The spirit of Easter eluded me. Between a home construction project, a rather nasty bout of pain, and an impending trip for the holiday, I simply wasn’t feeling it. And of all places to go on this most holy of weekends, Sin City would not normally top my list of places to spend the holiday. For several weeks now, my mind has been skittering about on everything but somber reflection on what my gracious Savior did for me. For the sake of honesty I must confess I did not try very hard to get into the spirit of things. As I mentioned before, I wasn’t feeling it.
However, our God is much grander than my emotions. In His infinite goodness, he meets me in unexpected places, whether I am ‘in the mood’ or not. A couple of days before our departure, frazzled and in pain, I received some news that turned my heart around.
I was informed that an old family friend had died. Immediately, my throat swelled tight and my eyes began to fill. This friend of my grandmother was one of the warmest people I have ever known. He had stepped into her life at a time of great need, and he had been her rock for several years. We had not seen him for a time, as both he and my grandmother have declined cognitively in recent months and were placed in different homes.
As I thought about this wonderful man, I realized I was not feeling grief so much as excitement. I felt overwhelmed with joy at the thought of him hanging out with Jesus. I imagined him, youthful vigor restored, pain-free, and sound of mind once more. I could almost see his smile, and how it always reached his eyes, making them crinkle in the corners. And even as my heart felt tight and lumpish in my chest, I had the sudden urge to laugh.
I could envision my friend, talking a mile a minute, dispensing his warm hugs without reservation. If heaven weren’t already perfect, it would certainly have been made a nicer place with the addition of this man. My musings made me long to join him, and for a moment, I was undone. Not in a sad way, mind you. Rather, I felt a profound gratitude for this reality that will be mine as well. For a moment, my daily trials whiffed away like insubstantial puffs of smoke.
I grew up hearing bible stories, and somehow I had the impression of a defeated Christ on the cross who becomes victorious after the resurrection. This is all wrong. When our Lord said, “It is finished!” he was proclaiming victory, not defeat. He stayed on that cross just long enough to atone for all that you and I will ever do that is in conflict with a Holy God.
It is finished. The sorrow, disease, and death of this fallen world will see an end. One day we will actually get to hang out with Jesus! That is our hope and our joy, yes? My friend is already experiencing this and for that I am utterly delighted, if a little envious.
As I pondered all of this, I realized that the Easter spirit is not a feeling to be mustered up. All I had to do was to look past my daily self for a moment and imagine the unimaginable. To grab hold of the eternal hope I have in Christ and allow it to fill me with wonder.
Grace and peace to you, my friends, and a belated Happy Easter!