BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! Rap-tap-tap. Rap-tap-tap.
The percussion players came booming down the aisle exuberantly leading the congregation into the annual celebration of our risen Lord.
It was eight years ago, during the time that I lived in Livingston, Texas and was a member of First Baptist Livingston, but to this day it is one of the most impactful Easter service's of my life.
The drum entrance filled the congregation with vivacious energy. I could feel everyone's excitement. But I have to say, it's not only the drums that mark that service as special.
It was the fact that I felt anything at all.
For far too long, Easter hadn't meant more than a time to buy a new fancy dress. Just another holiday with family potlucks, some delicious chocolate, and beautiful spring weather.
I was raised by two Bible believing parents, and practically went to church every time the doors were open. I had come to know Christ at 8 years old, and had heard the great gospel story many many times.
I knew that Jesus came to save not only my sins, but the world's. That it is by His great act of love and sacrifice alone that allows me to join Him in heaven. Accepting that Jesus is Lord of all and that He in fact arose from the grave is the belief, the faith, that would grant me eternal salvation.
But somehow...I had emotionally disconnected to that profound message. Over the years the pastor's preaching had become like Charlie Brown's teacher saying, " wah, wah, wah." My spirit had developed a flippant attitude. It said, "Okay, I get it, but what's the big deal?"
I had somehow acknowledged the truth of Easter, but never acknowledged it's weight, it's glory, it's triumph, nor the full impact of His grace.
But not that day.
That day, I raised my hands in praise, and let tears stream down my face. Tears that were not of sorrow or shame, but of joy and relief. My Lord had RISEN!!! Which gives His act of sacrifice meaning and power. He didn't just take away my sin, He also gave me LIFE.
Everything. And I mean EVERYTHING about the Christian faith hinges on that fact alone. That Jesus Christ is God incarnate, died on the cross, and then AROSE from the grave.
If He had not risen...then the Jesus movement of that time would have been nothing more than a cult, and the Roman's most likely would have succeeded in snuffing it out. But unlike any other proclaiming deity...my God is not dead.
The piercing reality of God's grace to the world penetrated my heart and for probably the first time since my salvation, my stony heart had become flesh once again.
I can't tell you what was preached that day, the songs we sang, or who was even preaching. All I know is that ever since that Easter, I can't hear the gospel without getting emotional.
The older I get the more songs like “You Are Loved” by Ellie Holcomb mean more and more to me. This is the chorus of that song.
"But you are loved, Not because of what you've done no, Even when your heart has run the other way, Nothing's gonna change his love, and you are wanted, not because you are perfect, I know that you don't think you are worth that kind of grace,Look into his face you'll know that you are loved oh..."
The fact that God still pursues me ( almost daily) moves me so much. How He shamelessly pursues my wandering heart overwhelms me. Holcomb's song reminds me of this precious scripture:
2 Timothy 2:13 "If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself."
To me this scripture has always meant that if we are His children then there is nothing-no height, nor depth, nor a sealed tomb that can keep us form the love of God. For if we are His children, then He lives in us. We are bound to Him.
From that service forward, I get very excited every Easter. Weeks before the actual day, I start feeling joyful. I get "the Saints won the Super Bowl" kind of excited. I get an extra bounce in my step and I just want to run up to people and simple shout that He has RISEN, His power is ALIVE.
And when I take communion, I remember.
I remember the weight of his sacrifice. I remember His triumph over MY sin and death. I feel the full impact of His grace for me, and I remember His glory.
May I never miss the magnitude of God's saving grace.
How does Easter impact you?