This Easter was unlike any I can recall.
Sure, I love Easter. Best day of the year!
Everything about this world, life, who we are and how we do it rests on one man, an incomprehensible sacrifice, and an empty tomb. I adore Him.
Most Easters consist of either being with the high school ministry in Mexico or celebrating at Big Valley Grace. It’s been years since there’s been any change in that. Until today.
All week, the Lord has been convicting, teaching, working overtime on me.
It hasn’t been the warm fuzzies. In fact, it’s been the total opposite.
Hard. Harsh. Tears. Conviction. Asking for a contrite heart and brokenness.
Eish. (As South Africans say.) Watch what you pray for.
I began the week being disappointed and trying not to sit in hurt and hold any form of a grudge. In the middle of desperately wrestling through forgiveness, I felt God saying “I want you to specifically do ____ for them."
“But Lord, I’m in the middle of explaining to you why I’m upset.
How can I possibly do that when they’ve hurt me?”
“Because I said so.”
So I begrudgingly obeyed. Feeling myself acting like a spoiled little child who stomps off to obey what she’s been commanded to do because she knows she can’t win this round.
As the week progressed, the Lord gave me several opportunities to love on several people I just didn’t want to. Over and over. I did it with a grudge. What I really wanted was to withhold myself from them until they saw the light of things. Until they knew how I was feeling about their actions. And THEN. THEN I might decide to love them well. If they earn it. But knowing this to be quite an unhealthy way of doing relationships, I obeyed Jesus. In the middle of all that, I heard Him tell me very clearly that I needed to expand my willingness to love selflessly and give until it hurts. Now that’s one of those concepts that we often talk about, but it’s been a long time since He gave me a serious opportunity to learn this through action. I fought that. I could handle being selfless and forgiving and even loving well someone who has been really affecting my heart. But to give to them until it hurts? That was a very sore subject for days. And I finally gave in, knowing it’s pointless to try to argue with Jesus. And besides, it’s something I knew deep down I needed to be re-learning right now.
This morning I was given another opportunity to lay aside what I wanted to do in the name of loving well. It was hard, but I knew the action itself is sometimes a physical act of forgiveness for us, so I stomped to it, mumbling grumpy things under my breath. And then thoroughly crying afterwards. (Hey. Forgiving someone doesn’t just make it all happy again overnight!) Then I went to church. And the pastor asked us if we’ve ever had to work at forgiving someone who didn’t even know they were hurting us. And how hard was it? He proceeded to remind us that Jesus did just that on the cross. His act was extravagant, totally selfless, forgiving, and giving until it hurt. (More than we’ll ever be able to comprehend.) He did all of this for every human-knowing how full of sin and ugliness and selfishness and rejection for Him we would be. Can you imagine?!?! I can’t! He did all of that. with full foresight!
And here I am whining about things that in comparison don’t matter one little iota. Can I live a life of generosity and extravagant love and forgiveness and selflessness? Without expecting anything back? Can I give until I am hurting and sacrificing, without it being tied to what the recipient will do for me? Freely and in joy? Perhaps without them even knowing what it cost? I have to try. Because my Jesus did it. And I want to reflect Him.
This year, Easter has been different. It’s been a good long look at the self-centered person inside. It’s been brokenness over the ugly thoughts and desires I can have. It’s been realizing I’ve barely begun to grasp what loving lavishly and extravagantly at all times looks like. And it’s been the knowledge that I truly don’t know what it really means to give until it hurts. But I have the perfect example. The empty tomb meant resurrection. New hope began. The world was changed. And He continues all of those things. It didn’t stop that day. He is always at work on beautiful resurrections of things in our lives, hearts, homes, families, relationships. He restores. He brings things back from the dead. He makes them beautiful and gives new hope and a new beginning. And He even changes our entire world. The empty tomb doesn’t just mean Jesus was raised from the dead. It means everything else gets to be, too.