I promise this won’t be a diatribe about how good Snicker’s Eggs are. But I don’t promise that won’t come up at least once.
I love the Christmas story and the Christmas season so so much. It’s joyful and it’s fun and it’s usually somewhat cold outside during it so I get to wear my dream jacket. So, I’m not knocking Christmas here. But everything from Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday holds such beauty in my life and I just- it’s the Christian holiday for me, okay?
Ash Wednesday 2009 was the first time I ever went to Summit and I remember so distinctly hearing “Amazing Grace” and having an experience unmatched until “How He Loves” at Southwind. After that service I went out and I bought the blue journal I’m just about finished with. Now I don’t remember what happened during those 40 days leading up to Easter, but I know for some reason I ended up back at Summit with that journal. One of the first things written in it is one of my favorite things Isaac said, and the first time I heard it was Easter 2009, “you’ve never locked eyes with someone who doesn’t matter to Jesus.” I go onto process those words through embarrassingly bad handwriting.
Isaac talked that Easter service a lot about Paul. About how Jesus came to Paul; walked with sinners; loved the bottom of the barrel. I’m pretty pumped to meet Paul in eternity ’cause I just can super relate to that dude. Plus I really want to thank him for writing Ephesians & Philippians.
This Lent season I didn’t give anything up. Partly because last year I gave up soda and I never picked it back up again and that just terrifies me that a simple “oh yeah I gave chocolate up for Lent” could feasibly turn into the rest of my life(plus, Snickers eggs come out during the Lent season SO-). Mainly I didn’t give anything up because my main goal was to hunker down in Philippians 4:8. It had been on my heart really since the beginning of 2014. I was struggling coming into this year with baggage of past sins of my own and others that would infiltrate my mind and drive me crazy. I wanted to get a grip on my thoughts and truly think about “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable…anything excellent..anything praiseworthy.” That’s where I wanted to sit leading up to Easter. So I did.
On Tuesday Ryan spoke about Peter–his role in the final days of Jesus’s life on Earth, the Resurrection and the years following. Every time I hear about or read the account of Peter’s denial of the Lord three times I always have the same thought– “only three times? I can accomplish that before I’ve gotten out of bed.” I say that because it’s true. Because I am incredibly sinful and have had multiple occasions where I will be in the midst of sinning–right smack in the middle of it– and want so desperately to knock it off and feel His presence wanting even more desperately for me to stop what I’m doing and realign myself with Him. And yet I’ve continued. I’ve let lies tumble out of my mouth; taken things farther and farther; been unapologetic-ally prideful. I don’t not know Truth. It’s something I’ve read, heard and experienced. But it’s also something I’ve scoffed at, avoided and kept at arms length.
God takes sin so seriously that He sent His only son as a sacrifice to spare you. Every time you willfully sin-it is like taking Jesus back to the cross and crucifying Him again. -Jim Keller
That’s why Lent this year for me was all about Philippians 4:8. I was going to look Truth in the face. Daily. Knowing full well that I will of course never be capable of not sinning this side of heaven. I know that’s the reality of a fallen world. It was that “willfully” thing that I wanted to get a grip on. Those moments I describe above. Of knowing in a moment of sinfulness that I’m messing up, that I’m taking advantage of the gift that was given to me, that there are repercussions to my actions and just not caring enough to stop.
What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me–practice these things and the God of peace will be with you. -Philippians 4:9
So what’s all this got to do with Easter? Right? I mean we’re still talking about a holiday, right?
After Peter messed up, after Jesus died for Peter’s sin and mine and yours, after Jesus rose from the dead–He goes to Peter. In the Gospel of John(which is just so good; the subtle humor in John’s Gospel is just so amusing to me) we see Jesus asking Peter to feed his sheep. We see Jesus doing for Peter what He does for each of us–looking past our mistakes, our shortcomings, our messiness and asking us to join Him. To be a part of what He’s doing in this world.
Our failures don’t change the fact that God uses us for His glory. -Ryan Warner
That’s really good news. Like. REALLY good news. And that’s why I love the story of Easter. I love seeing Jesus overcome the grave and prove that He is exactly who He says He is.
In Matthew 16, pre Peter’s thrice denial, Jesus says that Peter will be the rock upon which He will build His church. Jesus doesn’t come up to Peter after the Resurrection and say “oh man, was gonna let you be a pretty big deal and build my church and stuff, but you messed up. You’re out.” Nope. Jesus cleanses Peter of his messiness on the cross, dies for his sins, and rises three days later to remind him that there is work to be done and Peter is a part of it.
There is still work to be done. And despite every willful sin you and I have committed, we still get to be a part of that work. We have a place in His story. I’m really glad for that. I’m really glad we celebrate Easter and I’m reminded of that.
I’m also really glad that Snicker’s eggs exist. And I hope you are too.