This is the Day

exploring the soul's quest for joy

Month: April 2017

The Inconvenience of Easter

Jerusalem, Easter 2008


Easter is an inconvenient holiday.


Overshadowed by that other big celebration of the Christian faith – Christmas, Easter is increasingly overlooked in our present culture. It seems that once little children outgrow the desire for new Easter dresses and the fun of an egg hunt, that Easter itself gets put on a shelf, tucked inconspicuously behind other outgrown memories of childhood past. Where the real story of Christmas continues to find a place in our culture next to the jolly man in the red suit, the real story of Easter seems all but forgotten.


But can you really blame us? Where Christmas attracts, Easter repels.


The story of Christmas is, at it’s simplest telling, that of a baby born to commoners, simple people, the poorest of the poor. It’s the birth of a baby who grows up to be a disrupter of all that is unjust and wrong in the world. One who teaches and lives by the Golden Rule. One who preaches mercy and love and equality for all, and lives as an example for all to follow. A man who walks his talk.


What’s not to love about the birth of a sweet baby?


And if you can lay aside the one small inconvenience of Christmas – the part that questions this baby’s paternity and asks us to believe that he is the son of God – there is nothing but sweetness and hope and love in this holiday story.


But then there’s Easter.


Easter begins well enough. A triumphal entry into a holy city. The baby has grown to be a man and enters riding on a donkey. The crowd recognizes the significance of this auspicious event and chooses to hail him as their king. Chants of Hosanna erupt all around. Palm branches carpet the roadway of a king.


Just days later, the king is feasting with his friends, and this is where our story takes its inconvenient turn. At table with the king is the betrayer. And the deny-er. Things will spiral downward quickly.


The money is exchanged. Thirty pieces of silver, to be exact. The kiss is given. Swords clash, until the king says, peace, be still. And he is taken away.


Taken away to be tried. Beaten. Flogged. Stripped. Humiliated. Spat upon.


This is no longer a nice little story. This is no longer a celebration tale for innocent young ears to hear. There will be no adoration. No worship of the one hailed as king. No gifts given or knees bowed. The humble feeding trough has been replaced by the humiliating and life-destroying cross.


To get to Easter, you have to travel through the inconvenience of the Crucifixion.


It’s so much easier to think about a newborn baby than it is a crucified God-man. It’s uncomfortable, painful even, to ponder his claim that he died for us. What does that even mean to us 21st century self-sufficient types who would rather earn everything that we have?


It’s all rather inconvenient. But that’s not where this story ends.


If you can make it as far as the Crucifixion, contemplating the gruesomeness of the innocent man’s death, grasping in some measure the weight of it all, your journey into the inconvenient still isn’t finished. From there, you must travel through to the fantastical. The impossible. The miraculous.


The Resurrection.


It’s all quite inconvenient, isn’t it?


It’s so much easier to live in the jubilation and Hosannas of Palm Sunday. The Cross of Good Friday, and the Resurrection of Easter Sunday require so much more of us. To accept the claim of Good Friday is to acknowledge that a sacrifice was made for me. That a life was given for mine. To accept the claim of Easter is to acknowledge that there was an empty tomb, that there was indeed a Resurrection.


It really is quite inconvenient. There is no dancing around these claims.


Christmas requires so much less of us. Less soul searching. Fewer questions that demand answers.


The story of Easter requires that we face the ugly brutality of the cross. That we accept the mind-bending impossibility of the resurrection. To do any less is to deny the narrative in its entirety.


If we are willing to ponder the deep questions of Easter, moving beyond its inconveniences, we will discover that at the heart of both the Christmas and Easter narratives stands this one singular theme: God, the great lover of humanity, giving his own life, that we might experience life to the full with him.


How might you respond to the inconvenience of Easter this year?


Traveling in the Fog


The year my daughter was born was one of the “traveling in the fog” seasons of my life. An extended period of time when I had to learn to walk by faith and not by sight.


For 18 months I had been watching and scanning two growing masses in my thyroid, praying that the medication would shrink them enough to remove the constant threat of cancer. Scans every 3 months, always preceded by prayers that the medication would work so that I would be healthy enough to care for my two young sons. It was a season of living one day at a time, in hope, believing in God’s faithfulness.


Then came the good news that one of the two masses had reduced in size and I was given the green light to have another baby. Deep exhale. Had I really been holding my breath for all those months? Moments of peace. Days filled with expectation, forgetting that potential threat still loomed.


Eight months pregnant, my belly swollen with the promise of new life, yet my heart and mind were once again swollen with the fear of disease and death.


The masses were growing again.


Lying in the hospital bed after the doctors had successfully removed my thyroid, missing my two sons and my 6-week old baby girl, my husband accepted a job that would relocate us from Florida to Connecticut. Six weeks post-partum, 2-days post thyroidectomy, I had less than 6 weeks to buy a house, sell a house, and move a family of five across 10 states.


That I thought my husband’s timing on the job change was less than desirable is an understatement! Major house moves require a major plan and I didn’t have any mental or emotional capacity to develop even an ill-conceived plan.


I was still living one day at a time.


Learning how to care for a new baby girl amidst the frenetic activity of 2 energetic boys who were always on the move. Learning how to relax and rejoice and live without the constant worry of cancer. Learning how to get out of a chair with a baby in my arms and a neck that had just been cut open. (Who knew we contracted our neck muscles so much every time we get out of a comfy chair?)


But when the moving trucks show up, we have no choice but to move forward, plan or no plan.



Little did I know when we moved to Connecticut that another fog season would soon be rolling in, this one longer and deeper than the first. Month after month, new medical crises would emerge, feeling like blow after mighty blow to my desire to protect and care for my family. During our brief 3 years in Connecticut, my 3 little children would suffer through 5 cases of Lyme disease and my middle son would be diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.


Fierce Mama Love cries out: Why can’t I keep my children safe? Regret cries out: Why did we ever come here? Fear cries out: How can I ever protect my children in this disease-ridden place?


The health struggles weren’t limited to my children. My in-laws came for a weekend visit in October of that year and stayed with us until Easter, because the day after their arrival, my mother-in-law was diagnosed with an extremely rare cancer where the only treatment available for her was in New York.



These are the seasons when we long for a light to guide our steps and allow us to see where the road is taking us. What we want is a searchlight. The strong sure beam of a lighthouse lantern to illumine our way, warning us of danger, spotlighting the boulders in our path that would be sure to pull us under. What we want is a light that is bright enough to assure us that we will make it to the shoreline, safe and sound.


What God promises instead is a flashlight.


A little handheld beam that illumines exactly two steps in front of us.


Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.


Tucked in the middle of the longest chapter in scripture, a chapter that praises the beauty of God’s written word and his spoken words to us, the psalmist reveals exactly how much light we are given to guide our way.


Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.


How very much like God. The God who fed his children manna in the wilderness – exactly enough for just one day at a time – is the same God who asks us to live by faith, one day at a time.


How I long to see the entire journey before I decide to follow. I want to know how much it will cost me. When the pain from these hard seasons becomes too overwhelming, I want to curl up and escape it all. I want to know that I, and those I love, will be safe.


Instead, God asks, will you follow me, trusting that I won’t leave you but will guide you through the raging waters? Will you let me lead you to the place where your trust has no limits? Don’t you see that the safest place for you is right by my side. My love for you knows no limits, because it cost me everything.


The light he shines on our path is not enough to see our way through the entire journey, but when coupled with faith, it is enough for one day.


Enough grace.


Enough peace.


Enough hope.


Just for today.




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