This weekend, Easter weekend, is the anniversary of my “salvation”. It was the Easter of my Jr. year in High School at a Lay Witness Mission at our church that the culmination of years of spiritual experiences came together for me to understand how much God loved me, and how much I loved him back, and that I wanted Him to change my life.
You see, my daddy died when I was only 7 years old. When I meet little 7 year old girls these days I am struck by how small they are, and how MUCH they love, depend on and idolize their dad’s. I’m sure I was no different.
I do remember when Daddy died that the people who came to our home to help with food, and anything else during those days immediately following his death were friends from church, neighbors and family. One of the things I heard repeatedly was “Your Daddy is in Heaven with Jesus”. He had gone somewhere else, oh yes, his body was in that box, but the part that made him my daddy was now in heaven, it had gone on ahead of me to heaven, somewhere that I was assured over and over that I could go too. Being seven years old, I believed every word of it. I began listening more intently when people talked about heaven, God and Jesus. I wanted to know more about where my Dad had gone, and who he was with, and what all that entailed.
As I grew and continued to be raised in the church, learning Bible stories in Sunday school class and participating in Christmas programs and Easter Cantata’s the true meaning of “life after death” began to solidify in my mind.
I remember at my baptism and subsequent membership into the Methodist church when I was 12 years on another Palm Sunday, I cried as I knelt at the altar and the preacher baptized me out of the baptismal fount that had a plaque on it in memory of my Dad. I understood the concept of washing and cleansing from the sins we commit, and what Jesus had done on the cross for me. The reality of a relationship with Him was beginning to make sense. By the time the Lay Witness Mission was planned for Palm Sunday of my Jr. Year of high school, and I had reached that age of impatience and growing tired of waiting on God to show me if all this “religious stuff” was really true, God knew I was ripe for the picking.
Joy unspeakable and full of glory, as the old hymn says, was mine. I hadn’t known anything like it, and I told everyone I knew; I still do when I get the chance.
So you see I view life as other followers and believers in the resurrection of Jesus Christ, with the assurances and promises that were given to me as a small child. Heaven is a place, Jesus is there, the ones I love who have died before me are there, and someday, I will be there too.
Very similar to the early Christians, the hope in life after death became a reality with the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The assurance that they would be reunited with him in heaven, the teacher they loved and adored, plus their brothers and sisters in that belief, was a reality for them.
Celebrating Easter every year is the marking of not only the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, but my birth as one of His followers. It’s a duel celebration, twice the “Joy Unspeakable and Full of Glory!”
REJOICE! HE IS RISEN! HE IS RISEN INDEED!!
*from the archives