Friday, April 2, 2010

Easter on the Detour

What could an early Sunday morning in October of 2009 possibly have to do with my spring break getaway this past week? Anyone traveling south on I40 knows a major rock slide has closed a portion of the road that runs through the Pigeon River Gorge, a section traveled by over 19,000 vehicles every day, including many trucks and a stream of tourists ... including our family four (with dog in tow) and our pop-up camper. Having heard about the resulting detour for months from others who have endured the added hour up and around the hazardous area, it was finally our turn to put in our time going where Mapquest assured us others had gone before.

One never knows what one will find on life's many detours. I wouldn't try to summarize it here, but being the night of Good Friday as I write, I have to note one sighting that was imprinted in my mind as we toured a new section of North Carolina. At first it just seemed like another flashing billboard on the west side of the northbound highway; it was advertising "Inflatable Rides!" in an array of colors worthy of a kaleidoscope. I am such a perfect "marketing target," and my eyes immediately told my brain I would Looooove to go on those inflatable rides ... amazing, since I don't even get on inflatable rides! Before we were past, Jeff commented on the same magnetic billboard just as we both noticed a small symbol and text in the lower right hand corner. Low and behold, it wasn't really advertising the rides at all! It was advertising an Easter service at a local church. The rides were just the way to get people to the church so they could hear something, well, a lot better than an inflatable ride.

I've been reading Lee Strobel's "The Case for Easter" during spring break, a book in which he poses investigative questions to experts about details of the resurrection. To one he asked, "Why did the women visit the tomb?" This is an excellent question about that Sunday, Resurrection morning, since the women would've known the tomb was covered by a boulder the size of one of those that crumbled from the cliffs of the Pigeon River Gorge and blocked the trucks and tourists on I40. They would've known that guards would've been at the tomb, too, so what were they thinking when they hoped to go anoint Jesus' dead body? Did they think they would take out the guards and roll away the stone in a great act of ancient girl power? I don't think so.

I would've loved to have known that group of women, those Jesus followers. Lee's expert makes it clear that though their goal may not sound feasible, it was the act of women who were devoted companions, followers, worshipers of the One they lost, and their desperate act was one of deep grief and hope that they might do something to express their total love. Those gals got up early and went to the tomb because they desperately loved and longed for their Jesus. Nobody had to flash a promise of something fun or exciting or happy or trendy in order to get them there. And I doubt any one of the group had on a new frock or bonnet in honor of the morning, and surely no one had prepared the first Easter sunrise casserole before starting their trek to the tomb. These gals were exhausted, grief stricken, probably struggling with fear, confused, and collectively broken.

Let's remember Paul's summary of the events in 1 Corinthians 15, a wonderful chapter to read this weekend:

1 Cor. 15:3-7

For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles...

My faith is what it is ... because of the Resurrection. A dead Jesus would make no difference in my life. His life changes everything. This is truly something worthy of celebration all on its own. This Sunday morning I pray that followers of Jesus and seekers of Jesus around the world will be drawn to the resurrection story, just because of love and longing, and I believe that's enough.

1 Cor. 15: 17-22

And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men. But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.

So that makes this life a bit of a detour on the way to our home in heaven with God, to live and walk with Him as man once did. Along the way, we have much to give praise for.

Alive in Christ,

4 COMMENTS ~ Click here to leave a COMMENT:

Susan Fleming said...

I love the picture of the women early on Easter morning, passionately loving, deeply grieving, yet seeking to be near, even in His death, the only One who had given them hope. And they were not disappointed!

You are absolutely right -- a dead Jesus would make no difference. But Praise God, He is NOT dead! He is alive, and that makes all the difference.

Ann said...

Praise God! I know I serve a living, loving, Breathing God. Thank God He loved us enough to send us his ONLY son Jesus to pay for all our sins. Our God is A-W-E-S-O-M-E!!
I hope your family has a blessed Easter!

Anonymous said...

Great post! Hope you and the family have a very happy Easter!

Kristi Stephens said...

"My faith is what it is ... because of the Resurrection. A dead Jesus would make no difference in my life. His life changes everything."

WELL SAID.

I love the account of the women at the tomb - especially of Mary's interaction with Jesus. The tender intimacy there is so striking to me - makes me want to know Him and love Him that much more.