Easter makes me think. It forces remembrance. I think that is the reason I love it so much. I think I was born reflecting on something. If I’m not pondering, then check my pulse, I might be dead. Admittedly, this isn’t always a gift. It has given me a little trouble over the years. I’m learning, however, to own the curses of sentiment and over-thinking and use them under the Lordship of Christ. It’s a process but God delights in our process. He is changing us all along the journey. Hallelujah.
If Easter gives us reason for pause, to think and remember, it would stand to reason that it would be my favorite time of year. I absolutely LOVE it and always have. Christmas feels frantic and pressured. Easter gives me an excuse to pause and think. You better believe I’m all in for any excuse to do what I’m a professional at doing anyway.
Over the past weeks, I’ve tried to savor moments where I can find them. In the pace at which we live, days and days can go by and no quiets moments are ever found. The thinker in me starts to squirm after while…Anybody else? So, as this season has approached, I have given it my best effort to force some quiet, at any cost. The Lord has reminded me of much but here is the question that has given me lots to process as Easter approaches. Maybe you need to think about it as well.
-Where would I be without Jesus?
I’ll be honest, I don’t remember life apart from Jesus.(🙌🏼) I grew up hearing His name, speaking His name, finding refuge in His name. I remember hearing people ask, “What did your life look like before Jesus? Think about the mess you were before Him!” I stood there blankly, thinking, well dang. I have no testimony. I have no “before/after” picture. It’s not that I think I’m awesome…good gracious. I know I’m a mess. I know I can’t trust myself. I have had ample opportunity to screw up all along my life journey and tooooo many times I have taken full advantage of that opportunity. BUT, gratefully, I have never known that sinful mess of a girl outside of the continual work of Jesus in my life. Call it grace or blessing or even just luck….I don’t know what I call it. I have absolutely no idea why I’ve been spared a painful before and after. Let me tell you something though… There IS a picture of what I would have looked like without ever having Jesus. It’s a real picture and I need to see every now and then. This Holy season, for whatever reason, God has been gracious to help me step out of this prideful body and look at my sinful soul with a bit of a wider scope. He has been repeatedly calling out this question, “Where would you be if I had never rescued you?”
Last week, I visited one the most blatantly sinful cities on earth. I don’t even have to say it’s name and you won’t have a hard time guessing it. I had never been there before and while we had a fantastic time, I’ll probably not return too quickly, maybe not ever. However, I wouldn’t trade my trip there for anything. Besides having a great time away with my man, (which we don’t do often,) I now have lodged inside some really important truths that God was good to give me. He planted these things in me while I was right in the middle of “Sin City”.
This city loves it reputation. It loves to boast of its trappings. It is thrilled when people are captivated by its deception and lack of accountability. In fact, its motto is “what happens here, stays here.” No one has to know. No one will tell. Get this… No one actually even CARES. My husband and I kept laughing at the thought of us throwing away all inhibitions and truly thinking that no one would ever know. That what happened there would really stay there and would somehow just vaporize in that moment with no record of its existence. Hey friends, THAT’S RIDICULOUS.
Here’s what we know, the eyes of God roam the earth. What happens anywhere at anytime is seen by Him and all will give an account. What happens on earth doesn’t stay on earth…it is seen in heaven. He sees all, he knows all, and in seeing all the good and bad, loves us with unfailing love.While I was visiting this city, I was reminded that God was there. As His child, He was living within me. He was walking through the pit of “no one will find out”, with me.
Some tend to think that Christians should steer clear of pits of scandal and sin. That we should flee the other direction as fast as we can. I tend to agree. We human beings are just that, we are human with a tendency to wander and self-seek. I can honestly say it would’ve been easier NOT to see the pit. I’ve been trained my whole life through scripture to hate sin and flee from it. That is true, true, true. No argument here. I’m training my own children to do the same. If I’m going to be truthful, much of it made me uncomfortable.
But, can I just throw a little color into our black and white vision? As followers of Jesus, I believe it does us good to stare death in the face on occasion. We could stand to get a whiff of the stench of rampant sin. We need to see clearly that choice after choice we make leads us somewhere. No gets bogged down in the muck from one choice. It’s a repetitive choosing. Every once in a while, we need to walk the strip with its alluring lights, profanities, vulgarity, deceptive happiness and fleeting pleasures. Crazy? Maybe. But I needed it. I desperately need a visual of what I would be apart from my Savior. We need to remember where our heart wanders without His life-giving boundaries. I gotta tell you, as confident as my prideful heart can be at times…when you look intently at wake of sin’s path of destruction, you see clearly the what the Psalmist said is true, “You are my God. Apart from you, I have no good thing.”(Psalm 16:2) No good thing. God gave me a deeper reference and joy in Him standing on the strip in Las Vegas. He showed me where my life would be had he never rescued me from myself. When our lives have been spared by the one who created us, compassion for those trapped in the shackles should flow like a tsunami out of us. At one point, I actually got teary-eyed. My tears were of sadness for those who reject a God who desires abundance for His children intertwined with tears of grateful JOY that He has made a way for us to be rescued from ourselves.
It’s called EASTER.
Can we grasp this even in a small way this Easter? The pit of dung we would find ourselves in without His rescue. Selfish, self-reliant, self-promoting, covering our tracks, deceptive, prideful, unforgiving, indulgent on pleasure with no regard for dignity or consequences, perverting the gifts of God for our own selfish agendas. On any given day, I can start the slow fade towards those tendencies. I am so very human. But, something always cuts the slow fade off at the track in my wandering heart. You know what it is?? It’s a gift. It’s the Holy Spirit of God inside of His children. Sin doesn’t have to escalate in us. It doesn’t have to progress until it owns us like an addiction. We were bought and we are owned by something else. The blood of Jesus spilt on the cross and the power that rose a dead man back to life is what lives in each child of God. We are owned, alright. We are His.
I’m thinking harder and breathing more deeply this Easter. If you are a follower of Christ, I pray you will as well. We are not who we would have been without Him. Take a good hard look at death. Focus intently on what destruction looks like. Get a strong taste of the consequences of sinful disobedience to God’s perfectly, freeing design. Maybe you need to go to Vegas….Or maybe you just need to look within your own 4 walls. Whatever the case, let yourself see the depth of what your sin cost your Savior. It’s hard to grasp the cost of His sacrifice when we keep dumbing down the weight of our sin. Look closely at your sin, as painful as it may be, and feel the weight of it on His perfection. Then, breathe. He conquered it all. Because of Jesus, God sees you as He sees Jesus… as a son or a daughter. Friends, let’s not be afraid to look for Him in the dirt and mire. If we go there looking for Him, we will surely find Him there pursuing the hearts of those He longs to restore. If we go there, we might just witness the miracle of how He alone is able to bring life from death.
So, will you sit down for a moment and remember with me?
We are not who we would have been without Him.
Oh, the joy and freedom of that one, simple, life-changing truth.