Thursday, April 21, 2011

Lets keep adding blessings to our memory list

Ask someone what is Easter about and what do you expect them to say? "Jesus Christ. His death and resurrection." Last night in Awana a little girl was asked this very question and her answer, "Jesus' birthday?" Do we just assume everyone knows what this day is in celebration of? As a young girl shared that her family really didn't do anything I listened intently. She shared how her family is always fighting when they get together. She added that they are either drunk or high. This broke my heart. Not only for this little girl, but it was at that moment I looked at myself. I thought, "Wow, that was me at eleven." I had no idea what Easter was really about. Easter eggs and bunnies. BBQ and fighting. Drinking. In my family there was always a celebration for drinking. The more drinking the better. This is heartbreaking for a child to have this as part of their memory. A memory that never leaves. But one we try to replace with others.

In asking the children what one of their fondest memories of Easter is, I shared mine. I had one upon my heart, but I just simply couldn't find the words to share to this group of young people. The one I shared? When our children were all at home and still young, we went to church on Easter. We had a beautiful cross service. We had two crosses on stage. A hammer and nails. As we sat in our pew, I closed my eyes as tears trickled down my cheeks. Just the sound of nails being hammered into these crosses brought me right to His throne. I could envision Him. I could for once see what Easter is. During this time I was praying for our children. It was my hope that they too could see. Our oldest daughter reached for my hand in tears. She looked up at me and said, "Rob, will you go with me?" We walked together. Each now holding a nail and waiting our turn to hold the hammer within our very hand. We knelt together, crying, worshiping the Savior who died for us. Who died for each and every sin. He took our sin upon Himself so that we could have life. For me, that is what Easter is. Looking to Jesus for hope. Leaving behind our sins and realizing our sin is upon Him. He paid the price with His life. A price that would be death for us, but because of His gift, we now have life. Life eternal.  He willingly took each and every sin. There is no love greater than His. I look back to that Easter Sunday and hold it dear. A sweet memory to always remember.

What did I want to share? Yesterday was the twenty fifth anniversary of my father's death. He has been gone twenty-five years. It doesn't even seem possible. Although so long ago, it seems like yesterday. It was on a Easter Sunday that I last saw him. It was on this day that I hugged my dad. It was on this day that my dad told me he loved me for the very first time ever. It would be just a few days later and he would be gone from this earth. There is good news though. Although his life ended here on this earth, one day I will see him again. He was saved just a few days before his death. I praise God for this. At the time I didn't understand. At the time I really didn't care. I was mad at the God I didn't want to know. I had no intention of ever talking to Him.

God on the other hand had different plans. He knew one day I would celebrate in a different way. He knew one day I would call Him Savior. He knew the pieces of my life would one day all come together and my eyes would see how He and He alone had orchestrated each and every circumstance to bring me to the day where I would accept Him as my Savior. Live for Him, and one day teach other young people who He is and why I choose to live for Him. He knew one day this little girl would sit in front of me and I would share my story with her. She may not realize it now, just as I didn't, but God has a plan for her life also. He will piece together each part for her just as He did for me. Hope.

In Christ we find hope. God forgave you for yesterday, so don't go back to it. God is with you today so don't sweat it. God's already in tomorrow so don't go looking for it. These words come from my friend, Heather Funk Palacios.

A young man shared with us one of his fondest Easter memories. He shared that his family had an Easter egg hunt each year. He said as his aunt placed Easter eggs all across the yard for the children to find she placed in each one something special. A cross, a thorn, and so on. Once all the children gathered these eggs, they opened them to find the treasures. Treasures of this day. Treasures of love. They all gathered around her and she shared the Easter story, bringing these children to the cross. For me, this was one of the most beautiful stories I have yet to hear. This young man will forever remember the loving kindness of an aunt wanting to show her family Jesus. He said he no longer takes part in the hunt, but now helps the younger ones find the eggs. I don't think this young man will ever tire of hearing the Easter story told by his loving aunt. We all need an aunt like this don't we? One who makes a difference.

We all have a story. We all have memories we hold dear. They may not mean much to others, but to us, they make up who we are. All across this land people will celebrate and all will celebrate in a different way. Through our life, through our stories we can touch the life of another. Isn't that just what Jesus did for us?

When I was young I remember my dad getting me an Easter bunny each and every year. He took me to the liquor store with him. As he picked out his beer for the day, he too picked out a bunny for me. Being a child, this was normal for me. There was no Jesus in this picture, but a daddy and his daughter. A daddy loving the only way he knew how and a daughter eager to accept his love. Sadly, this isn't the norm just for me, but for thousands across our land who don't know what this day really holds. It's not about bunnies and eggs. But we can use those small gestures to bring Jesus into the life of another. A chocolate cross with a scripture verse. A basket filled with trinkets of love.

When our children were little we hunted eggs. I made hand made baskets for each of them. They put on their new Easter clothes and went out into the windy cold to laugh and share in the hunt. Isn't that what we are all doing? We are all searching. We are hunting for something to make sense. We are searching for meaning. I am forever thankful I now know the meaning of Easter. I can celebrate this day with a new insight. Now that I have found the best gift of all, it is up to me to show others how to find this treasure. A treasure more valuable than any other. One that holds the key to life. A life of everlasting joy.

What memories do you hold? This is the first Easter for my grand daughter. Although she is not big enough to hunt eggs or really understand the meaning of it all. I can bring a smile to her face. I can begin sharing the greatest gift of all with her now so one day she will look back upon her childhood and find herself in memories of love. What about you? What will you do this Easter? Our story is not over. It's still being told. Add to your memory list. Create a new one. Allow Jesus to pour healing into your life. Forgive your past and give you hope for the future.


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