Ahhhh. Monday. Easter week is over and I survived the many trips to church and family gatherings. Now I can settle back into normal life until the rush of Memorial Day weekend chores and family barbeque arrives. If you’re like me at all, you can’t wait to slip back into the comfort of a routine schedule again. As happy as I am to get back into my normal everyday life, I am hesitant to leave Easter behind.
Easter is, after all, the greatest love story ever and I love a good love story. It has everything a good story needs – suspense, great characters to which the audience can relate, a moment where all looks hopeless, then a huge challenge to overcome, and let’s not forget the amazing hero who in the end saves the day and gets the girl!
What makes the Easter story different from other great love stories is that the hero in most stories just sort of falls into the role. It’s not something he was planning. Usually, in the beginning he’s just meeting the object of his affection for the first time. Then someone or something throws a wrench into the relationship and he has to figure out a way to win her back. He faces struggles he doesn’t anticipate and in the end manages to stumble upon the one act of love that wins her back or saves her life and they live happily ever after… at least until the sequel.
But the Easter story isn’t like that at all. God knew and loved us from the beginning of time. He knew exactly what would need to be done, and when, to win the day and never wavered from his plan. In the end, his great act of love saved his beloved and that story continues today. The Message by Eugene Peterson explains it this way:
Long before he laid down earth's foundations, he [God] had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of his love, to be made whole and holy by his love. Long, long ago he decided to adopt us into his family through Jesus Christ. (What pleasure he took in planning this!) He wanted us to enter into the celebration of his lavish gift-giving by the hand of his beloved Son.
Because of the sacrifice of the Messiah, his blood poured out on the altar of the Cross, we're a free people—free of penalties and punishments chalked up by all our misdeeds. And not just barely free, either. Abundantly free! He thought of everything, provided for everything we could possibly need, letting us in on the plans he took such delight in making. He set it all out before us in Christ, a long-range plan in which everything would be brought together and summed up in him, everything in deepest heaven, everything on planet earth.
It's in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for. Long before we first heard of Christ and got our hopes up, he had his eye on us, had designs on us for glorious living, part of the overall purpose he is working out in everything and everyone.
So maybe it is Monday and things will go back to the daily routine I find comfort in – but I refuse to let Easter be over in my heart. Christ’s dying on the cross and rising from the dead for me deserves my undying love and gratitude every day, not just Easter week. So each day I wake up, I hope to celebrate Easter. I want it to be my greatest desire to know him better, to want to live a life pleasing to him, to meet him in his Word often, and have the courage to let his love shine through me wherever I am. I want to live in him and have the abundant life he died and then rose to give me. That, after all, is the promise of the empty tomb – eternal, abundant life in relationship with the God who created me, who came as a man to take my punishment and rose from the dead to bring me into new life. What girl can resist that?
May you carry Easter in your heart all year round.
He is risen!
He is risen indeed!