Easter has come and gone leaving a wake of marshmallow bunnies and love-handles in it’s path.
Thanks mom, for playing accomplice to the Easter Bunny.
No really, my dying will-power thanks you.
Meanwhile, I’m writing at Panera tonight or rather, I’m trying to. I’ve got my headphones plugged into my laptop but I’m a fraud – I’m not listening to anything. I’m snooping on the conversation of a couple of guys next to me.
I can’t help it.
I’ll paint you the picture. There is this guy probably mid 30’s who came and sat down with his Bible at a table with an older gentleman who, no lie, has a hook for a hand.
Yes, you read that right. . . I’m sitting 2 feet away from Captain Hook and I’m pretty sure he’s a Christian (‘though I’m not sure I want to ask him – just in case I’m wrong).
I wonder if he was in some whaling accident and if a Great White Whale got his arm.
Or maybe it was a crocodile?
But mostly I’m wondering if the loss of his arm is what caused him to turn to Jesus. It seems to me that there is always a death that turns us to Jesus. For me it was the death of my childhood, maybe for the good Cap’n, it was his arm.
Please don’t misunderstand me – God does not want horrible things to happen to us so that we turn to him – that’s manipulation and God does not manipulate. On the other hand, he doesn’t want us to be consumed by pain and regret so he redeems even the dark parts of our lives if we let him.
So now somewhere between the Easter Bunny and Captain Hook, I’m thinking about the deaths we die. More specifically the deaths we die so that others can live.
That’s the crux of what Easter is all about – Jesus died so that we could live.
We go to church, listen to the sermon, and we breathe a collective sigh of relief that our insurance premiums have been paid in full and our passes into heaven have been covered. But sometimes we forget that the story doesn’t end there.
We are supposed to die too.
We are supposed to die so that others can live.
We are supposed to die to our selfishness.
Because it’s how we overcome – and how others see love demonstrated on their behalf.
And they overcame him [Satan] by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they loved not their lives unto the death.
Revelation 12:11 (21st Century King James Version)
Sounds heavy and not entirely realistic in a culture where we don’t face the physical dangers of martyrdom that Christians in other countries face.
But we have the opportunity to die a thousand deaths every day. . .
. . . to be the first to say “I’m sorry” and “I love you”
. . .to offer to help a friend in need by cleaning, cooking a meal or watching the kids
. . .to pray for someone else’s struggle instead of only our own
. . .to listen
. . .to pay for someone else’s meal
. . .to pick up the phone, just to say “hey, I heard you were having a rough go”
. . .to not trash-talk our co-workers
. . .to be the one to initiate restoration in our families
This list could go on forever, because our deaths will be as unique as we are.
For some it will be sacrificing time or money, maybe both.
For others it may be laying down a dream.
For me a lot of times it is sacrificing sleep – God has been known to wake me up at night to pray for specific people.
For Jesus, it was the cross.
Captain Hook has now been joined by 2 other guys making his group a scurvy crew of 4. . . and they are working through a men’s Bible study together. I’m watching as he “walks the plank” – giving up his time to mentor these guys. It’s pretty moving stuff – to watch one person sacrifice even the smallest thing for another.
Now if I could just figure out how to get those calories in my Easter candy to die so that my diet could live. . .