He changed the way we look at royalty. He was born in a stable alongside the donkeys, lived as a carpenter amongst the poor, and died on a cross surrounded by criminals. He said, he who is greater will be the least, and he who is least will be greatest. He impressed the scholars at the age of 12 in the temple. He turned the water into wine. He made the lame to walk, the blind to see, and the deaf to hear. He filled and forgave an adulterous woman at the well who was spiritually empty. He commanded the demons out of a mad man and into pigs. He diverted His eyes from a naked woman pulled to the town square to be stoned. His quiet words made the stones fall from the fists of an angry mob. His voice made the fishermen to drop their nets and cast their hearts, the dead to arise and walk, a tiny tax collector to climb a tree for just a glimpse, and the 4,0000 to hear without a microphone. He fed thousands with a little boys lunch. He cradled the children, and blessed them, and washed the disciples feet. He fasted in a desert for 40 days and resisted temptations. He wept seeing the tears of a friend. He walked on water, calmed the storms, and filled the fishing nets. He chastised prideful giving, while blessing a simple widow who gave her only mite with all her might. He took care of His mother and showed respect to women. He told some great stories! He fulfilled the prophesies. He forgave being abandoned, denied, and humiliated. He forgave being tortured, hung, and stabbed. He was quiet in a tomb, but on the third day, He arose. All of this and more, within 33 years. Meet my Jesus.
My gift of imagination led me to Jesus on October 12, 1975. I was in church that day, wearing my fresh laundered dress, leotards and braids. I was clean and pressed on the outside, but on the inside I was tormented for lying. You see, the week before, I was talking in church, and my brother whispered he was going to tattle. I would get a spanking, so I tearfully pleaded with him. My father saw my tears and asked, “Do you want to accept Jesus?” He had this hopeful look on his face. Mentally, I conspired, if I said yes, I would beat Brandon to the punch sort of speak. It was a great idea! I nodded and wiped my face.
I was spirited into the back of the baptism room, and the pastor and I went through the appropriate scriptures. I recited his prayer word for word, and when I emerged from the building, my Dad was waiting and swept me in his arms for a big embrace.
“You have made your Dad a happy man today.”
For a week, I felt ashamed.
The next Sunday, for the first time I listened to the words of hymns. First, we sang “The Old Rugged Cross.”
I pictured Jesus hanging there, bloody and beaten, and everyone being mean to Him, and laughing while He was in pain. It hurt my heart.
Then, we sang, “Softly and Tenderly”.
I pictured Jesus sitting in the garden with all the children on His lap, and asking me to join Him.
Last we sang, “Just as I Am.”
I looked down at my leg braces, I wore from the waist down and turned in legs. Physically, I was what my fellow students liked to call a “Cripple.” They often made me “it” while playing tag, because I couldn’t catch anyone. I was the butt of the jokes and the victim of pranks, but Jesus loved me just as I was…outcast and all. Now, add to my handicaps, I was a liar.
I pictured Jesus, opening his arms, and telling me to come Just As I Am. I ran to Him in my imagination….perfectly straight.
On October 12, 1975, I sobbed in my hands. My father looked down at me, curiously. “What’s wrong?” he said.
“I lied! I am not a Christian! I just did it, to make you happy.”
After everyone left the church, and the lights went out, Daddy and I knelt by the pew, and I accepted Christ.
Some say, they feel no different when they accept Christ. I felt hope. I stopped sobbing and began to see Jesus as Lord. I was lifted from the tomb of sorrow, into the light of grace.
Before every Easter, I admit I return to that tomb, if only for a short time. It is dank, dark, and quiet. He lies there wrapped in blood soaked linens. I cradle His head on my lap, and whisper.
“I was not worth all of this. I’m so sorry.”
I mourn for the way my Jesus died. Did He have to suffer so? My heart hurts. My eyes tear. In the tomb, I hear muffled conversations of insignificance, words often having to be repeated, for I am in the tomb, and find it hard to pay attention. It is good to visit the tomb, if only to remember grace came at a great cost. A great cost to my Jesus. Faithfully, God coaxes me out for we must never remain in the tomb. The burial cloth becomes flat in my lap, it is time to leave. There is light. There is clarity. There is hope…. For He is risen….He is risen indeed!