Easter was particularly meaningful for me this year. I’ve spent quite a bit of time in the New Testament letters for my Wednesday morning Bible study this year, and over and over I’ve been struck by the centrality of the Resurrection to the Gospel story. As Paul says in Corinthians, without it, our faith is completely in vain.
We have several friends who have lost baby children this past year. In my imagination, I picture all of our little ones running around Heaven like the Lost Boys of Peter Pan, climbing trees and causing mischief (the completely holy kind, of course). On Wednesday of Holy Week, one of these boys would have turned one. On that same day, another baby boy joined them.
I attended the memorial service for this baby on the Saturday before Easter. I marveled at the perfect timing for this event: Easter Saturday is where we live so much of the time. Like the disciples, we’re overwhelmed by loss, we’re bewildered because Death seems to have won, and Jesus our Hope seems to be missing.
This year we took Abby to see an outdoor Passion Play, and after Jesus was placed in the tomb, she kept asking loudly, “Where’s God?” And isn’t that what we all want to know? When we’re in the Valley of the Shadow of Death, it’s easy to think that all is lost.
But Easter comes! We know what the disciples did not: God was never lost, God was never overcome. And because of that Sunday, we can think of our boys with hopeful smiles, we can joyfully prepare for new babies to be born, we can put our loved ones on airplanes and drive our cars across town: we need not fear, because we know: to live is Christ, to die is gain! “Death has lost its sting” because we know it is merely a doorway.
Stephen and I flew to Kentucky and back last week. As the plane hit some turbulence and my mind jumped to my likely imminent death, I considered words from a message I had just listened to: “If my work on earth is finished, why would I want to stay around? And if God still has a reason for me to be on this earth, I will not die in this moment.” Of course there are reasons I’d like to stay alive until I’m old. But death holds so much hope and promise, I don’t have to fear it. It’s only the ones on this side of eternity for whom death causes any sadness.
I’ve lived so long with shadows of carjackers and molesters and what-ifs hovering over my consciousness, it’s mind-blowing to consider what it might be like to live without fear. But if you press into the idea of a sovereign God hard enough, that’s where you will find yourself. Not jump-off-rooftops or leave-keys-in-the-lock recklessness, but empowering, confident fearlessness.
In my mind, it’s easy to slip back into thinking I’m stuck in Easter Saturday. But I think I’m starting to learn to live in the truth of Sunday.