Saturday, March 22, 2008

Lessons from Easter

Easter usually brings to mind visions of sun, flowers, Easter egg hunts on a green lawn, and spring outfits. This year, as in much of the Midwest, I look out my window at snow clinging to tree branches. More a scene from Christmas than Easter.

Yesterday an early spring storm hit the Chicago area and points north, messing up flights out of O'Hare and other airports and preventing many from making their spring break destinations. Most likely places where the sun is shining and flowers are blooming.

Even so, God has used this not-so-appreciated reminder that this rough winter is not yet over to teach me some things.

Yesterday as I watched the brown grass disappear under the covering of white, I was reminded of a verse from Psalm 51:7 --

Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.

Isn't that what Christ's going to the cross has done for those who believe in Him? Just as the snow covered the brown grass yesterday, Christ's blood spilled on the cross has covered my sin for eternity. Eventually, the snow will melt in the warm sun and temperatures that are sure to come soon, but the covering of Christ lasts for eternity for all who believe. Only something as huge as that would be worth the cost He paid.

This morning another lesson hit me square between the eyes. The example of humility Christ gives us. In and of ourselves we are nothing at all, but IN Him we are everything.

For reasons unknown to me God has given me giftedness in areas of creativity. I have better-than-average drawing skills, a stronger sense of design and decoration than a lot of people, can put more than two words together in a pleasing way, and the ability to interpret music in sign language in a way that isn't stilted. I have acknowledged for years that these abilities are from God and not of myself, yet I have struggled often with pride. It's not easy to admit. There's that pride sneaking in again.

God opposes the proud and gives grace to the humble.
God hates pride.

With my interpreting in sign, He's given me certain abilities in that area, but at the same time I struggle terribly with the ability to understand when someone signs back to me. It's a frustration to the deaf people I interpret for as well as to me. Yet, I know if I could understand sign as well as I can produce it, my head would swell to the point of explosion. God has used my inability to read sign language well to keep me humble.

In my writing, I've faced far more rejection than acceptance. I've sold a few non-fiction works, but am still trying to sell my fiction. Just two weeks ago I received yet another rejection from a major publisher. I don't know how many times I've sent off my writing to a critiquer and thought the work really shone, only to have it sent back filled with corrections and suggestions on how to improve it. My character is unlikable, the plot sags, etc. etc. Talk about being humbled in a matter of seconds.

As I visualize Christ on the cross, resting askew on his head is a perfect example of humility.

A crown of thorns.

The King of kings, Lord of lords who deserves a crown filled with priceless jewels wears a crown made from thorny, barren branches. The sharp needle-like thorns pierce through His skin, allowing blood to trail over his brow. Who am I to think I deserve a better crown than He?

He went to the cross to endure excruciating pain. (The word "excruciating" when broken down means from the cross. A word to describe the horrible pain of crucifixion.)He took on that terrible pain for you as well as for me. Pain and punishment that should be ours because of our sin. Why? That we would be seen by God as forgiven, our sins made white as snow by His shed blood.

On a long ago Good Friday I sat on a church pew and listened to the scriptural account of the crucifixion and suddenly realized Christ did that for me. For the first time I was able to personalize those long ago events. I was humbled beyond words. It wasn't until years later when I looked back on that moment that I realized that was the day I became a Christian in the true sense of the word.

This year's Good Friday is over for another year, but it's never too late for anyone to personalize what Christ did on the cross.

If you've never done so, why not make this Easter the most special one you've ever experienced. Add something extra to that Easter outfit.

The best accessory I can think to wear is a symbolic crown of thorns on my heart as I bow before the King of kings.

What about you?

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