Easter... a very special time of year. It reminds us that warmer weather is arriving after the long winter’s cold, and spring is beginning to show its colors! It’s a time of renewal as plant life exemplifies rebirth by poking through the covering of a late snow, leaf buds begin to swell and emerge from their long winter’s sleep, and early flowers showcase their gorgeous colorful blooms.
It’s a special time for children as they have fun decorating eggs, enjoy the search for hidden eggs to fill their baskets, and savor scrumptious chocolate treats and marshmallow peeps. I also remember a time, way too many years ago, when it was fashionable to buy a new spring dress and white bonnet for Easter service at church.
But, there’s so much more to the meaning of Easter. Each year I am reminded again of all that took place about 2000 years ago. That precious little baby whose birth we celebrated just a few short months ago grew up with a purpose. As my husband’s niece, Rebecca, once said, “That God would become a man and understand our struggles on earth just blows my mind. [That’s] true humble love.”
To be loved, and to know you are the object of that love, is an exhilarating and overwhelming feeling, while also giving you a sense of security. You know beyond a doubt to whom you belong.
Yet, in contemplating God’s love, I sometimes find it hard to think of such unconditional love for me... After all, what about that little thing I did? Was it really wrong? Maybe I can just excuse it away. What about the unkind words I said? Will my family, my friends, or even God, forgive me for certain mistakes I’ve made? I know He has, as have friends to whom I’ve apologized over the years. But, what about the bigger mistakes? How could God still love me when my temper flares… again…? What does He see in me? I can never measure up… Well, actually, none of us can. So, why would God care so much for me… for each of us…?
That One man who was perfect would willingly take my unworthiness, my shame, my heavy load of sin, and endure the penalty of the cross, just for my soul, is overwhelming. I cannot repay such a debt! But, wait… I don’t have to? My debt is paid in full? Because He freely gave His life that I might live, all I have to do is believe and accept His gift? Because Jesus loves us that much? Now that’s true love!
I am reminded of Johnny Hart’s “B.C.” cartoon column. He was a good friend of my husband’s Uncle Mart and Aunt Tilly and family in Ninevah, New York, members of the same Presbyterian Church where Hart also taught Sunday School. How succinctly Hart put the thoughts of this holy week into perspective in his comic strip:
“I hate the term, Good Friday.”
“My Lord was hanged on a tree that day.”
“If you were going to be hanged on that day and he volunteered to take your place, how would you feel?”
“Have a nice day!” [Johnny Hart in B.C., 04/09/03]
Which brings to mind a similar thought-provoking cartoon I had also saved years ago from “The Wizard of ID”, a joint venture written by Johnny Hart and Brant Parker, illustrated by Parker:
Friar: “Happy Good Friday Sire!”
To which the king grumbles: “What’s so good about it?”
The friar replies: “It took an act of God, but they finally found somebody willing to die for you.” ...leaving the king speechless. [Copyright Creators Syndicate Inc.]
After the brutality and agony of Jesus’ crucifixion and death, His friends are devastated. Yet, envision with me the beauty of an early morning sunrise. Birds are beginning to sing as the sun’s first rays appear. The dew has settled gently on the flowers in the garden as they open their buds to the sun’s warmth. According to His disciple Mark (ch.16:1), Mary Magdalene, Mary (the mother of James), and Salome quietly arrive at the tomb with spices for their beloved friend and teacher who died a horrible death on a cross… only to see in astonishment that the great stone has been rolled away. Upon entering, they see the tomb is empty except for the burial cloths folded neatly. They are already sad, but now are very afraid.
Suddenly, two men stand before them in brilliant light. Knowing their fear, an angel speaks gently to reassure them. “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples…” (Matthew 28:5-6) Trembling and bewildered, but joyful, the women run from the tomb. Despite their confusion, what unspeakable joy they must feel as they run to tell the disciples!
And to think that with a simple child-like faith in Jesus who gave His life for me… for each of us… we can be forever in His presence. What pain there is to realize that I fall short of His tender love every day. But what joy in humbling myself to recognize and confess my sins, and to ask for forgiveness for the errors of my ways from those around me and from my Lord, and then to feel their forgiveness… as the Lord’s love and peace with mercy and grace surround my soul. That’s what Easter is all about… God’s great love! Hallelujah!! What a Savior!!
Besides… I love you!
Linda A. Roorda
Who am I? My soul doth ask.
What am I worth? And to whom?
I see only failure as I take the reins
And do not give my Lord the lead.
How can you love the me who I am
When all I see are my struggles?
Yet, Lord, You do love even me
In ways that I cannot comprehend.
To sight unseen You guide my path
Ever at my side, gently calling.
And as you wrap loving arms around
You cover my soul with tender mercies.
For You opened wide Your arms on a cross
Giving Your life that I might live,
And in return You ask for my love
With all my heart, my soul and my mind.
But you didn’t stay within that tomb
For on day three You rose from the dead.
Seen by many, in the hearts of more,
Eternity waits Your Gift of Love.
Where once I felt the crashing waves
That overwhelm and burden my soul,
Now peace and joy have filled my heart
With love to share for those on my path.
Your presence surrounds me with Your peace
As You offer grace to light my way,
And then I hear You whisper soft
Besides… I love you!
A Happy and Blessed Easter to all!
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