He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Matthew 28:6a

Life can take turns we don’t expect. Sometimes those turns blindside us, catching us off guard and forcing us off the main road onto some narrow and treacherous wilderness path.

Relationships fail. Friends and family we always thought we could count on abandon us or alienate us because they feel betrayed or are apathetic to our pain. Lovers we thought would always be there for us change their minds and look for a ‘better offer’. Careers once thought secure go down in smoke.

Sometimes the biggest disappointments in life come from our own failures. Try as we might, we can’t kick the addictions. We struggle with lust. We want, so we spend money we don’t have to get what we don’t need and find ourselves buried in the canyons of debt.

Like the Apostle Paul, our life battle cry seems to be, “I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate.” Romans 7:15 (NLT) We strive so hard to be faithful, but worry and doubt when God doesn’t do what we were hoping He’d do. We try to be Christ-like in thoughts and words and deeds until that person, our nemesis, attacks us again and we retaliate. And with each brick of failure we build a wall that imprisons us and keeps us from experiencing the fullness of life.

And then, on those days when we aren’t beating ourselves into the ground there are those who are more than willing to point out our failures. They attempt to force us into their molds. They question our faith, our sincerity, our ability…and even our sanity! And we add another brick.

That’s why I believe in Easter. Easter reminds me that all of this isn’t about me. It’s not about the church I attend. It’s not about religious dogma and tradition. It’s not about these distinctives or that doctrine. It’s not about the songs we sing, the instruments we play or the name on the sign on the church I attend. It’s not about my marital status, my bank account, my credit rating or the past mistakes I’ve made.  It simply is NOT about me.

Easter, like life itself, is about Jesus. He left Heaven to live among us beggars and show us how to love each other as servants. He died to take the punishment we deserved and by so doing, to make forgiveness available to me. He rose so that someday I can go home to be with Him. I can’t wait. I love the beauty of this world but it’s nothing compared to what waits for me on the other side.

The longer I travel on life’s journey the more I realize that no one; NO ONE understands like Jesus. He has seen me through life’s darkest times. He’s been there when I’ve been abandoned and when I’ve ignored Him. He’s welcomed me back when I’ve rebelled and come back beaten and battered. He is, has been and will be a friend that will never, ever leave me.  He’s proven himself to be a friend that is closer than a brother.

PRAYER: Dear Jesus. My friend, my comfort and my protection. On this day, more than any other I’m reminded of how unworthy I am to be able to call You Lord. I bow before you in gratitude for all you have done in my life. For the times You’ve opened your arms to me when I’ve failed and comforted me when others have failed me. Thank you for forgiving my stubborn rebellion. Thank you for giving me second and third and forth chances. Thank you that I am your number one. Your masterpiece. That even though I feel like a failure at times You look on me with pride. Amen.

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