How does your heart react to Easter? What does it mean to you?
Do you remember high school chemistry? I do. Beakers lined up on the lab table, all filled with mysterious liquids. I remember the little pieces of litmus paper that we dipped in the liquid to measure the pH level. I would submerge the paper and watch it change color, each new color corresponding to a different level of acidity. For whatever reason, this simple chemistry test has stuck with me. Unfortunately for my high school chemistry teacher, probably not for the reasons she intended.
Somehow this has always been a metaphor for me. When I stop and take an inventory of my inner life, nothing quite serves to measure my unity with Jesus and my connection to his gift for me quite like Easter. I eagerly await this season, and I watch. Like the litmus paper being dipped into my heart, my response to sin, the cross, the resurrection, and my utter need for redemption reveal much about my relationship with Him.
If I’m honest, a handful of years ago, Easter was just a fun holiday. I wanted it to mean more, but when I paid attention to my heart’s response, what I found was that I wasn’t in awe of the cross. I had known about Easter my entire life, but this yearly celebration didn’t seem transformational. This realization began to stir something in me. If the cross is something that men and women have literally died for, why can’t I regularly see it as the significant and life-altering thing that it is? I didn’t know it, but in this moment, Easter became my litmus test. I began to pray for Jesus to renew my understanding of the cross. I began to ask Him why I didn’t experience deep gratitude during this time of remembering. He slowly and steadily opened my eyes to my sin – the daily ways that my heart and my actions were not reflecting His heart and His ways. I began to let this impact me. This meant grieving my brokenness and how it impacted Jesus and others. It meant confessing it and repenting of it. I began to ask Him to help me grow in receiving His goodness and His kindness to me. I wanted to ingest his goodness in a way that nourished my whole being.
The next time Easter rolled around, I could tell something had shifted. I was celebrating His gift to me in a way that I had never experienced before. The honest connection I was developing with Him all year long was culminating in a richer understanding of the Easter season. I was discovering that Easter isn’t something you either understand or you don’t. The mystery of His gift is something that you grow deeper into. Every Easter has become a little like a birthday. I never know what I’m going to get. All year long, He is drawing me closer to himself. He is revealing more of my humanity, my sin, and need for him, and he is also revealing more of Himself and his deep love for me. But Easter is the day that my response to His gift reveals just how much deeper He has taken me throughout the year. So, as I walk through Holy Week and my heart is reminded of His suffering for my sake, I pay attention. How is my heart responding to these truths? Do I find the cross to be a greater treasure than it was the year before? Do I find myself utterly transformed by His goodness? Am I in awe of his love that is so long-suffering? I wait in anticipation for Easter morning when my heart will celebrate all the ways that he has brought me closer to himself. Like that old litmus paper, my heart is saturated with the glory of his goodness, and I see what He has made new in my heart this year.