"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world!" John 16:33
Hi Sweet Friends!
Happy Easter Week! What a joy it is to write to y'all today. The other night I was talking with my sweet friend who tragically lost her husband 2 years ago and she said something that so touched my heart this week. She was saying how Christmas always used to be her favorite holiday, but now, more than ever, Easter is her very favorite. It is because of what Christ did on Easter that she knows she will see her husband again one day in Heaven. And for her, that is one of the greatest reasons to celebrate. Her words have made me think so much on what Easter really is about and the power of Christ's death and resurrection.
One of my favorite Easter sermons was titled "It's not over, even when it’s over!" So true! I love reflecting on what Christ did on the cross; what a crazy, passionate love He displayed for us that day. How he was betrayed, beaten and abandoned all because He loved us, without any promise that we would ever love Him back. It is without a doubt, the greatest love story ever told. It brings me to tears when I think of the excruciating pain that my Savior endured that day; they stripped him, spit on him, mocked him, flogged him 39 times (1 short of that which would have traditionally killed a man), then they made him carry his own cross up a huge hill, only to nail him to it when he got to the top. Then, as if he wasn't in enough pain already, his lungs eventually filled up with fluid and he suffocated to death on the cross...
All of this because He loved us! In Isaiah 49:16 it says" See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands." Your name, my name, was engraved on Christ's hands as the nails were driven through them. As He took on the sin of the world that day, He was thinking about us. "But He was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by His wounds we are healed. We all like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all." Isaiah 53:5-6 By His wounds, we are healed! It blows me away that the King of the Universe couldn't stand that we were separated from Him, so He came to Earth and changed everything. That's what Jesus does, He changes everything! This week at Young Life, I took my precious sophomore girls through just some of the miraculous stories in the book of John where Jesus came into the picture and everything was changed; people were healed, the blind could see, the adulterous woman was purified, the paralytic could walk, and the dead were brought back to life. Those stories just pump me up, because when we allow Jesus into our lives, nothing is left unchanged. He brings light into the darkest places, He creates beauty from ashes, He gives hope to the hopeless, and He conquers death! That's my King. As my precious hubby reflected on that this morning, he so eloquently wrote: "Do you ever think about it? He wore a crown of thorns so that you might receive the Crown of Righteousness. He wore a scarlet robe so that you would have no scarlet letter. In His right hand they placed a reed so that you may experience what it is for you to be upheld with His righteous right hand. He sweat blood so that the curse of sweat could be done away with. He was covered in blood so that you wouldn't be covered in your sin. He was beat so that you would never lose. He carried that cross so that you would never have to carry that burden of guilt. Oh, the magnificence! The majesty! The mystery of that moment! Then He died for you so that you might live for Him! What's stopping you!?" Oh I love that! So although what Christ did on the cross truly was the bravest, most courageous and selfless thing anyone has ever done in all of history, the story doesn't end there. It's not over even when it’s over!
Jesus truly did die that faithful day on the cross. Scripture says He cried out, "It is Finished," John 19:30 and then He took His very last breath. The guards took His body down, declared Him dead, and then His body was laid in the tomb. He was dead, really dead; dead for 3 days. If that was the end of the story, there would be no hope for us. I'm sure everyone who was there to witness Christ's death thought that was the end, it was over. Perhaps we have all been at a point in our lives when we thought our lives were over, where we had no hope, when we thought our story might as well end there. Praise God that Jesus didn't end the story there. On Easter Sunday, the tomb was empty. Christ had risen, He conquered death! That day, everything changed. There was now life after death. The veil was torn, the gates of heaven opened; the gates of hell defeated. Because Christ didn't just die, but He rose from the dead, we can spend eternity in heaven with our King. It wasn't over, even when it was over! It only just began.... I know that none of you who are reading this have ever really died, however every single one of us has been completely dead in our sin. See apart from Christ, there is no life, we are dead. But as Jesus said, "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. Do you believe this?" John 11:25 Jesus = life! Do you believe it? Have you allowed the power of Christ's death and resurrection to change everything for you? Oh, I pray that this Easter you will know, without a shadow of a doubt that you get to spend eternity in Heaven because Jesus conquered death on that first Easter Sunday. We all have a story, some stories are filled with many trials, pain and loss; my prayer is that your story radically changed the day you really met Jesus. That is the day that your life really began. If you remember that day, reflect on it, praise God for it, tell all your friends about it. Let the world know the day Jesus changed everything for you. That's what Easter is truly all about. And if you don't yet have the part of the story where Christ swoops in and rescues you for all of eternity, I pray that today would be that day! "But these things are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name." John 20:31
Oh, I am just so excited to celebrate Easter this weekend. We are celebrating 'Resurrection Sunday' as we like to call it on Saturday night with all our Young Life kids, then on Sunday morning we will be with Matt's family and on Sunday night we are celebrating with our wonderful friends. It should be such a fun weekend and I feel so wonderful. God is so great to restore my health the way He does between chemotherapy treatments. I am officially done with all my icky chemotherapy treatments! Yay! Now, I just have 12 'easy' treatments left. This Tuesday I will have my first 'Taxol' treatment and will continue to have them every Tuesday until June 26th. Although, we don't know what exactly to expect, Dr. O says we should be optimistic that I will feel just fine, perhaps just really tired on Tuesdays. My best friend of 17 years, Nicole, is flying in on Monday night from Colorado to take care of us next week. I am so excited! I pray I will feel so good that we will just get to play the whole time she is here :)
Friends, I pray that you have the sweetest Easter ever; that you will take time to truly celebrate what Christ has done in your life. I will be lifting you up in prayer! I love you dearly! Have an 'Eggcellent' Easter!:)
PS: You should read this really sweet article in our Allen Image Magazine:) http://issuu.com/allenimage/docs/april_web/19 Yay for John 10:10!
Joyfully in HIM~