Ever dive into a body of water and stay under longer than you first intended? Suddenly you realize you need air...now! So you swim for the surface, only to become aware that you're in deeper than you'd realized. Remember that panicked feeling? You unleash all your mental and physical strength and rocket upward, lungs screaming for help; then you explode through the surface gasping repeatedly and audibly. Never has a blue sky and beaming sun looked more beautiful or felt more wonderful. You bask in the warm breeze, fully alive... and grateful.
That's how I feel at Easter. Years ago I was deep in the waters of sin, unaware really, of their debilitating impact on my life. Like a swim in the ocean, it was all kind of exhilarating...yet deceptively deadly, but I was too foolish to even care. Like the rest of the "beach crowd" I was laughing, having a big time, feeling jubilant and invincible. But ultimately that whole scene grew stale, so I started looking for new sources of meaning and fulfillment; something, anything, to drive away my inner emptiness.
Guess what? Nothing worked. Nothing. Friend, that's what happens when we swim away from the grace of God. My soul was gasping, but I refused to acknowledge it or let anyone know. "Rugged individualist," I called myself...a "survivor," and I swam on.
Then one day I surfaced...finally! I burst upward through the darkness and discovered light; real light. It wasn't an earth-shattering, tumultuous experience; rather it was quiet and gentle, as if I'd simply been swept ashore by the gentle waves of God's love. I can't really explain it, even today. I just knew God had come. Grace had found me, and I was at peace. I felt like singing and weeping simultaneously. But most notably, I felt free.
Lot's of stuff moved to the back burner in my life that day...self-will, the desire for others' approval, the false belief that God could never, ever love me. But other things sprang to life...purpose, peace, assurance, understanding...and oh, blessed HOPE! One can live with anything, as long as there's hope, don't you think?
Are you floundering these days? Swimming in choppy waters? Going under. Feeling overwhelmed? Maybe just treading water? Hey, it's okay. It's actually a good thing. It might be the last step you take on the path to surrender--of dying to self--of abandoning the false assurance of your own strength. Sometimes we need a breakdown to experience a breakthrough. Embrace it.
You know something? Jesus understands all of it. On the cross He gasped for air too; lungs on the verge of collapse. He experienced darkness, grief, and unrelenting despair...and then...he died. The end. Or so it seemed. So unfair, so cruel, this divine judgment. How could One so wonderful have died so horribly?
But the story wasn't over; Sunday came! Early in the morning at sunrise, air rushed back into His lungs like a divine tsunami. The ground shook violently. The stone covering his tomb rolled away as if totally weightless. In THAT unimaginable moment all hell screamed in terror! Demons took flight...and up from the grave He arose! Paul described it thusly, "Death, where is your sting? Grave, where is your victory. Thanks be to God who gives us victory through our Lord, Jesus Christ." (1 Cor. 15:55-57)
Hey...let that truth wash over you, friend...like warm ocean waves carrying you toward the heart of God. Your Lifeguard has come, dear one, and He's alive...forever!
Happy Easter. God loves you more that you can possibly imagine...and death could not hold our King! Dive in and celebrate. The water is spectacular!