Resurrection.  Restoration.  Relationship.

My husband, son and I spent my first Easter as a “born again” Christian visiting my mother, who lived 200 miles from us.  Mom and I attended Easter mass at her Catholic church.  I remember the solemnity of that first Easter service after reuniting with my God – staring up at the larger than life-sized crucifix at the front of the church.  Pangs of guilt still pulled at me back then when I thought of the price Jesus paid to restore me to right standing with God.  But, more than guilt, I felt a profound sense of gratitude for the love that endured such a horrible death for me.  As I sat while the parishioners filed up for Communion and returned to their seats, I looked up at Jesus and mouthed, “thank you.”  Silent tears ran down my face.  Mom reached for my hand and gently squeezed.

But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.  Isaiah 53:5

In 2014 we did not travel to visit my mother, as we most often did on holidays.  I wanted to attend Easter, Resurrection Sunday, service at my home church that year.  A cross stands at the front of our church, too, but it is an empty cross – signifying not only Jesus’ death, but also His resurrection.  I remember worship before service that Resurrection Sunday.  I stood at the area in front of the worship platform and praised my God.  I joined with the worship team as they played and sang SWEETLY BROKEN.  I sank to my knees, closed my eyes and sang my heart to God.

As I sang, I found myself kneeling in the dirt on Calvary under gray storm clouds.  Dust swirled in the wind that blew across the hilltop.  I stared up at Jesus where His battered body hung on the cross.  Trails of dried blood stained His head and face from the crown of thorns they had forced on His head.

His life; my sin.

Deep sorrow filled my heart; tears trickled down my face.

“Jesus!  What have you done?  What have you done?” My voice was a choked whisper.

Jesus opened His eyes: narrow slits in a face swollen and disfigured by the beating I knew He had taken.  He looked down on me.  “I did it for you, Love,” He said.  Then His eyes closed, and He was gone.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish, but have eternal life.  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.  John 3:16-17

I was undone by the immensity of His love – His personal and intimate love.  It was the only way.  Sobs wracked my body: pain and sorrow for what He endured and sacrificed; and gratitude, joy and love because He did it for me.

A hand gently cupped my chin and raised it.  I opened my eyes and looked up into the beautiful face of my living Lord.  He stepped back and extended His hand.  I placed my hand in His and rose to my feet.  Indeed, Jesus is alive!

Suddenly, I was singing my heart out in worship in church, again, as tears rolled down my face.