Easter Sunday 2020 will be frozen in time for families all across the world. Everything we’re used to doing – our family traditions and faith-filled celebrations – are overturned and moved to the side, much like the rock and empty tomb that was discovered on the third day after Jesus hung on the cross.
What we expect is not what what we see.
Instead of getting dressed in our Sunday best and attending church, we are still in our pajamas at 11:45 in the morning watching a live stream Easter service on our television screen. We won’t have an Easter egg hunt at Pappy’s house and the large Easter meal we usually share with Grandpa Letter and extended family will now be a small meal for my family of five in our home.
As I sat here this morning, thinking about the miracle of Jesus’ death then resurrection and ascension into heaven, I was nearly overcome by the wonder of it all. Oh, to be one of the women who discovered the empty tomb! The confusion they must have felt. It didn’t made sense. It seemed impossible. And yet… there they were, speaking to an angel, their hearts “afraid, yet filled with joy” (Matthew 28:8). Such a paradox.
Miracles. Wonder. Joy. These are the words resonating on my heart this morning. To experience the heartache of the darkest of days – the brutal crucifixion of a dear friend, a treasured son, and then… wonder. Amazement. Disbelief. Belief. An answer provided that sparked more questions. The joy of hope that death wasn’t the final condemnation. That there might be more beyond what we could imagine.
I am not now, nor have I ever claimed to be, a master theologian. In fact, if I had to do a self-analysis of my faith I would probably fall more within the lines of having a child-like faith. I don’t always know why and goodness knows I can’t articulate it to others when questioned on the spot. I just believe because I do. I feel it in my heart.
I was not raised in a Christian home, but I had people in my life who attended church regularly. I didn’t become part of a church family until I was in my mid-teens and my Grandma Payne guilt-tripped me into attending the first service of a newly-created Evangelical Quaker church that was holding services in a local elementary school. I started going to church with her each week and one year later, during a summer bible camp at Malone College in Canton, Ohio, I professed my new-found faith to others, choosing to live my life as a believer.
My spiritual journey has been a bit unconventional, and my faith has been tested time and time again, but one thing that remains constant is the overwhelming wonder and awe I experience in my life. Sometimes it’s as simple as a delicate flower swaying in the wind that takes my breath away. Other times it’s overwhelming like holding a newborn baby in my arms for the very first time. When I allow my heart to open wide and feel the emotions pouring in, I discover my faith is stronger, my beliefs reaffirmed.
I believe in the good of the world because I have seen the good of the world. Maybe not with my own eyes each time, but often through the experiences of others.
I don’t have answers for why bad things happen. I don’t try to convince others to believe what I believe because I know that God speaks to different people in different ways (even those who don’t believe in God at all.) When I hear that quiet whisper on my heart, I share my thoughts and take action because it makes sense to me, not necessarily because it will make sense to others. My belief is wrapped in the awe of miracles, the wonder of the unexplained, and the joy that comes in the morning.
Take a few moments to think about the miracles of your world. They are there! Think about your life experiences, those things that have happened before that have brought you to the place where you are today. Nothing short of a miracle, I would surmise. I think about my travels, my journey into motherhood, and the adventures throughout my career as an educator. WOW! So many miracles!
That’s when the wonder wraps around me like the warm beams of sunlight from above. Do I deserve any of these blessings in my life? Oh, goodness, no! So undeserving. But yet… here I am. I have a stable home filled with the laughter of children. I have a pantry with food and clean clothes to wear each day. I live in a country where our freedoms extend beyond basic convention. Even in times of a national quarantine, I am caught in the wonder of what I have and the opportunity to share my purpose and passion with the world.
Friends, there is joy to be found, not just on Easter Sunday, but each and every day we are alive! Some days the joy might be harder to find, but it’s there if we just look past the negativity and strife.
Do you have any huge boulders in your life blocking the light from shining through? Perhaps you are trapped in the tomb of indecision or paralyzed by the fear of the unknown? The weight of the world may be so heavy on your shoulders that you simply cannot take another step forward.
It’s OK. You are not alone. Lay down your load. Stop and take a breath. Instead of focusing on the rock that’s blocking your view, focus on the miracle of that little sliver of light shining through.
Because one day, when you least expect it, you’re going to wake up and that rock is going to be rolled away.
And the miracle of that transition will wrap your heart with such wonder and joy that it will take every ounce of self-control not to shout it to the world.
One day soon, we will not be stuck in our homes for a mandatory lockdown.
One day soon, we will be allowed to gather again, with friends, families, and those who matter to us.
One day soon, we will leave our tomb of entrapment and discover the miracle of life beyond that which we knew before.
One day soon, we will be whole and complete again.