Recently I was laying across the kids’ trampoline in our back yard, pondering what we did with the minions this year for Easter. Our youngest two are teenagers, so gone are the days of hiding Easter eggs around our house & yard so that the kids could search for them like treasure. They are older now, more mature. Not willing to let go of memory-making moments that hold meaning to us as followers of Jesus, or lose the opportunity to invest in my kids’ relationship with God, I decided to try something new. This year the kids hunted Easter-themed geocaches Simon & I hid around the city of Dallas instead of the traditional candy-filled eggs. Each was located at a spot with life-sized art that holds religious significance to us as believers and (I hoped!) would add to their understanding of Jesus’ love and sacrifice for them.
On Maundy Thursday we visited the first geocache, which depicted Jesus as the “Divine Servant.” Once the kids located the bronze statue (pictured), we shared with them that Maundy Thursday is the remembrance of the last meal that Jesus shared with His disciples – the Last Supper. As we examined the details of the “Divine Servant,” I opened my Bible app and began reading John 13. It is hard to explain the emotion I experienced as I read the text with this life-sized representation of the very words in front of my eyes. It was powerful. I felt like I was witnessing Jesus’ servant’s heart, live. His humility, in person. His love, in action. And it made me think…
You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. -Galatians 5:13
What does my freedom look like to those with whom I share life? Is a servant’s heart displayed in my actions? Does my life more often display His humility or the indulgence of my own flesh (my own desires)? Are my actions spurred by a love that extends beyond myself? In short, does my life add to others’ understanding of Jesus’ love and sacrifice for them?
Excitement fills every part of his little 5 year old body as he races around looking for Easter eggs, his 3 year old sister hurrying to keep up with him, and 7 year old brother trying to lose both of them! But as he spies the next egg he forgets everything except the treasure that lies inside…
Sweet memories…I wish I could go back. Why? The treasure! To teach them about the true treasure! You see, it’s not really about what’s inside the egg. It’s about WHY we celebrate…
Easter is the most important holiday for Christians. It is what separates Christianity from other religions. Easter is the celebration of our risen savior! He is ALIVE! He is RISEN! This celebration is the promise and hope of our faith. It’s not colorful, dyed Easter eggs we hunt or the treasures inside. No, the treasure is Christ Himself and the Word of God which gives us His story.
“I rejoice at your word as one who finds great treasure.” Psalm 119:162
That’s what I would do over again. I would spend more time telling my kids the story of Jesus and what He did for us, dying to forgive us for our sins. Coloring eggs and hiding them full of worldly treasures is fun, but worldly treasures pass away too quickly. As a parent, my goal for my children is like Paul’s goal for the Colossians, “My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” Colossians 2:2-3.
I have this incredibly meaningful picture of my first three kids on display in my house. It is a pre-digitalized, unadulterated photograph taken during the olden days of film photography. I love the composition. The natural lighting is beautiful. The subject matter is – wait for it – picture perfect.
Instead of bringing me joy, however, it brings a healthy dose of sobriety to my view of self. When I look into the smiling faces of my children captured in that photo, I’m taken back to the day I took it. It was Easter. My kids were dressed to impress. We had just celebrated the most important event of our faith. What started as a quick and easy photo op morphed into a l o n g and oppressive ordeal that left my tenderhearted young kids in tears. With each blinked eye, each scratched nose, each look in the wrong direction, my inner ogre inched closer to the surface until she exploded in rage. I’m not exaggerating when I confess that I was scary. It is one of my lowest moments as a parent and it is thankfully seared into my memory. I cannot look at that photo without tears and the justified feelings of tremendous remorse, shame, and sorrow.
Sorrow is better than laughter, because sober reflection is good for the heart. Ecclesiastes 7:3
That photo is a sober reflection of who I am at my core, of my own undeniable state of sinfulness. It reminds me that I fight a battle not only with the enemy of my soul, but with my own sin-stained flesh, as well.
I display it, not for the warm fuzzies it generates, but as a solemn reminder of my inner ogre. It reminds me of who I could (too easily) be without the transforming power of Jesus Christ at work, forever renewing and always refining my heart and mind (Romans 12:1-2).
Spend some time today in sober reflection. Ask God to bring to mind the things He wishes you to ponder.