Let it be a glorious occasion where many stand to witness that indeed we put our feet in His tracks and let our hands be His hands in extending mercy across the span of our lives.
The jonquils and the lilies are poking through the ground, adorning themselves in a brilliant array of colors. The emerald grass spreads like a carpet under the budding trees. New life rises in majestic wonder as spring comes again.
The store windows glitter with Easter baskets, colored eggs, fuzzy yellow chicks and plush white bunnies with pink ears. Amidst the coming of spring, the world makes ready for a season of buying and selling. Bibles sit on the shelf, dust- covered and closed.
The story of One who gave all for the salvation of His people goes unread. Oh, it’s not that we want to forget. No! It’s just that life on the fast track takes action and more action. There is shopping to do, programs to watch, radios and iPods to listen to, children to take to and fro, meals to prepare, laundry to do, phone calls to make and the list goes on and on.
Who has time to ponder? Who has time to sit down? Who has time to stop and even take notice of the wonder of spring, let alone read an ancient story and try to make sense of the whole thing?
After all, it’s written in old English, and takes time to decipher the meaning. It’s easier to read a commentary, watch a re-enactment on TV or listen to a scholar make sense of it on the Discovery Channel.
Easter is here, and it’s just another blip in the churning calendar of time. It is just bunnies, Easter egg hunts, a yawn and a stretch after a sermon. It’s just a moment in the rush to climb on the up side of the down escalator. No matter how frantically we climb, we never get to the top.
Christ was born in a stable, grew up a lowly carpenter’s son, preached in the dusty streets and makeshift houses of an impoverished country, where He was hated and finally killed because of prejudice and jealousy on the part of those who should have been His friends.
Christ’s entire life was dedicated to doing “His Father’s will.” He comforted those who needed comfort, healed those who needed healing and mourned with those who had lost loved ones. His life’s mission was to heal the sick, feed the hungry, to open the doors to the prisoner and give light to those who walked in darkness.
How different the path He walked in the hills of Galilee than the busy streets we meander through in the milling traffic of our modern world. His simple request of “Come follow me” seems an archaic whisper in the din of a noisy world toppling with fear of what is yet to come. His life was so simple. Ours is so bloated with complications.
What does it mean to follow Christ, and how can we do it in the modern tangle of confusion? Do you remember the childhood game Follow the Leader? You choose a leader and do exactly what he or she does. You mimic the facial expressions and the hand, arm and body movements as you try to place your feet right in the leader’s tracks. Christ gave us some clues as to how to follow Him. First, you get your priorities correct. Align your compass.
“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” (Matt. 6: 33) and “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” (Ex. 20: 3) are the first steps in getting it right with the “leader.”
Why would Jesus want to put Himself first and expect us to follow Him? He was the perfect example. He always put His father first. He often said, I came to do the will of my Father. In our modern world, the first things seem to be the most pressing things. The ringing phone, the bill collector, the salesman, the shopping, the housecleaning, the magazine on the table, they all take precedence over reading the Bible and humble heart-felt prayer.
The service to self like applying make-up, shopping and wearing stylish fashions, keeping up with the rise and fall of the stock market and checking e-mail and Facebook, they all take precedence over staying on your knees long enough to get a clear answer of what service the Lord wants us to perform today.
We hear about suffering and feel a twinge of sadness, but determine in the same breath that we can’t do anything. We are too busy climbing up the down escalator. Of course we don’t call it climbing, we call it the “rat race.” I guess we might as well be rats for all the good our lives will have been when it’s all over. Those who think the “one who dies with the most toys wins,” is going to be sadly mistaken.
We were born to become like Christ and to do His will. We were born to bless others and leave something of value behind when we leave this life.
“A world should be a little better because a man has lived” (quote from the movie Little Lord Fauntleroy). Who will remember the clean kitchen? Who will remember the perfect shade of lipstick on your lips? Who will remember the fashion you wore so meticulously and the fingernails you glued on every time they broke off? Who will care about your perfectly well-set hair and mascara?
Those things are just ripples in a bucket of water. They last long enough for you to pull your hand out of the water before they fade away. What eternity records and treasures is the little acts of kindness and the soft words of gratitude. It records the arms bearing the burden of a sorrowing neighbor. It records the extra miles that were walked in reaching out to those who have persecuted you and used you despitefully. Eternity remembers the nights spent listening to the prattle of a troubled teen that really isn’t looking for answers, just understanding. It records the open doors to your warm house and your glowing fire, and the warm bread in the hands of those who have forgotten what love is.
If we get the first things right, everything else will fall into place. We only have 24 hours in a day, but there are myriad of chances for service and charity waiting everywhere. Sometimes it’s just sitting and putting a puzzle together with your child. Sometimes it is just dropping whatever you’re doing to take a loaf of bread to a neighbor. Sometimes it’s noticing the person behind you in the grocery line and smiling at them as you offer your place in line because they have fewer groceries than you do. Maybe it’s noticing the tears in someone’s eyes at the doctor’s office and listening to their story instead of feeling embarrassed and burying your face in the latest fashion magazine.
Easter, like Christmas, comes once a year, but Christ didn’t do His work just on holidays. He was a 24/7 Man. He was always willing to give up His comfort to provide comfort to those around Him. I’m sure there were times when the crowd pressed around Him with selfish demands, disinterested curiosity or when the Pharisees’ and the Sadducees’ trick questions were annoying and frustrating, but Christ never turned anyone away with a rude or unkind comment. His words often cut to the very center of the wicked person’s heart, but Christ was never intentionally unkind. He always put first things first and never forgot where His priorities were.
As Easter comes again this year, we can make it more than a blip on the ever-churning calendar. It can be filled with eternal treasures that are written in the memories of our spouses, children, neighbors and friends. Even our enemies can remember the Easter you took time to extend a hand to bridge the gap of animosity. Life is moving so swiftly. It won’t be long before we join our quiet neighbors in the cemetery to wait for that day when we will meet the Prince of Peace to report how well we followed His lead.
Let it be a glorious occasion where many stand to witness that indeed we put our feet in His tracks and let our hands be His hands in extending mercy across the span of our lives. PD
Carrots Glazed in Honey
2 cups sliced carrots
1 (2” x 1/2”) lemon peel strip
1 1/2 Tbs. honey
1/8 tsp. salt
2 Tbs. lemon juice
1/4 tsp. diced tarragon
1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp. ground pepper
In a medium sauce pan, combine carrots, lemon peel, honey, and salt. Add enough water to cover the carrots. Bring to a boil over medium high heat; boil vigorously, stirring once or twice, until liquid is nearly evaporated, approximately 15 minutes.
Reduce heat to medium; stir carrot mixture until coated with glaze. Remove from heat. Add lemon juice, tarragon, nutmeg and pepper as desired. Garnish with lemon peel and serve immediately.