I had an experience in the summer of ’95 that forever impacted the way I see the world–and myself.
We were living in Texas at the time, and my youngest of four was ony two years old.
Our church was planning it’s first-time-ever overseas mission trip to teach conversational English and share the gospel in Poland.
Many of the preparations had already taken place when I felt very distinctly that I was supposed to go.
Very uncharacteristically of me, I walked the aisle of our church and confessed to my pastor-husband that I felt very strongly that I was supposed to go on this mission trip. (Normally, I would have talked to him in private first!) Even though I was unsure of the “why” and the “how”, I knew that God was asking me to do one of the hardest things I had ever done in my life–trust Him with my children. Doug and I had committed our children to the Lord even before they were born and had often confessed that these precious children were gifts from God. As a mother, I prayed for my children and entrusted them to His care. This was different. I had to choose to obey–and do something that would solidify my trust.
Knowing that God had called me in that special moment was what sustained me while I was away. I really couldn’t begin to imagine the reason God wanted me to go (when He very well coud have chosen someone else!), but obedience for me didn’t demand an answer to the question, “why”.
The population of the city that we were conducting an ESL school in was over 200,000 with no evangelical church.
We arrived on a Saturday, so Sunday morning we walked the streets of the city to our meeting place for a time of worship. I wish I had a picture from that day–the hundreds of people standing out on the lawn of a great cathedral. They weren’t moving or talking. Thinking that this meant that there was no room for them on the inside, I asked our interpreter what was happening. His reply went something like this,
“Oh, they’re ‘going to church‘.” “They won’t even go in. They will just stand outside and wait until it’s over, just so they can say they went to church!”
WOW. I thought to myself then, “how sad that these people are missing what it’s all about!”
That was almost 20 years ago now, and the memories bring a fresh awareness.
We will celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Messiah and Savior this week, and many will attend an Easter service somewhere–just so they can say, “I went.” It should break our hearts that so many in our country are missing the meaning of Easter. Don’t get me wrong, I’m thankful that they come–and I pray many will come–and that they will hear the message of Easter:
“You are also saved by it, if you hold to the message I proclaimed to you—unless you believed for no purpose.
For I passed on to you as most important what I also received:
that Christ died for our sins
according to the Scriptures,
that He was buried,
that He was raised on the third day
according to the Scriptures,
and that He appeared to Cephas,
then to the Twelve.
Then He appeared to over 500 brothers at one time;
most of them are still alive,
but some have fallen asleep.
Then He appeared to James,
then to all the apostles.”
1 Corinthians 15:2-7
So, WHY did He die?
“For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God… It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ…” I Peter 3:18-22
He paid the price for my sin and yours. We were strapped to the “railway tracks” of life, destined to be destroyed by the train of sin until He came–not just to rescue us, but to take our place! We deserve the penalty for sin, but–
“God demonstrates His love for us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8
He conquered death and hell–and His death and resurrection completes God’s plan for redeeming a lost world. God turned a horrific event into the Good News: Jesus saves!
“If you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” Romans 10:9
LIke a mother hen, I wish I could gather all my chicks into one place and share this good news with them. That’s what the church is all about. We gather to share, to grow, to worship.
I’m also realistic, and I know that there are many that I care about that will never enter the doors of a church. Some “attend” without ever really meeting God. My prayer this Easter season is that you would clearly see the true meaning of Easter and that you would allow the message to penetrate your heart as you ponder just what Jesus did. What God did, by sending His Son. How can you say no?