April 25, 2017
So We Can Live! By Vickie Stam
"But he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed." NLT
He is Risen!
When I think of Easter's past, I'm reminded that the death and resurrection of Jesus didn't always mean what it means to me today.
As a child it was all about the Easter bunny sneaking into our home and sneaking back out without any telltale sign of him. Not a single hair or set of footprints was left behind.
I longed to catch a glimpse of the furry critter, see how tall he really was. Did he wear a suit like Santa? Why didn't he need any helpers? Oh... the questions. But I could never keep my eyes open long enough to have those answers revealed to me.
In the morning the only evidence of the mysterious bunny - was chocolate. I believed that the bunny had indeed brought me that delicious gift, the one that I was ever so happy to devour. Talk about faith! My mother told me that the Easter bunny had brought the treats for me. And I believed her. Faith like a child.
Back then it was customary for my mother to buy my sisters and I new clothes in honour of Easter. That special day always called for a new dress, shoes and white knee socks. It was an exciting time. "You have to look your best in church. Dress up for the Lord." She always said. It was the golden rule in our house, even though my parents didn't attend church.
During those years I could hardly wait for the Easter bunny to arrive. As for the clothes, my mother would often pick out something to match one of my sisters. It seemed to be a dreadful obsession on her part to have us look like the twins we weren't. With only 16 months between us she always managed to find something that matched even if they weren't the same colour.
Yes, my family had Easter traditions that I grew to love. Jesus and the Easter bunny shared that special day when I was growing up and it didn't seem wrong. I looked forward to it every year because that's what I knew.
In Sunday school I had learned that Jesus died on the cross and rose again. I wasn't sure what that really meant to me back then or how much I really understood. Like the Easter bunny's story, I was full of questions. Why would God want his son to die? Why are there bad people in the world? Did God make bad people? Even so, believing in God was easy. Once again - faith like a child. My Sunday school teacher taught me to love Jesus with all of my heart. And I did.
When I was a teenager, I stopped attending church. If only I could have seen the smile on Satan's face, the delight in his eyes when my focus shifted away from God. I had unknowingly opened the door for something bad to creep in. And evil slithered in. Satan tried to destroy my faith in Jesus. He tried to overshadow my life with doubt.
At the age of eighteen, I got married. My world instantly changed. I became a housewife and a year later, a mother. In the midst of some of life's hardest challenges I found myself drawn to the bible in search of answers. I had fallen away from God yet that childlike faith I once had was suddenly tugging at my heart.
In my troubles I had convinced myself that I deserved what was happening to me. I was certain that God was punishing me for the things that I'd done wrong. I felt as if God had abandoned me.
For sure, it had to be my lot in life. I questioned God. I was angry with God. Still, I would pull out my bible, sit in my favourite chair and silently read. Search the pages and yes - pray inside my head.
"But you, Lord, are a shield around me, my glory, the One who lifts my head high. I call out to the Lord, and he answers me from his holy mountain."
In my longing for answers I was drawn to his word.
When my burdens feel far too heavy for me to carry I try and imagine knowing the pain and strife that lies down the road - the things that I will face both near and far. I'm thankful that I do not know. But, Jesus knew he would die by crucifixion. He spoke about the death he would suffer. That's so hard for me to imagine.
So many things stand out for me at Easter. The one thing that is clear to me is that Jesus died and rose again but there's another one --
Mark 16:7 reads, "Now go and tell his disciples, including Peter, that Jesus is going ahead of you to Galilee. You will see him there, just as he told you before he died." NLT
Even though Peter denied Jesus three times. Jesus never abandoned him. ( "including Peter" ) I love this verse because it reminds me that Jesus will never abandon me.
His word answers so many questions, offers peace, love, joy and most of all hope.
"All of us, like sheep have strayed away. We have left God's paths to follow our own. Yet the Lord laid on him the sins of us all." NLT
As a child Easter meant, chocolate and Jesus. Today Easter is about understanding and believing that Jesus died and rose again - - so we can live.
Labels: Vickie Stam