Holy Week is all about remembering. Remembering that Christ suffered and died for our sins. Remembering that he washed the feet of the disciples to give us an example to follow. Remembering at the Last Supper he gave the disciples a glimpse of what was to come that weekend. Remembering that he prayed for God to take away the cup, but promised obedience to his Father’s will whatever was to come. But most of all remembering the resurrection. (Read Matthew 26:1-28:20) This is the cornerstone of my faith. The beautiful butterflies always remind me of Christ’s resurrection as they go from caterpillar, to chrysalis, to butterfly. The caterpillar must die so the butterfly can live. So it is with Christ’s death and resurrection, the physical body must die so the new body can emerge. Without resurrection, nothing else matters.
Christ promised us that life goes on. There’s a beautiful song by that name sung by the Talley Trio. It is an extremely comforting song to me. You see I too am remembering. Remembering that God loves us unconditionally, remembering that he forgives all our sins. I am also remembering how my faith nearly slipped away from me when six years ago today, my darling son died of a heart attack in his sleep at the age of 42. I was so angry at God.
You see just months before he died he gave his life to Christ. He started going to church and asked me to come with him. He had struggled with bi-polar depression all his life, complicated by alcoholism and in former years, drug use. But now, praise God, he had turned his life around. I wish I could say from that point on he was healed of his depression and alcoholism and became a saintly example. It didn’t quite happen that way. However, the way it did happen was more surprising that anything I could imagine. He often would wear his T-shirt that showed Christ with his crown of thorns that said, “no pain, no gain.” to work. He was a bartender and worked in a bar. He would look around the room and point to people, saying “you, you and you. You need to come to church with me.” My son, who’s major church attendance consisted of coming with me on Mother’s Day as his gift to me, was evangelizing. He never hesitated to talk to people about his conversion.
I was so looking forward to watching my son mature in his beliefs. Instead, he died. I felt like God had ripped him away from me and my faith wavered.
However, its hard to say my faith kept wavering when I was hearing the voice of God every day. He kept telling me to praise him. My anger notwithstanding, I still believed that God was there and that he heard my cries. I just wasn’t very happy with Him at that point. Believe me I could not, at first, understand what I could possibly praise him for, so I kept saying no. This went on for several days and one day I grudgingly obeyed (is it really obedience if you do it with a bad attitude?). I praised him for the beautiful day it was. Each successive day, my praises became more heartfelt and real. I truly was feeling the Holy Spirit lighten the burden of grief. And then one day, God revealed to me the gift inside the grief.
Instead of drowning myself in sorrow, upset about what I was going to miss, I realized that I had been given the gift of 3 months with my son knowing he was saved. I am so grateful every day now for that gift. Just imagine if he had died without making that commitment. I would not have the joy of knowing that I will see him in heaven one day. I would be devastated.
So now, while I still shed tears on this day every year, its because I miss having him here. The tears don’t last long knowing that he is safe, healed and happy. He no longer suffers from bi-polar depression, or addictions to alcohol and/or drugs. He has been made whole. The Bible promises us that Jesus has prepared a place for us in his Father’s house (John 14:2). He told the thief on the cross, that on that very day he would join Christ in paradise (Luke 23:43). So I know without a doubt where he is.
My wish for each of you is to celebrate in your hearts and minds the resurrection of Christ. Remembering that God loves us so much that he sent his only son to die for our sins so we could have eternal life. (John 3:16) No matter what happens in this life, no matter how hard the road may get, God is with us. He will never leave us, he will hold us in his strong right hand, and he will walk with us through the valley of the shadow death, so we need not fear. Life may not run smoothly or turn out the way we expected, but we can still find joy in the Lord, each and every day. Remember.