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Easter Surprise

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The historic site of the empty tomb of Jesus
I had learned that Jesus died on the cross, was buried and rose from the dead on Easter morn. It was part of our family's belief system. It was in the creed we recited out loud each week at church. But the real-life event had happened so long ago, I didn't see any connection to my life nearly two thousand years later.

Sunlight streamed through my bedroom window and poked me in the eye one early Sunday morning in April, 1948. I was ten years old. “June, June,” I called to my seven-year-old sister in the bed across from mine. “Wake up. It’s Easter.”

She popped up and smiled as she rubbed the sleep from her eyes. Together we bounded down the stairs to the kitchen, hand-in-hand and opened the refrigerator. Sure enough. True to his custom, Dad had placed three beautiful carnation corsages on the top shelf next to the bottle of milk–one for Mom, one for June, and one for me. As usual, he’d snuck them into the house the night before after we were fast asleep.

We took the flowers out of their delicate boxes, eager to pin them to the front of our Easter coats. But first we’d step into our new spring dresses, lacey socks and patent leather slippers before donning our new straw hats and gloves. If only there were an Easter parade. I wanted to show off our new duds! I’d have to settle for the folks at church noticing us as we walked down the center aisle to our seats.

At that time of my life Easter was all about clothes, candy, Easter eggs and the beautiful baskets Mom filled with goodies and gifts for each one of us. Of course there was a bountiful dinner and a mouth-watering dessert to enjoy that afternoon, as well.

THE BIBLE TOLD ME SO

I had learned that Jesus died on the cross, was buried and rose from the dead on Easter morn. It was part of our family’s belief system. It was in the creed we recited out loud each week at church. But the real-life event had happened so long ago, I didn’t see any connection to my life nearly two thousand years later.

In the decades that followed, I repeated the Easter customs I had grown to love. There were always new clothes and lovely corsages, colorful jellybeans and Easter eggs, ham dinners and chocolate bunnies, perfunctory prayers, and of course, church on Easter Sunday. I continued the tradition as an adult when I had daughters and a son of my own. Until one year when we stopped going to church. The services seemed long and dry and my mind wandered to the things I’d rather be doing—like playing tennis or going for a bike ride around the lake.

Then suddenly without warning, in my late 30s, my life turned upside down like an umbrella in a rainstorm. And no amount of effort on my part could turn it right side up again. My husband left our family—just like that. I was a woman alone, divorced, then separated from my children for a time, without contact with my parents and scared out of my mind at what lay ahead.

I needed a Savior!

And into my life came Jesus Christ–the one I had read about, sang about, learned about—but never really knew until He came alive through the pages of Scripture and the shared experiences of caring people in a bible study I attended as a guest of a new friend.

THE ONLY WAY

One day as I cried out to God in pain, the verse from John 14:6 that I had read in class marched across the hallway of my mind.

“I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

These words of Christ lanced my heart and out poured all the grief, anger, disappointment, pain and pretense of a lifetime spent trying to look good and be good on my own power.

Suddenly I knew that my life never was and never would be only about me. It was a gift from God through Jesus Christ. He alone could turn my heart from one of stone to one of flesh. He alone could provide what I needed and desperately wanted—to be loved and forgiven and rescued. I confessed my sins and received Him as my Lord and Savior.

Easter that year—over 30 years after the Easter morn I remembered from 1948—was the first time I walked in the only new garments that matter. I was clothed in righteousness, released from sin, restored in spirit and recognized as a friend of God. All this and more because of what Christ did on Calvary and on that magnificent Easter morning when He rose in glory to secure for all eternity my life in Him and the lives of all who bow before Him, confess their sins and call Him Lord.

“I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though

he dies, and whoever lives and believes in me will never die (John 11:25-26 NIV).”

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