Monday, March 28, 2016

The Hope of Easter

Easter - 1981

This is one of my favorite photos from my childhood, not that I have that many to choose from.  There is so much going on here: my Princess Lea braids, Wonder Woman under roos, pink housecoat, my favorite Mary Janes... and that classic 80's Easter basket, still wrapped up in cellophane.  I'm standing on the front porch of my great-grandparent's house.  I don't remember much else about Easter as a child, only these inflatable bunnies that the stores used to carry and the way we'd always pose for pictures near the lilies in my granny's garden.  Looking back, I suppose I knew what Easter was - what it really was.  I assume they told me, but it did't have any real relevance to me.  Maybe I could've told you that it was the day that Jesus rose from the dead, but I didn't really know what that meant or why it mattered.  And I wouldn't know for a long time.  

Fast forward thirty-five years.  My own children are now well past the age that I was in this photo.  It's a gray and rainy Sunday morning and my whole family is still asleep.  Easter falls early this year, the same week as our Spring Break and to be honest, I haven't given it much thought.  I have no idea what any of us are wearing, I have no idea what we're having for lunch, we haven't even packed for the trip we are leaving on tomorrow and I woke up overwhelmed.  Only not by any of those things.  It caught me off guard, this awe.  I turned off the alarm and let the dog and cat out into the back yard, suddenly aware of my own life, my own ... aliveness.  

Because He lives, I live.  

And the passage from John 14 wells up in my heart.  Jesus, comforting His disciples before His death, tells them:  "Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live" (John 14:19).  


I don't know if they got it right then.  You know, they regularly did not.  Kind of how I really did not for the first thirty-some-odd years of my life.  I knew the story.  I knew the scripture.  I could tell you what Easter was - and is.  Likely, I told my children the same as I'd been told, of the cross and the resurrection, but it didn't have any relevance in my life.  Not really.  

Because it wasn't that long ago that this life, my life, was dead in sin and darkness.  You know, the kind that you don't see on the surface or in the pictures we post on social media.  It was a life ravaged by divorce and darkness and despair.  It seems like a lifetime ago most days, but this morning - the mercy and redemption feel brand new.  All over again.  "He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand" (Psalm 40).

This life, my life, even this Easter morning - is far from perfect.  I am just as human - and sometimes, just asut it is filled with more joy and peace and hope and abundance than I ever knew possible. "I came that they may have life and have it abundantly" (John 10:10). 

If you're like I was or where I was, if you've spent your life only knowing OF Him and never really knowing Him, approach His throne of grace and find mercy. 

His word tells us that we do not have a "high priest who is unable to empathize" but a Savior - "So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most" (Hebrews 4:15).

It was true for that little girl in the Wonder Woman underoos.  Whether you know it or not, whether you know Him or not - it is true for you, too.  

That is the hope of the empty tomb, the hope of Easter.   

Because He lives, I now live. 
Because He lives, you can live, too.

Oh, Praise the One who paid my debt and raised this life up from the dead.  Jesus.  


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