Now when they bring you to the synagogues and magistrates and authorities, do not worry about how or what you should answer, or what you should say. For the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say (Luke 12:11-12, NKJV).
Sometimes we got new shoes for Easter Sunday morning. Not always. The family budget sometimes didn’t allow for that luxury. I always hoped for them. But to be honest, as a young kid, I was just as excited about the colorful baby Easter chick, its fine fuzzy feathers dyed blue or green or orange. The living little chick was a bonus that came free with each pair of Easter shoes.
And the eggs! Ah, yes, there’s another poignant childhood memory. Easter egg hunts. Cousins and friends and classmates. It was a rare spring holiday with a few special touches. It was a respite from the humdrum sameness of life in the Appalachian foothills that tumble gently into north Alabama.
On a loftier plain of Easters past, the annual Sunday sunrise service was something I anticipated with joy. It brought me to a higher level – trying to understand the cross, Jesus’s death, and His resurrection.
I don’t hear much of sunrise services anymore – at least not at a literal sunrise. But that’s what we did. We gathered before the sun rose. As the first rays of orange and purple and red cracked open the dark horizon, we sang with fervor, “Up from the grave He arose” and “He lives! He lives!” Then we shivered through a pastor’s short sermon before adjourning to the fellowship hall for breakfast as a church family.
My eighth Easter moved me still farther beyond a child’s concern with new shoes, color-dyed baby chicks, and egg hunts. This Easter Sunday added a critical and eternal layer to Easter as I took a step to my own faith in Christ. It was Easter Sunday morning just before my ninth birthday that I made a decision to follow Jesus.
Granted, it was certainly a child-like faith that has required a lot of growing in the years to follow – 65 of them, in fact. And thank God, I’m still challenged to grow.
This year, as my heart has turned again to Easter, I’m more than ever aware of its meaning. And I’m deeply stirred and challenged by a short anecdote recounted in Redeemed: Devotions for the Longing Soul, a book of devotional stories authored by Will Graham, grandson of the late evangelist Billy Graham.
“Easter Opportunities” – that’s what Will titled one of his most gripping devotions. Gripping because in it, he revealed a personal experience when he knew precisely what God was leading him to do. What to say. But he didn’t do it, didn’t say it.
Will and his wife Kendra had been for an Easter visit with his Graham grandparents. On the drive home, they stopped at a little gas station for fuel. He was soon standing behind another customer at the counter when the guy chuckled to the clerk.
“Nothing’s free anymore,” the man said.
“Immediately, God told me to speak,” Will confessed in Redeemed, “and He even provided the words to say: ‘Tell them what Easter is all about, how God paid the debt for you through His son, Jesus, and in return, He offers you salvation – for free.’” But he didn’t say it.
After reading Redeemed, I had the opportunity to hear Will teach at the Billy Graham Training Center, and he repeated that story for his audience. It was one of those times that humble a man – to repeat a personal failure face to face with fellow believers. It doesn’t paint him in a great light. But thank God, Will was challenged to grow.
Farther down in his story, he wrote: “I made a covenant with God that day that if I ever felt Him speaking through me again, I would share it boldly and not hold back. Who knows? Sharing the words God gives us may be the difference between someone spending an eternity in heaven or in hell.”
That’s the challenge for me. And I hope for you. Don’t miss an Easter opportunity. Tell someone about the power of the cross. The love of Jesus’s sacrifice. The life of His resurrection.
Celebrate. Up from the grave He arose!
Share: He lives!