So many things went wrong on Easter.
It was wonderful 🙂
Before you question my sanity and whether I suffer from a type of bi-polar disorder or sadistic guilty pleasure, allow me to explain. Sunday morning I woke up and my arms were creaking and cracking from the tightened sunburn covering my arms and face and, as I quickly discovered, my legs. I did my devotions before jumping into the shower, and while I was doing my devotions, I sort of became frustrated, almost nervous.
I realized, as I let my mindset for the day settle into my brain, I was getting so concerned about how I was going to look and how everything was going to work out, that I was focused on the busyness of the day rather than why it was busy in the first place.
I prayed to God, being completely honest with Him, since He knows my heart anyway, and I wanted to tell Him everything that was in it. I wasn’t going to pretend like my puny human brain could even begin to truly comprehend what Easter meant for me, to God, for the world, past, present, and future. I wasn’t going to pretend like I wasn’t excited about getting dressed up and looking beautiful and hearing my narrative read in church. I wasn’t going to pretend that I wasn’t tempted to stay home all day and sleep because I was so absolutely exhausted from the activity of the day before. I wasn’t going to pretend that my body wasn’t aching from sunburn. I wasn’t going to pretend like I wasn’t confused and frustrated about certain situations. I wasn’t going to pretend that everything was hunky-dory and that I wasn’t experiencing worry about the future, about homework, about purpose, about people, about myself, about my relationship with Him. I wasn’t going to pretend that I wasn’t afraid of the day reigning superficial, being “just another Easter Sunday.”
But I did understand, with absolute confidence, that I know God loves me. I did understand that, above anyone and anything else, I want to spend time alone with God, because He’s the One who’s stayed the same, never walked out, always told me the Truth, even when I didn’t want to hear it, sent me a beautiful spiritual bouquet of encouragement on a rainy day, saved me from myself and convinced me the darkness is bad and that enemies are a real thing for me as His adopted daughter. I did understand that God had blessed and will continue to bless me beyond all understanding, especially my own. I did understand that I just don’t understand His love, I don’t understand why He separated His son from Himself and went through such incomprehensible agony as to give me a chance with Him, even though He’s completely out of my league in every way imaginable and every way unknown to man.
My World Literature professor often subtly mocks Christianity when he says “They (Christians) say God is incomprehensible, which is why you should worship Him.” But I have to wonder if he has any idea that what he says is true.
God’s ways and His love don’t make sense, and His world is a place that I don’t understand, but these are things He wants for us: clarity, peace, knowledge of Himself. Isaiah 43:10 says “You are My witnesses,” declares the Lord, “and My servant whom I have chosen, that you may know and believe Me and understand that I am He. Before Me no god was formed, nor shall there be any after Me.” (ESV, emphasis added)
While I could say God initiated our reconciled relationship with Him at The Cross, I know the initiation began the moment God showed grace toward Adam and Eve once they betrayed Him, or maybe it began before the creation of light and darkness, before the void, before time even began.
I understand that I will never fully grasp the cosmic meaning of what Easter means. Because of my flawed humanity and my pathetic capacity to desire anything other than self-anything, I will never fully comprehend the Truth of God. It will always be slightly distorted, and I would be ignorant and arrogant to think I do understand it all, to act like I do.
I don’t want to ever get used to God. I don’t want to feel like I’ve had enough of Him. I want to know Him so much more, and I’m so painfully aware of how much more there is to learn about Him, how much deeper our relationship can go. And I am so excited 😀
After jumping in the shower, I pulled on my chosen dress and made myself up, skyped with my family (which was a pleasant surprise), and then headed out the door with Jenny.
People messed up singing, people weren’t where they were supposed to be, videos stalled, everybody was nervous. And I stood by the door, holding programs and standing in as a greeter, smiling, because I got it.
