This week is Holy Week, the week when all Christians regardless of denomination remember the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem, celebrating the Passover meal, Jesus’s arrest and trial, followed by His crucifixion, death, burial, and then resurrection on the third day.
Yet it has been really hard for me to write anything other than a book review of Sheila Walsh’s book It’s Okay Not to be Okay. I’ve been wracking my head on what to write. For the last few posts, I’ve been putting down on paper my thoughts about the book of Joshua – on leadership, on how God views leadership. However, I had to stop for a while.
Why did I have to stop? Because of my struggles with OCD. I’ve been struggling with a mild form of OCD; my form affects the super-spiritual, the super-moral where all my thoughts are stuck in an endless loop malevolent thoughts. However all I ever want to do is to worship God the right way, with my whole heart, soul, mind, and strength. It’s hard to be so vulnerable since once on the Internet, it’s hard to do a retraction. Some of my friends are much more open, sharing about their own disorders and suffering, but that’s not me.
At least, until now.
My thoughts turn back to the real meaning of Easter. More than the chocolate bunnies, the peeps (remember those super sweet ducks), and the Kinder Surprise chocolate eggs, or the endless sales and discounts. Although, chocolate is always nice.
Easter means forgiveness. I mean real forgiveness. Not the weak versions we humans peddle: “I’ll forgive him/her as long as they are sorry.” Or “Mercy only for those who deserve it.” By contrast, the first words out of Jesus’s mouth was: “Father, forgive them because they don’t know they are doing.”
Trained Roman soldiers carrying out an execution that they must have done several hundred times and not knowing what they do? Hard to believe. Rather, they were committing an act of evil so dark that they had no idea the full extent of their act.
And more importantly, Jesus forgave us unconditionally. He didn’t wait for us to ask for his forgiveness. He didn’t ask for us to promise that we would never sin again. He forgave everything we ever did and will ever do. He forgave us the big things and the little things. He forgave me the things I have said, the things I have done, and the things I have thought in secret that no one else knows.
I think about my self-centered pain and how hard it is to see others as more important than me and my agenda. Jesus did the opposite; Jesus never forced his rights, His agenda, but did His Father’s work – saving mankind.
Easter means true freedom from sin, guilt, shame. The 21st century world hates those words. Sin’s pleasurable and if it makes me happy, why stop? Guilt? Shame? Those are legacy words from a restrictive past. The things we used to feel shame about – society says we ought to flaunt them. Yet, we can never escape from sin, guilt, and shame. In the dark, quiet nights when we are all alone, these three monsters will emerge and haunt us. We fight them off by denying them or deadening ourselves with more vices like, alcohol, drugs, and sex.
Jesus broke the power of sin. His atonement means He took our place; he was declared guilty on behalf so we are declared innocent. He bore our shame by dying alone and outside the city so we could draw near to God. When Jesus died, the heavy veil in the Jewish temple that separated God and man was torn from top to bottom.
It took a me long time to get back to a place where I could think about the wonder of Easter. I had a struggle with Christmas 2018. What I learned from Sheila Walsh’s book, what I learned from my pastors and counselors who loved me and walk beside me during the last five months, is that I have to live life one moment at a time, one day at a time. Most importantly, God sees all my imperfections and still chooses to love me.
A lot of people don’t like the idea of God watching them. I know I didn’t for a long time. It’s like we’re waiting for God the Judge to finish tallying up all our shortcomings and then whacking us with a paddle. I’m starting to get used to the fact that He is watching over me, like a father who watches over their kids on the playground. God is not afraid to discipline his children, but he also challenges them to do better, and enjoy His creation.
Easter means regeneration. It’s hard for many to believe a man could come back from the dead. It’s easier to come up with all sorts of fanciful “explanations” and conspiracy theories that are even more far fetched than to believe God raised Jesus from the dead. It means that I am no longer bound by my sinful nature and that my body one day will also be regenerated. Better yet, I will be with Jesus one day. I know this, and i have to keep reminding myself of this truth.
Maybe this post is more for me than you because it is so easy to have a “seen it before, heard it before,” attitude that actually stifles true celebration. I hope you have a good Holy Week and remember Jesus loves you and died for you.