It was still dark when I stumbled into the kitchen to click on the coffee maker. “Bundle up and sit on the porch and listen to the birds”, my husband called out as he was leaving for work. I love that he makes sure I don’t miss the best things; a full moon, the rose bush blooming or morning birdsong.
A chilly breeze blew across the porch and I smiled as the new day dawned; cardinals chirped joyful songs; robins reminded me of all-things-new. I breathed in deeply. Praise you Lord Jesus! If I don’t praise him, the rocks will cry out in praise (Luke 19:40).
When I was a little girl, Jesus and Easter didn’t make much difference to me. What I remember most was the annual trip to Gayfer’s to shop for my Easter dress. Of course, the basket and candy we’d find on Easter morning, as well as the egg hunt put on by Daddy in the back yard—those ranked high on my list.
I’ll never forget the fuchsia, lavender and pink hued azaleas that filled our yard and city, Mobile, Alabama. My fondness has grown exponentially over the years for that particular flower. I once scorned it for trapping us in the car for hours as Daddy drove through the city while Mama oohed and aahed over every bush.
I love spring—it’s my favorite; the flowers and trees, the weather, longer days and being outside. Now, I have a better understanding of Easter and how Jesus’ extraordinary sacrifice impacts my life.
It was on a springtime trip to the beach—I was 17—when I was introduced to Jesus through a chance encounter with Jesus freaks. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jesus_movement I was walking with friends when I saw the strange band of people. What struck me is how openly they talked about God and the Bible. I thought they were sacriligous. I’d never heard God mentioned outside of church, but they seemed sincere and that made me interested.
After my spring beach trip, I attended regular meetings with those Jesus people. On weekend nights we’d gather in an old house in Mobile, the Koinonia House. We’d sit on the floor and sing along with an acoustic guitar and all manner of voices. What a strange looking bunch of people, but I relished my time there— I learned Scripture songs that taught me about Jesus. I had such a feeling of peace and joy.
I’d gone to church regularly all my life. I loved the beautiful historic Presbyterian church we attended. I would sit in the sanctuary and stare at the designs in the colorful stained glass windows. I sang as loud as my little voice would let me, from the choir loft, near the magnificent pipe organ. I was in the junior choir for years and had all the annual awards to prove it.
I would look around during communion and watch women bow their heads in prayer. I wondered what they knew that I didn’t know.
An empty feeling inside plus all my questions about God piqued my interest as I watched the Jesus freaks on the beach.
Six things stand out in my memory from that time:
- I sensed I was missing out on something and was drawn to what those young Christians seemed to have.
- They convinced me I could have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
- Jesus’ death on the cross, I was taught, acted as punishment for my lifetime of sins. In the Old Testament God’s people, the Jews, had an elaborate system when they broke the law to allow them to be forgiven, which involved blood sacrifices of animals. Jesus came to earth and established a new way to atone for sins (the New Testament). His death and resurrection took the place of the punishment I knew I deserved and created a way for me to know God personally.
- I prayed and asked Jesus to come into my life as Savior and Lord. I gave myself to Him, as best I knew how, and decided to follow and worship Him my whole life.
- After I prayed, God didn’t lock me in a room to keep me pure or stick duct tape over my mouth; He made me a completely new person. I got to start all over. I wasn’t instantly holy or perfect, of course, but from the first day I said yes, everything changed. I stopped hanging out with my wild friends and even turned down a date with a boy I was interested in. I got to know a lot of Christians who became my friends. I voraciously read my brand new Bible and underlined phrases with a red Flair pen.
- Sanctification—changing me on the inside to become more like Jesus— began and it has continued all these years. Being able to look back with a long view helps me to see just how much I’ve changed since I was 17.
It’s Holy Week. A time to remember the agony of the cross; Jesus’ sweat mixed with blood; His concern for those near Him, and His last breath with the words, “It is finished”. He carried the weight of a world of sin as He hung on that cross. He made a way for all mankind to be in a relationship with Him.
When Jesus died, His loved ones wept and grieved, still not able to grasp all the things He had told them would happen. When they visited the tomb three days later, Jesus was gone. They soon learned that he was alive and had walked out of the tomb on his own two feet. The next 40 days many people saw Jesus; the world would know he had truly risen from the grave.
Today, Covid-19 is shaking our world. Much of what was important to us a few weeks ago doesn’t seem as important now. Similarly, we are focusing on priceless things that will withstand the shaking. I’m praying for a quick end to the pandemic and its terrible effects, and also for millions to see Jesus differently for the first time, like I did when I was 17.
May a reformation come to each of us and may we be ready to tell others the good news of Easter.
Let us all be thankful that we a part of an unshakable Kingdom and offer to God worship that pleases Him and reflects the awe and reverence we have toward Him. (Hebrews 12:28)