As Easter approaches I find myself looking at things just a little more (ok maybe a lot more) differently than I have in the past. Easter will be the beginning of all the “firsts” that we will go through since the passing of Mandy, Scott, Lizzie and Judah. It will be painful as this would have also been Judah’s first Easter. Our family will carry on with the same traditions that we do each year. Friday night we will attend Good Friday services at our church and celebrate the Lord’s Supper. Saturday night we will color eggs with the children. Sunday morning, we will attend church, take our family photo in front of the cross and come home to hunt for eggs and eat a dinner complete with ham, mashed potatoes and baked macaroni and cheese. It will be hard, it will be sad but it will also be joyful. Joyful because we are celebrating our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and His glorious resurrection.
This year though, I have been pondering many things in my heart. I see things so much differently right now. Feelings are so much stronger, hope so much more important, thankfulness for what was and what will be so prevalent. But as I have been thinking on Easter this last ten days or so I found myself thinking of Mary and thinking about what she was feeling on Good Friday and Easter Sunday. I think because of what we have just walked through I can relate to Mary so much more this year than I have ever done so in the past.
Can you imagine the scene? Mary being there, watching every step that her son was taking on the way to Golgotha, can you even imagine what must have been going through her mind? This woman, close to my own age I would imagine was drinking in every step, every lash, ever hit that her son was taking. Knowing that he was the Son of God certainly didn’t make it any easier for her of that I am sure. Knowing that my beautiful Mandy, Scott, Lizzie and Judah are sitting at the feet of Jesus doesn’t make losing them any easier or less painful.
God chose Mary to be the mother of Jesus as a young girl. In those days, a woman just didn’t get pregnant out of wedlock it was unthinkable. The bible tells us in Luke 2:19 “But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.”, oh the things that must have gone through Mary’s mind during those days of her pregnancy. I am sure that she never contemplated how the story would go, the chapters it would fill or the way that it would end and that the end would signify a new beginning. Personally, I can relate to this. I was a young, unwed pregnant girl with Mandy and I pondered a lot of things in my mind and heart during my pregnancy. I had no idea what the days, weeks, months and years ahead will hold for me and this baby I was carrying and I certainly had no idea how the story would end and a new story would begin.
I am confident that just like any mother, Mary watched her young baby grow with awe and amazement. She guarded him when he was growing. She worried about him getting hurt. She was proud at his achievements whether learning to walk or teaching in the Temple. Just like all mother’s I am sure she had hopes and dreams for his future.
John 19:25: “Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene.” I am sure that on that day watching her son being stripped of his clothes, beaten, mocked and forced to carry his cross that her heart was breaking. I am sure that she felt like her world was crumbling. I imagine that with every strike of the hammer as the nails were driven into Jesus’ feet and hands that she felt each strike and that her heart stopped every time she heard the hammer hit the nail. In the final moments that Good Friday, at this exact point, Mary felt her breath being taken from her as if someone had just kicked her in the stomach. John 19:30: “When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.”
As a woman who has just lost a daughter, a son-in-law and two precious grand babies I can tell you that the pain that Mary felt that day was real. The things she saw and heard that day seemed like a nightmare and she had no idea where to go from that point on. I can share that her soul cried out in a way that she had never imagined before and she felt numb and scared. As I stood in front of my family’s home on that early March morning I think I now know a bit more about how Mary felt standing in front of that cross. Disbelief and shock. Grief that was overwhelming. Her world would never be the same again, she would never feel the same as she had before, she would carry these pictures in her mind the rest of her days, a piece of her would always be missing.
Praise Jesus this is not where the story ended! This is where the story began a new chapter where the glorious hope of Jesus’s resurrection overcame death. The empty tomb on Easter morning was and is a renewing for all of us! Luke 24:6a: “He is not here; he has risen!” In those seven perfect words is the hope that all of us who have lost someone can hold on to. Because He has risen we will see our loved ones again and we know that they are all dancing and worshipping at the feet of Jesus. We know that they truly know the meaning behind 2 Corinthians 5:8: “We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.”
This Easter I have a renewed passion for the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus and the importance of what happened on that Good Friday and Easter Sunday morning so long ago. It is because of John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” that I know that Mandy, Scott, Lizzie and Judah are dancing with Jesus and that they are in awe of Him in a way that none of us will ever understand this side of heaven. It is that hope and belief that reassures me that we will be together again one day. I can almost hear my sweet Lizzie saying the words to one of her favorite songs “My God’s not dead, he’s surely alive!” And this Easter she gets to sing it straight to him. This makes my heart smile.
Revelation 21:4: “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.”
As I close my Easter ponderings I want to encourage you this year to look a little harder at Good Friday and Easter. No matter what you’ve been through or what you are going through now you have the glorious hope of what awaits each one of us if we believe in Him.
Isaiah 25:8: “He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the rebuke of his people shall he take away from off all the earth: for the Lord hath spoken it.”
In Christ…Because He Lives,