Easter is Hope

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This morning I reread the Easter story from John 20:1-18. Picture Mary, John, and Peter running to the tomb, a mixture of nervousness and excitement filling their souls. What if the rumors are not true? But what if they are? Not being able to wait anymore, John sprints ahead of Peter. The tomb is empty. Jesus isn’t there. Confusion sets in, but the men trust and return home. However, Mary remains at tomb unable to contain her emotion. In her anger, she doesn’t even recognize Jesus until He says her name, “Mary,” getting her to stop and think. Her friend and her Savior, who she thought was dead, is standing right in front of her. She clings to Jesus so long that even He has to tell her to let go. And then she runs through the town exclaiming the good news of His return.

You know, those of us who are Christians have a personal relationship with Jesus too. He is our friend and our Savior. We may not be able to see Him, but we have felt His presence with us. Excitement and love should overflow from our hearts when we celebrate His return, because we know what it feels like to be in relationship with Him. What would that look like? It would be radical. And it might just move hearts to listen and receive.

This morning I took the time to reflect on the Jesus’s death and resurrection. I asked myself a few questions. What does the Resurrection mean to me? Why does it matter? Here are some of the answers I wrote down.

The Resurrection means I have VALUE. I once heard a speaker say that the Resurrection answers life’s two biggest questions: Who am I? And why am I here? I know that I am someone who Jesus loves deeply. I have worth, because He thought I was valuable enough to redeem. He chose to die a horrific death, simply because He loved me. As a result, my purpose is to be in relationship with Jesus and bless others as He blessed me. I want to spend time with the person who found me special enough to die for me. And I want to emulate His actions.

The Resurrection gives me PEACE. I do not have to be afraid of this life, because I know eternal life is waiting for me. This life on Earth is temporary, but Jesus’s death and resurrection made a way for me to live forever in Heaven. John 16:33 says, “I have told you these things so that in Me you have have peace. You will have suffering in this world. Be courageous! I have conquered the world.” Jesus has overcome. Do not fear. Victory is ours! 

The Resurrection gives me new LIFE. Each morning, God’s mercies are new. No matter how much I may have messed up or how far I may have fallen, I can run to Jesus and He will accept me with arms open wide. When He rose from the grace, He took away my sin. I can do nothing to erase His grace – Jesus has already given it freely. 

The Resurrection means I have HOPE. The world is fallen. I am fallen. But good will win! The angel told the disciples, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up into heaven? This Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come in the same way that you have seen Him going into heaven,” (Acts 9:11). We have hope knowing that one day Jesus will come back and make everything right. He will defeat evil, once and for all. In the meantime, we should stop looking at the sky waiting. Instead, let us share that hope with others. We may live in a hopeless world, but we have the answer to give others relief. 

Value. Peace. Life. Hope. What does the Resurrection mean to you? Why does it matter in your life? 

Tomorrow when we celebrate the gift of Jesus’s resurrection, don’t be embarrassed to act excited. Don’t be afraid to tell others why you celebrate. And throughout the year, hold on to the hope of Easter that exists everyday for those who believe. 

– – Phebe

Out of the Water

Does God ever blow your mind? Like blow it completely out of the water you called safe and comfortable. Because when God blows your mind, He takes your life to a whole different level. But you end up finding out that this new, risky place where you end up is exactly where you want to be. 

God has been blowing my mind recently. His goodness is abounding. I’m not saying that life has been perfect, because it is nowhere near perfect. Yet I am perfectly content with the place that I am right now. The adventure that God has been taking me on is so worth the craziness that exists alongside the ride.

God has been blessing me with an abundance of His love and generosity. I am seeing it in my friendships, my family relationships, my dance project, my youth group, even my schoolwork. He has been answering my prayers, the big ones (like the success of the “There’s No Place Like Home” dance concerts) and the small ones (like going to senior prom). 

My friend Ellie texted me yesterday full of excitement about the weekend ahead, and her excitement began to rub off on me. I suddenly began to look around at my life and see all the wonderful things that are happening. And this morning I chose to enjoy each little moment, the place that I am right now. 

I spent the morning making chocolate covered strawberries for a fundraising tea party tomorrow. While my lack of artistic ability and productivity frustrated me, I decided that it was OK to spend a morning doing something fun and creative rather than schoolwork. This afternoon I had to rush to get ready for our second dance concert, because the venue was over a half hour away. But I was able to spend the long car ride connecting with one of my best friends and laughing about the drama of senior year. The weather was absolutely beautiful today, and because our director was late, we had some extra minutes to enjoy the sunshine. 

We ran behind all night during our final dress rehearsal, as usual, but everything came together last minute, as usual. The concert went beautifully, and God once again blew my mind with his faithfulness and generosity. Afterwards I had the chance to connect with some dance alumni, who affirmed our senior vision and concert. The evening concluded with delicious late night barbecue and a car ride full of worship on the drive home. 

Yes, God is good. He continues to astound me with his blessings – the way that in the midst of stress and busyness He reminds me “I am still sovereign.” I think He likes to please His children, to take them beyond what they need sometimes and give them what they want. The success of the senior dance concert is just one evidence of this truth. We were taking a risk, but it was worth it. Our first performance alone, we raised over $2000 for Abide Family Center. We were humbled and awed, but come to think of it, that’s just in God’s nature. He often takes us through the valley so that the mountains are just that much more incredible. 

Sometimes we feel like a fish out of water, with no place to run and hide. But it’s in those risky moments, when we are fully dependent on God for life, that He tells us “I’ve got your hand. You are exactly where I want you.” The journey could not be more rewarding.

– – Phebe