The beauty of spring and the reprieve of fresh air I breathe in today are a deceptive, but unconvincing distraction from the darkness of this day, Good Friday.
I’m blessed that in this technical age my eyes fall on reminder after reminder in my newsfeeds of how sacred this day is – a day of quiet reflection in gratitude for Christ’s sacrifice for me, the beauty and darkness intermingling and filling my soul with praise and quieting my heart.
But there is more than this praise and quiet stirring in my soul today, and it is not unto joy.
I answer text messages from unaware friends, wishing a merry Easter, and my heart aches alone.
Nevertheless, I squeeze my eyes shut and force myself to focus on the quiet, sad beauty wrapped up in this one day.
And I am humbled and so grateful for the truth of the Cross. He willingly offered himself up – in my place – to be tormented, humiliated, torn, tortured, disgraced, abandoned, pierced….all so that He could rescue me from the same.
For the joy set before Him, He willingly endured the cross, despising the shame….
I was the joy, the very thing He fixed his eyes upon as He restrained His own God-strength and laid down His life.
But I must confess. Though my mind knows and meditates on these truths well, my heart is not always just here on this day.
Oh, how I want it to be.
But the shadows of Easters past brush by me, first so slightly that I don’t even notice, but then closer they come, and closer, until they stand fully eclipsing the joy and gratitude in my heart, sadness and grief threatening to completely overshadow the grace and beauty and freedom of the Cross.
Because Easter has not always been this to me.
And my heart bears the marks of carrying a load too heavy on this day as my mind jumbles and tries to distract and forget.
In my youngest years, the truth of the Cross and this day, and especially the truth of the resurrection were stolen from me before I ever had a chance to hear it.
And instead I witnessed with my innocent eyes the mockery of this day by those intent on stealing not only my innocence, but also my hope.
And it is the memory of the sheer evil of watching those filled with such hate for my Redeemer re-enact the hopeless torture of those who were innocent that dances in shadows over my soul every Easter, this their high holiday.
My body was traded, yes. But worse than that, my hope was stolen before it ever had a chance to bud.
And now my Easters are spent in search of that hope – the hope that lies only in the truth of the Cross and the power of the Resurrection.
And the intermingling of the truth I now see and the mockery I beheld then bring a confusing sadness my soul unwillingly submits to.
Because I know what it is myself to be tormented, humiliated, torn, tortured, disgraced, abandoned, pierced, but not unto redemption. Only unto despair.
And I know that there are many others who know this, even this very day.
And I see the well wishes, the merriment, the bright colored eggs, the candy, the beautiful Sunday best – all prepared for a celebration of the resurrection that holds the power to bring my past into perspective.
And it is this dichotomy – the beauty of hope, and the suffocating despair – all mingling together in my heart that still bears the marks – that shadows my Easter.
Because I know full well the darkness of this day, and I have not yet awakened fully to the glory and light and hope of Sunday.
And so it is my prayer this year that the glory of the resurrection will fully displace the shadows of Easters past, both for me and for my friends who know intimately that of which I speak.
Jesus, may we whisper your Name over the despair of this day, that we might shout your Name in victory over our hearts fully restored by the power of Your resurrection.
And may our hearts not forget those still bound to the merciless mockeries of your love as we celebrate our freedom.