Saturday, April 3, 2010

Why I Love Easter

I love Easter.

The power of the Hope of the Resurrection means the world to me.

All that Jesus Christ did for me and you when He freely gave His life and died on the Cross as a sacrifice for our forgiveness humbles me and overwhelms me.

Every year at this time, I remember all over again how much it means to me that Jesus looks at me with all my faults and failures and still He loves me more than I can even comprehend.

The fact that Jesus would have gone to the Cross even if I was the only one ~and even though I didn’t deserve it~ is more than I can take in sometimes.

The mind-blowing power of His passionate, unconditional, neverending love for me and for you takes my breath away.

What Jesus did to conquer death when He rose three days later moves me to tears of gratitude every time I think about the Resurrection.

I HATE death.

I absolutely hate the heartbreaking, gut-wrenching separation of death. To say that death has a sting is putting it mildly for anyone who has suffered great loss.

I have hated death with all my might since I was a little girl only 5 years, 7 months and 1 day old. And Easter Resurrection Sunday has meant the world to me ever since then.

My small family ~ my little brother Craig and me and our parents ~ had been visiting grandparents in New Mexico that summer. Early in the morning on that fateful Sept. 5, we took photos outside my Grandma and Granddaddy’s house in eastern New Mexico before leaving to drive back to our home in the San Francisco Bay area of California.

Four hours later, still in New Mexico, my father lost control of the car on the highway.

My 26-year-old Mom Barbara and my 2-year-old brother Craig were killed almost instantly.

I remember riding in the back of an ambulance to a nearby medical clinic and then to a bigger hospital where they could stitch me up.

As a little 5-year-old girl, I remember going to the funeral home and seeing my Mom dressed up pretty in her casket and my brother Craig lying too still in his little one. I still remember what they were wearing. I remember telling my father we needed to bring Mom some earrings to wear because she always liked to wear colorful earrings to match her outfit.

They were buried three days after they died. The significance of that is not lost on me now. Three days after my Mom and brother Craig died, they were still in their graves.

I hated those graves. And I hated death. I hated what death had done to my family.

They didn’t let me go to the actual funeral.

But I knew better than anyone that my Mom and my brother Craig were dead. And I knew life would never, ever be the same.

And I knew with every fiber of my being that I HATED death. Absolutely hated it.

The following Easter, I was 6 years old. Before that year, Easter had been about “Jesus Loves Me This I Know” and wearing a pretty new Easter dress and a pretty Easter bonnet and shiny new Easter shoes and eating chocolate and carrying a bright Easter basket to hunt Easter eggs.

That Easter when I was 6, everything changed for me. And Easter has not been the same for me since.

I may have been a child but I understood more than some adults did what Jesus’ Resurrection was really all about at that point.

When the preacher read the verses, “O Death, Where is thy sting? O Grave, Where is thy victory?” I knew what those powerful words really meant.

I HATED death. I still do. The agony. The separation. The sorrow. The longing. The loss of someone so dear and so loved.

The pain so deep it hurts in your heart and soul and mind and every pore of your body.

I HATE death.

I hate death so much I want to scream and punch it and kick it to Kingdom come. But I don’t have to. Easter means God already did that for me and for you.

Once and for all, God conquered fear and death on Resurrection Day.

Once and for all, God let the world know that death is NOT the end.

Once and for all, God showed the world the power of HOPE.

That’s the power of Resurrection Sunday, the day we also call Easter Sunday.

It hurts my heart knowing what Jesus had to do to get there. We can’t get to Resurrection Sunday without going through Good Friday and the agony of His Crucifixion.

Still to this day, it makes my heart ache reading about and knowing what Jesus suffered. That people would do so much to deliberately hurt and ridicule and punish Someone so full of genuine kindness and unconditional love still floors me and grieves my heart.

But He did it. He did it because that was the only way to rescue and redeem us.

He did it because that was the only way to show us ~beyond a shadow of a doubt~ how much He loves us.

He did it because that was the only way to prove that death does NOT get the last word.

He did it because that was the only way to prove that HOPE and LOVE are far stronger and far more powerful than any force on Earth.

I love seeing pictures of the Empty Tomb. I love reading about the day the stone was rolled away, once and for all. I love picturing what it must have been like to walk up to the grave full of sorrow and mourning and instead find an Empty Tomb ~ and great JOY.

When the stone was rolled away from Jesus’ tomb, darkness and fear and death lost their power forever.

When the stone was rolled away from Jesus’ tomb, faith, hope and love won the victory forever.

I have seen the caskets and graves of far too many people I love already.

My Mom Barbara. My little brother Craig. All my grandparents and great-grandparents. Several friends. And most recently, my sweet and only sister Linnie.

I have hugged and mourned with too many friends and neighbors over untimely and tragic deaths in their families and circles of friends. I have seen grief take its toll.

Each time I lost someone I love, I have hated death even more.

Each time I lost someone I love, I have loved Jesus more for what He did this Holy Week.

Each time I lost someone I love, I have longed for Easter Resurrection Sunday even more.

It’s my favorite holiday of the year and by far, the most meaningful to me.

Easter Resurrection Sunday tells me that no matter what happens, no matter what it looks like, HOPE WINS.

The significance of what happened this Holy Week changed the world ~and my heart and life~ forever and gave me a HOPE that will never die.

The power of the HOPE of the Resurrection.

~By Janet Lyn~
*Written Palm Sunday, March 28, 2010, for Easter*

*Original photo by Janet Lyn*
*My little brother Craig*                  *Me and my Mom Barbara*

*My sweet sister Linnie laughing with her kitty-cat*

*Original artwork by Gia Antolini. Used by Permission*


*With Easter Love from Me to You*


lynnmosher said...

Oh, Janet, my heart aches for the grief you have and are suffering through the loss of all the precious lives around you. I know the Lord has brought you through it all and is continuing to do so. May you dance in the garden of the empty tomb! Be blessed!

Sandra Heska King said...

This is powerful. So powerful.

Jenn said...

Beautifully written. Thank you for sharing, your words are a balm to my heart. I wrote a post about what Easter means to me on my blog today, if you'd like to read it.

Wanza Leftwich, The Gospel Writer said...

Thank you for sharing your grief and your hope with us. I thank God for hope and his redeeming power in our lives.

Wanza Leftwich, The Gospel Writer said...

Thank you for sharing your grief and your hope. God's love is amazing! I am grateful for the hope he brings as well as his redemptive power in our lives. And no, death is not the end!

Anonymous said...

So much grief, Janet. Thanks for sharing with us, and reminding us of the hope we have in Jesus.

katdish said...

Thanks for this beautiful story. You have a depth of understanding that most of us will never know. Hope you had a beautiful Easter Sunday.

Duane Scott said...

I just wanted to stop in and say that I am now following your blog again. I used to be, but due to some privacy issues, had to go incognito. I look forward to reading your post again, and hope you follow me back to my new site. Thanks!