In the last week I have been asked a very similar question on two separate occasions. The question went along the lines of~ What has God done for you this year?
I am embarrassed to admit that both times my mind went blank.
My immediate thought was~He took my dad. And for some reason I couldn’t get past that.
I didn’t want to answer. I wanted to get up and leave the room, partially because younger family members were waiting for my reply and partially because I’m a pastor’s wife, so shouldn’t I have my act together? Shouldn’t I come up with a million things God has done for me?
I could have plastered on a fake smile and given a rehearsed, cliche answer on God’s abundance. I knew all the right words to say. In my heart I know He has given me countless blessings, but in that moment that was all that I could think of.
My dad. He took my dad.
As I contemplated what to write for a post this week I knew that I wanted it to go along with Easter, but again my mind was drawing a blank. For some reason I had writer’s block. I mentioned it to my husband only minutes before I was asked for the second time~
what has God done for you this year?
I went down to my bedroom later and felt shame that I hesitated and could not answer in a way that would glorify my Savior.
As I lay in bed in the quiet darkness that night, I mulled over that question again and again and I truly believe God answered me.
A tender compassionate answer full of mercy and grace, patience and love~
Yes I took your dad Charisse, but that’s not the end of your story. I took him to heaven. I brought him home. Not only is he in the presence of the many loved ones that have gone on before him, but he is in My presence. That has given Me joy. He is home with me.
And I wept.
If it wasn’t for Easter. If it wasn’t for the horrific death Christ endured on the cross, my dad wouldn’t be in heaven today.
The breathtakingly beautiful part of the glorious story of Easter doesn’t end with the horror of that death. It begins with life after death and the incomprehensible knowledge that~
Jesus did it all with joy.
He was beaten and nailed to that cross. He hung in agony as He took the sins of all mankind upon Himself. He died for me and for you and he did it with joy.
Did you get that? Do you truly understand that?
He did it with JOY.
Because that’s how much He loves us.
That’s how much He loves my dad. That’s how much He loves you.
No matter what we go through or how hard our circumstances are, I have this hope to cling to~ Jesus did it with joy. For me.
If I had to do it over, my answer would be so different. God has done so many amazingly beautiful things for me each and every day. I know there will always be trials, there will always be sorrow and pain, sickness and suffering. There will always be heartache in the permanent form of death, but none of these things are the end of our story.
Love is. Jesus is. Heaven is.
And Easter is our promise of that joy.
What has God done for me this year? Everything. He’s done everything. And to know that He has done it with joy makes my heart sing. A love like that is almost unbelievable. How do I know it exists? I know because not only has He told me in His word, He continually reminds me when sorrow makes my heart forget.
I truly believe God gave me writer’s block because He wanted to be the author and finisher of my faith. Easter is the perfect first chapter. It’s ending is a beginning. A beginning overflowing with pure love and absolute joy.
Easter. For the joy that was set before Him He endured the cross that we might become the children of God. My dad is partaking in that reality in heaven even now. I get to partake of that reality here on earth.
All because of Jesus.
And because of that reality, my story has only just begun.
“Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God...”
1 John 3:1
“For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.”
“Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.”