3/31/13

Bare in the light (Easter '13)

Let me one of the last to wish you a very happy Easter day!

He is risen.

He is risen indeed!

I always feel like I've gone though a spiritual death and re-birth after Easter. When I was growing up I was always jealous of those Christians who could name their conversion experience and talk about their lives Before Christ and After Christ, definitively. Me- well, I grew up in the church. I can't name a moment when I became a Christian; instead I grew into my faith like I grew into my very body. Little by little. Inch by inch. Maturing slowly and surely.

I've learned to set aside those jealous feelings and see the beauty in my own story. Well over a century ago an American pastor named Horace Bushnell wrote a book called Christian Nurture and in it, he wrote once sentence that summarizes the goal of nurturing and educating a child in the faith: "A child is to grow up a Christian and never know himself or herself as being otherwise."

It wasn't until I first heard that quote that I realized that I am the result of spiritual nurture gone right. I am a person who grew up in the light of God's grace and I have never known myself otherwise. It is a gift that humbles me and makes me sing in worship: that I have never known myself outside of Christ. Whatever struggles I've faced in my faith (and Lord knows there have been struggles), they've all been struggles with God. My own spiritual version of Jacob's bodily wrestle with God.

I've begun praying that my son would know himself the same way I have: always in the light of God's grace.

But even when you've always known yourself in the light of grace, you can't be blind to your sin. And I really mean can't as in cannot, not shan't as in should not.  You CANNOT be blind to your sin when you live in the light of God's grace because you are laid bare before him. When I was in college my then-professor and now-friend Jessica gave a chapel message from 1 John 1:5, "God is light; in him there is no darkness at all." I will never forget how I felt when she stood up at the podium and told us that there is no crevice, no crook, no shadow, not even the tiniest sliver or crack of darkness under which we can hide any part of ourselves before God. There is no darkness in God and when we are in God, we are totally bare before him in the light. 

Every word of gossip I've spoken to a friend "in secret"- laid bare before him.  Every action that's been motivated by pride- bare. Every impure thought- bare. Every lazy hour- bare. Every glutinous indulgence- bare. Every envious glance- bare. Every eye roll- bare. Every lie- bare. Every shameful thing I've ever thought. Ever done. Every said. Bare. God is light and in him there is no darkness at all. 

That's the heaviness I felt on Friday. The crushing weight of all my sins and the red hot embarrassment and shame I feel when I realize that I'm wearing them all, naked before him. 

But as hot as my shame burns on Friday, so cool is the peace and pure is the joy I know on Sunday. 

How can I say it better than this famous hymnic line: 

My sin- oh the bliss of this glorious thought!- 
my sin, not in part but the WHOLE,
was nailed to the cross 
and I bear it no more 
Praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord oh my soul!   

Through his death and resurrection, Christ has done away with my sin. And now what is the truth? That as I stand in the light of God's grace, I have no need for a crack or a crevice or a shadow. I stand in that light completely bare before God without any sin! I bear it no more.  

In God there is no crack
no crevice
no shadow 
no hiding place
beacuse in God, though Christ, 
there is no embarrassment
no shame
no guilt
no punishment
no sin.  

There is only forgiveness. 

I cannot point to the exact hour of my conversion, but live in the death and resurrection of Christ every single day. I have been made pure before God, and daily he continues to purify my as I learn what it means to live out the grace I have received. 

God is light and in him there is no darkness of all.  Praise the Lord! 

*

Walking Arie through his first Easter was a joy. We read him the Easter story for the first time and watched his expression move from one of somber concern with the crucifixion to one of great relief and happiness with the resurrection.  He even shouted "YAY!" at the end of one reading. 

He is risen! YAY! 
YAY indeed! 

We participated in traditional Easter celebratory activities. On Wednesday night our church had a special service in which we learned about the meaning of the Old Testament feasts and rituals and how Christ fulfilled them. At one point there was live goat on stage! In response Arie whispered to me repeatedly, "MAMA! HORSEY!!" I set him straight.

On Saturday we dyed Easter Eggs, which thrilled Arie to no end. I don't know if it's life post-orphanage or if it's just his personality, but he is continually overjoyed by new experiences! I wish you could have heard him during the egg dyeing process. He was all wide-eyed and giggles and squeals. 



Inspired by friends of ours, John and I led Arie to his chocolate Easter bunny by leaving a trail of jelly beans from his bed all the way down to his seat at the kitchen table. Originally the idea was to do this in the morning but due to our cat we would not leave jelly beans on the floor all night and due to me, there was no way I was getting up before Arie on a weekend morning. So post-nap it was! 


Warning if you are not Canadian I apologize for the bad word I'm about to type. In Canada we use this word more freely than we do here in the States! I'm not saying it's right. I'm just saying it's true.

After we woke Arie up to discover the trail of jelly beans, I stepped backward over the beans and scattered the trail. And then I dropped a bunch. And missed the photo opportunity to capture him first discovering the beans. Which led me to mutter, "Oh shit!" 

Well I guess you shouldn't mutter words like that in front of kids who are still learning English because Arie definetely thought the jelly beans were called "oh shits" and he began picking them up exclaiming happily, "One oh shit!.... TWO oh shit!... etc." 

Don't worry we eventually got him straightened out. 

Keeping it real. 


Our last activity was an Easter Egg hunt, which rivaled the Easter Egg dyeing process in terms of sheer delight. For each on of the dozen plastic eggs he discovered, Arie shouted, "OH! MORE! OH BOY! OH WOW!!" 


We put two jelly beans in each one and by the end his mouth was so full he was drooling purple, blue, and pink. 


Through the weekend our little man has been fighting a head cold so I stayed home from church with him this morning, 


but we had an incredible afternoon with our good friends Kristin and Dominic. Actually our original plan was to get together with one more couple and their daughters, but the other family had a stomach bug going around their house so we had to cancel last minute. Being that the stomach-bug-hit family were hosting, we ended up being without meat and potatoes but we still had a great time! We enjoyed a simple meal of soup, salad, and a last minute apple crisp and hours of long conversations and dream-sharing. 


Arie spend most of the day sleeping and sitting on our couch so we ended the day with a short lake-side walk. 


Blessed Easter these last few hours. Revel in the bare naked light-filled purity Christ has given unto you. 

I'm spending the last few hours putting that beautiful light into my hair! Going bleach-white blond for the summer! Goodbye red hair! Wish me luck. Hopefully I can get my eyebrows to match too. 

xo

PS: April Fool's on that last part. I'm a few hours early, but hey- couldn't resist. Night! 

6 comments:

  1. Anne Leeson3/31/2013

    Lovely...thank you, Jill! Happy Easter!

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  2. I needed the laugh today-- the egg hunt and your hair.

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  3. I love this: "It wasn't until I first heard that quote that I realized that I am the result of spiritual nurture gone right. I am a person who grew up in the light of God's grace and I have never known myself otherwise."
    I was also raised in Christianity, and it's something I struggle with occasionally. It can feel like stories of radical conversion are somehow worth more than mine of simply following what I was raised in, so I love the reminder that growing up that way is a profound blessing. Thanks Jill!

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  4. The jelly bean story... top favorite of all time! Language learning with young children is the best. I appreciate your thoughts on being raised up a Christian - I too felt jealous because I never knew when I "got saved." Happy Easter! Can't wait to see your hair ;)

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  5. AH! Wonderful post! :-) What a fun Easter for Arie! :-)

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  6. what a beautiful first Easter with your son!!

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