Experiencing Easter In New Ways

In my job, I meet with people from all denominations and I am learning a lot from their spiritual stories and experiences.  Their stories inspired me  last year to attend Easter services with three different denominational churches.  By doing this, I learned about the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus in a new and refreshing way. I attended a Catholic Church, my daughter’s Covenant Church and then my own Free Church on Sunday morning. 

Ever since I attended the Catholic school in third and fourth grade (see part 2 of “My Story”), I have been intrigued by the beautiful depictions on the wall of the stations of the cross.  Therefore, I have always wanted to go through a ceremony with the stations of the cross.  I found an opportunity to do that the Friday before Easter last year.  I love the reverence that the Catholic church shows toward God and the opportunity to kneel while I prayed in church.  During the stations of the cross, you pray through the story of the crucifixion.  Because the story was told in a new format, I was able to pick up on details I did not pay attention to in the past.  The experience also inspired me go back to my Bible to look up details; such as, where did Veronica come from in the sixth station of the cross.

That next week, I was sitting at the Covenant church on Good Friday.  They had a cross beam laying on the altar along with two-inch nails that looked like miniature spikes.  At one point in the service, the Pastor sat down and people went up to the altar, picked up the little spikes and started pounding them into the beam.  I was shocked.  Feeling a bit self-righteous I thought “no way!  I am not going to do that.  That would be like crucifying Jesus all over again!”  Just as fast as I reacted with that response, an overwhelming impression came over me and I knew… “but I have already done that!”  I was humbled.  Jesus did not die just because the people of that day crucified Him.  He chose to die because of my sin as well.  Jesus says in Matthew 26:53 that God could have sent down the angels to save Him but He did not because Jesus knew He had to die in order for us to have a way for salvation. What Jesus did on the cross for me became more real in that moment than it had for years.   

God has created so many different people and uses all denominations in which He draws each of us into a relationship with Him.  I am going to step outside my box again this year and my goal is to attend a Maundy Thursday and/or Easter morning sunrise service.  I challenge you to experience the reality of the resurrection in a new way this year as well.

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God cares about the little things

Do you ever wonder if God cares about the little things? I have been thinking about this over the last couple weeks because I have had some pretty interesting conversations about God’s Will and prayer.

It is clear that God controls all things but He also tells us over and over again to pray at all times (Ephesians 6:18, Luke 11:9 and 1 Thessalonians 5:17) and about everything (Philippians 4:6). My favorite example is the story of the persistent widow in Luke 18. Verse one starts out by saying “Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.”

I love the moments when God becomes real in my life by specifically answering my prayers. Last weekend, I lost the R key from my iPad keyboard when I was in Wisconsin. I vividly remember telling myself to put it in my zippered coin purse so I would not lose it. When I got home, I went to my coin purse to get the key but it was not there. Then I proceeded to look through all the zippers in my purse, suitcase, and toiletry bags. I spent the next couple days trying to figure out how it could have disappeared from a sealed container. Not having the key was a problem because I do all my writing using my iPad

As I thought about what I could do to find the key, it made me wonder “does God care about the little things in my life? Would He answer a prayer about a lost key?” I have prayed and He has helped me find things in the past but I have always taken it for granted. This time, I stopped and made a conscious and deliberate effort to pray. Then I watched to see if God was concerned about my little problem. My prayer was that He would help me find the key in such a way that I would know He was the one that lead me to it. Therefore, every time I had a hunch of some place it could be, I followed through on that hunch. However, I followed through on a couple of those hunches to no avail. Then, Friday morning as I was loading my car to go to work, I made one more deliberate prayer saying “God, reveal the key in some way that doesn’t make sense so I know you answered my prayer.” I finished that prayer just as I was leaning over the driver’s seat and setting down my bags on the passenger side. I saw the rail under the seat and thought “would it be there because it fell out of my purse?” But it wasn’t. Then without moving, I shifted my gaze down just a little further and, to my amazement, there was the black R key sitting in the bottom of the black cup holder! All I could do was stare at it and laugh. I could imagine God got a kick out of it as well. How it got there is beyond me.

I cannot wrap up my thoughts about prayer without quoting the verse that encourages me to pray: “Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” (Matthew 7:9-11).

It is not that God cares about the little THINGS, He cares about ME and my needs. No matter how big or small. And, He cares about you as well!

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