To be honest, I’ve mulled over what to write here in terms of Easter for the past month. Guess what? I still don’t feel settled about it. How do I write about this? Do I just go for it with the gospel? Do I talk about my own personal current sentiments? Or do I just hint at it and link some pretty pictures of more Easter inspiration? Uh, I guess all of the above? I don’t know. So here goes.
You would think I would have a lot to say about the death of our Savior. I mean, I watched death happen before my own eyes just over six months ago. I’ve experienced the act of someone so deeply cherished by so many be in pain for hours and then slip away from this earth. It was awful. I will never forget the way my body felt: exhaustion like I’ve never experienced before, extreme cramping nausea, limbs shaking, deep breaths and walks around the hospital’s 7th floor to calm my body down. And I wasn’t the one with cancer. I was the one watching cancer take over. And watching everyone around me mourn. And trying to compose myself and play a huge support role. The visions and feelings I carry from those 3 days in the hospital are ones I will never, ever forget.
So, I suppose I get it. For the first year in my life, I feel like I can empathize with what Good Friday felt like. For Jesus and for those mourning His death. Yes, my understanding is the tiniest fraction of the pain He felt, the pain God felt, the pain everyone who loved Him felt as they watched the suffering. My brother was an incredible, remarkable man. But he wasn’t Jesus. So to mourn the loss of Jesus, God’s only son? That I can never fully imagine or fathom being present for. But to have a glimpse? I suppose you could say I’m grateful.
As the hours drew closer and closer to Tim’s death, I started repeating and singing this prayer in my head: Holy Spirit you are welcome here. Come flood this place and fill the atmosphere. And as the hours seemed to go by slower and more painfully, I continued to plead to God: Lord, please take him. Take him home. Free of pain and with You. I prayed it over and over and over again. And He answered my prayers.
Something changed in the 20 minutes prior to Tim’s last breath. I finally felt peace overcome me. I knew the moment he would take his last breath would mean life would change for forever, but I had peace in that. I felt God say that He would give strength. For myself, for my husband, for my best friend, for my new in-laws, and for everyone else that loved Tim so much. I truly felt that promise. Because if I didn’t, I wouldn’t have felt that peace that was in that room.
Tim’s last breath was heart wrenchingly beautiful. I can’t fully put words to it – I don’t think I ever will be able to – but, I will try. What I witnessed was an image of Jesus sitting right there with us crying. He hovered over Tim. His right hand touching Katie. On Tim’s final earthly breath, He so gracefully swept Tim with Him to the sky and at the same time stayed with Katie and held her as she cried out in despair. As we all wept together, I still had the image of Jesus holding Katie. And yet, I had an image of Him holding all of us in that room. I felt His comfort in a way I have never, ever experienced in a moment of the deepest pain of my life.
Can you imagine Jesus’ death? What we would have experienced and witnessed as we looked to the cross? As we watched Jesus’ last breath? Such immense pain and sorrow. And if we were there on that Good Friday, we would have had no hope. We would not have had the gift of the image of Christ saving, protecting, and comforting. That Good Friday, we would have thought it was the end. And it wasn’t.
Let’s transport back to this week in 2016. It’s been busy and draining. I haven’t plugged through my to-do list as much as I would have desired. I’ve felt overwhelmed and disappointed in myself that I’ve overlooked Holy Week and the faithful reflection it truly deserves. I’m super behind in my reading the Bible in a year plan. Like, a month behind. Our church has made every effort to promote symbolization and reflection of Jesus’ death and yet I’ve felt disengaged and pre-occupied with ultimately myself and my needs.
We do that, right? We know that Easter is a big deal. There is a reason we decide we need to be at church on Easter Sunday. Whether we’re devoted believers, seeking, or in attendance out of guilt or pure force from our family members. There is a reason heart strings get tugged as we sit through that sermon and hear the Gospel. And whether we know that message or not, we feel something. Something deep in the pit of our souls. And then we go eat a deliciously large meal with friends and family, watch the kiddos in their darling pastels, seersucker, and gingham outfits as they hunt after hidden Easter eggs, and then head back to work the next day. Yeah, we do that. So pretty much, we don’t prioritize Jesus’ death.
And yet, that’s why He died. He died because we’re sinful and broken and completely self-seeking and self-obsessed. He died because we can’t do life without Him and His grace. He died because we will continue to go through our busy lives and head to church here and there and treat Christianity as a cultural experience and then someday we will be faced with the idea of our OWN deaths and be terrified beyond all belief. We will question what in the heck happens when it’s our turn. Our loved ones turns. Our own children’s turns.
Jesus’ death on the cross answers that question. And here’s that answer: Jesus Christ died for our sins. He was buried. He raised to life 3 days later and people saw him. And that is why we can live for eternity.
That also answers the question to how I know where my deceased brother is in this very moment. It answers how and why I saw Jesus come to take him there with peace and assurance. It’s the answer to why I know my selfish self – who can’t quite get her stuff together on Holy Week or any other – is forgiven with grace.
That is what I have to write about today. And perhaps that is enough.
I’ll leave you with these two big questions: If you or your loved ones were to face death today, do you know where you would go? And if you did know, how certain are you that you would get in there?
If you’re completely unsure how to answer those, will you email me? Let’s chat. If you’re in the Bay, let’s get coffee. Let me invite you to my home and let’s share a meal together and talk about it. Not creepy, not forced. Just honest conversation. And if you’re in the SF Bay Area this weekend and find yourself wanting to ask more questions or to hear about what in the world I’m talking about, my husband and I want to invite you to church with us. This doesn’t have to be weird, I promise. We won’t be awkward, we won’t target you. We have really good taste in where to get coffee beforehand, we’re keen on picking good seats, share arm rests, and I think we’re pretty decent company. It’s an open invitation this Sunday and every Sunday. I hope you know how genuine it is. Just shoot me an email and we’ll make plans.
Thank you for making your way here to this post, hearing me out, and taking a moment with it. Wishing you all the most blessed Easter weekend!
He is Risen!