There was absolutely no room for humans to look perfect, no way for us to hide behind pressed clothing and good makeup and shined shoes and plastic smiles. God shined through the broken pottery, as it should be. While Easter Sunday is a great witnessing opportunity because so many people who don’t normally come to church came, we, as Christians, really can’t do anything unless it’s in God’s will anyway. It’s all on God and on His power…we’re just the instruments. Everything we do that’s good, anything we do that has meaning, that has power, is all from God. We are dust, and we are nothing without God’s breath in our lungs. So to see everything fall apart in little increments, and to see God shine through cooperation, understanding, and kindness, was beautiful.
I had read the account of the Resurrection in the book of John that morning. While I was reading it, I got overly excited, ecstatic. I remembered writing the narrative that was going to be acted out that morning. I felt the insanity of Jesus appearing as a GARDNER to Mary, and her realizing her Lord was alive, all because He said her name. Just her name.
My heart was beating out of my chest.
By the end of the second service, around one o’clock in the afternoon, I had goosebumps all along my arms, and it wasn’t just because of the air conditioning. There were tons of people in the church, but I had never felt so wonderfully alone in the presence of God in my entire life. The sun was streaming in through the windows, glinting off the pastels of dresses and skirts and silky scarves. Breathtaking.
A bunch of the single people were headed to Sam and Maria’s for Easter dinner. Rebecca, Grace, Edward, and I headed to the supermarket to get some things to bring for the dinner. Edward left us at one point to head home to spend Easter with a different group of friends.
While we were in the supermarket, we yelled across the aisles, knocked things off the shelves (on accident), and laughed. Everyone seemed to be in high spirits, not just us. Walking to Sam and Maria’s, the three of us startled a cat and it began bounding over the small iron fences that separate apartments, and while the majority of its show was graceful, it crashed face-first into a small, dead tree while trying to get through a fence. But then it recovered, which I think was why we all laughed 🙂
Dinner with all the people was so much fun. Adham and some of the other guys told stories. Rebecca and I offered sly comments and loud laughter. There was teasing and tackling and laughing and loving, and I felt at home.
A little while later I left to go to another Easter service at Redeemer with Edward, Juan (Edward’s best friend), Precilla, and their mutual friend Laura. I had left late, so I didn’t have time to grab a jacket, but I decided it would be okay, even though the temperature dropped with each inch that the sun set.
I met up with them and the five of us headed to Redeemer. While nothing would ever compare to earlier that morning and the time with Sam and Maria and all of my friends, the message at Redeemer was empowering, and reminded everyone of who Jesus really was. The same question I’ve been asking myself all weekend was the main part of the sermon: “If Jesus really did rise from the dead, if what happened three days after His death is really true, then what does that mean?”
We left the service and went to Coffee Hour, grabbing cups of hot tea and napkins cradling cookies. Laura was so kind and gave me her jacket (she had an extra one underneath) so I wouldn’t freeze to death when we went outside.
On the subway ride and then bus ride home, I nearly dozed off, and decided I would stay one more night at Jenny and Rebecca’s. But when I arrived at the house and had departed from my group of friends, I decided I really needed to get back to campus and look over my term paper again, see if I can get some more work done, be productive. So I changed into warm clothing, packed up my bags, and (because nobody was really home, I couldn’t say good bye and thank you :/) headed to the subway. It was late, and you might think heading out late at night while carrying a duffel bag, a purse, and a jewelry box given to you by a friend would be naive and just screaming for trouble…well, you’re right. Thankfully, nothing happened. I didn’t get mugged. I arrived at my dorm unscathed and un-harrassed.
I took my Bible study into the lounge and spent an hour or so with God, just talking to Him, diving into His word. I craved time with Him, even though my body was exhausted and my mind was incapable of coherent thought. The time alone with Him was much needed, and I wanted to go to sleep so I could wake up and spend time with Him again.
I slept like a rock.
God does this thing where He uses my doubts and fears to draw me closer to Him instead of letting Satan use them to push me farther away. I handed in my term paper. There’s nothing more I can do. God is good. My assignments for the week are lined up and ready to be done. God is good. It’s sunny today, but it might be rainy tomorrow. God is good.
Three more weeks.
Here we go.
“It is a blessing for us that, as sin lives, and the flesh lives, and the devil lives, so Jesus lives.” —Charles Spurgeon