Saturday, April 20, 2013

Easter’s Over…Now What?

I know Easter is long gone, but this year I feel a need to linger over it a bit longer. I usually have no problem putting the Easter decorations away the very next day and turning my mind to gardening and vacations. Summer, with its sunshine and warmth, is always a welcome thought on the heels of this Christian holiday. But this year I feel stalled.
   Maybe it has something to do with watching the television series, The Bible, on the History Channel every Sunday evening. The series culminated on Easter, and yes, I miss it. Millions of viewers sat glued to their televisions as the Bible was brought to life in a fresh and different way. Each week the show left an impact on my heart. While some agree that not every aspect of Roma Downey and Mark Burnett’s rendition of the greatest story ever told was biblically correct, the main parts, in my opinion, were realistic. The character of Paul, especially, while he was still known as Saul, really got me thinking. I knew Saul persecuted people, sometimes murdering them, just because they were Christ followers. He assumed he was doing a good thing (Acts 9:1-2). Saul was blinded to the truth until he was visited by Jesus while on the road to Damascus. After that, he was literally blind for three days. God got his attention, changed his heart, filled him with the Holy Spirit and Saul was a new man. Later, God changed his name to Paul.
   Like many viewers, I knew that biblical story. God chose to use someone who was highly educated, who knew the scriptures well, and who was bent on destroying Christianity, to be one of the greatest preachers and followers of Christ of all time.  And maybe it’s because my head has been saturated with prison ministry the past few years, but while watching the episode of Saul committing his crimes, I realized that God had every right to be angry with him. The Lord could have had him locked up for life, or even killed for his mistreatment of Christians. If God was irate with Saul for his behavior, no one would have blamed Him. But God chose to have compassion on Saul and performed spiritual heart surgery on him instead.
   When I think of those who have committed crimes and who are locked up in prison, the story of Saul inspires me to have a heart of compassion for them, like God had for Saul. They, too, have been blinded to the truth.
   The day after Easter I bought some marked down candy. It was a quality name brand and even at half-off it was rather pricey—I assumed it would be solid chocolate. Instead, it was hollow…empty inside. I couldn’t help but see the analogy of what Easter is to those who are “blinded”; who do not yet have a personal relationship with Jesus.  Life is hollow and empty, but it doesn’t have to be that way.
   Even though Easter is over (according to our calendars), its message is still clear—Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6). He is willing to forgive any sins you have committed, but you must turn to Him and trust Him to help you.

Be good to your servant while I live, that I may obey your word. Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law (Psalm 119:17-18).
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