeseen weather events lower expectations on us. They take the pressure off.
I used to spend a lot of time on the golf course. And as much as I enjoyed playing, getting rained (or, lightning’d) out would come with a sigh of relief, especially at a tournament, as there wasn’t any pressure to perform at a high level anymore. The stress of competition could wait for another day. “Until then,” the rain said, “go home and rest.”
The meteorologist’s tweet probably didn’t mean to dip its toe into the theological, but it reminded me of when Jesus, not long before his arrest, predicted his disciples’ flight and abandonment, saying, “The hour is coming when you will be scattered, each to his own home, and will leave me alone.” There’s something about the sufferings of Jesus that send people to their homes, literally and figuratively, like a sudden crack of loud thunder (Lk 12:54-56, Jn 19:27).
And there’s a reason for this. Every step that Jesus took toward Calvary made it all the clearer that he was accomplishing the salvation of the world on his own. Single-handedly. This is why it was so dark and stormy and even earthquake-y when Jesus was dying — because the cross is the loudest demonstration ever of “You don’t have to save the world today; Jesus already has.” It’s the great plan-canceler of history, for all ages and generations. It interrupts our efforts at saving ourselves and sends us to our homes — not onto great pilgrimages or perilous adventures, but to rest.
When it comes to salvation, it’s 100% better not to work for it than to work for it. And through Jesus, the one who makes it rain on both the righteous and the unrighteous, this is precisely the message the gospel brings to bear: the surprise rainstorm of the gruesome death of the Son of God gives shelter to the good and the bad alike, for it’s by his grace we’re saved, not by our works.