What’s your favorite holiday? My favorite is Christmas. I love the month-long celebration, the eggnog, the decorations, the peace, and most of all the Reason. But if I had to choose one single day that’s my favorite, I would choose Resurrection Sunday. It’s the single sweetest day of the year for me. The day the Reason for the Christmas season rose from the grave, defeated death, and secured my life with Him forever. But I didn’t always feel this way.
Sisters, may I be raw honest with you? I’d like to tell you my story…
I grew up a preacher’s kid in a legalistic church, but was raised in a way that truly fostered a real relationship with God that was far deeper than just outward show. I was taught to read the Bible for myself at a very young age and how to rightly interpret it. From childhood I’ve known the scriptures – and loved them. I was blessed in that way. Many of my friends who were brought up in that denomination weren’t taught to study the Word for themselves or given freedom to fall in love with Jesus.
I loved the Lord, and it was my joy to serve Him. But no matter how much I loved and wanted to follow Him, I could never shake an uneasy feeling; a feeling that said, “What’s the whole point of it all? Why is sin so bad that we deserve hell? What have I done that would necessitate the burial of a beaten, bruised, and bloodied Savior?”
Oh, sure, as a child I was a bit of a liar, and as a teen I did my share of, how shall we say, experiencing? But overall I was a good kid from a good family with good morals. Many times throughout my youth I questioned God: “What’s so amazing about grace?”
Then I learned something. When you question God’s greatness, God’s grace, and God’s Gift, He will answer you. Whether through great pain, great sin, or both, you will gain a clear understanding of your overwhelming need for forgiveness and grace.
My journey began with great sin: A deep and destructive secret no one else knew – a secret I couldn’t run from, couldn’t change, and couldn’t control. Overwhelmed with grief and guilt, instead of running straight into the arms of forgiveness and grace, I ran away from the cleansing Christ offered. After a time, I would seek His face and receive forgiveness, only to naively and predictably fall back into the enemy’s trap – day after day, year after agonizing year.
Then came the great pain: My father took his own life and shattered mine into a million pieces. But through the pain, the Light of the World began to glimmer off the shards of my broken heart, and I slowly started to see the answers to all I had sought to know. Great sin can only be cured with great grace. Great grace can’t be given without great cost. And all sin is great, because all sin requires great grace.
As I looked deeper into my heart, the Spirit lifted the veil from my eyes, and for the first time, I saw myself as the thief on the cross, the pharisee in the temple, the woman caught in adultery.
Not because of the particular sin that entrapped me, but because sin itself is contempt toward a holy and glorious God who designed us for His pleasure and to bear His image. Because sin itself destroys dreams, harms health, and crushes creation. Because sin itself breaks hearts, causes catastrophe, and brings death. Because sin itself demolishes the abundant life Christ came to give us.
But this knowledge alone could not win my freedom. The enemy’s stronghold wound tight, and his accusing voice screamed that my destiny was the same as my father’s: To drive away everyone I held dear, and to die alone at my own hand. I didn’t want to believe him, but I couldn’t break the chains of death, so I began to build the links myself, until one day, seven long years after my father’s death.
It was a brilliantly colorful September day. Gentle breezes blew through my kitchen windows, but more than just autumn’s fragrance was in the air. The stench of sin filled my home. I stood in my kitchen and wept, then fell to the floor, pounding clenched fists into the white linoleum speckled with grease spots and dirty footprints. I was at a crossroad.
“I don’t want to die, but I’m not enough, and I can’t do this anymore!” I screamed at God, “You know the future. Will I die and face eternal torment? Tell me now, because I am done with confusion! If I’m to self-destruct, I’ll take that. Just leave me alone, then! But if you can save me, I will choose you. If you can deliver me, I will choose deliverance. Is there eternal life? Are you able to save to the uttermost??”
The answer came quickly, but calmly and quietly: “I AM. And I AM enough. Though a righteous man falls seven times, he rises again. If you will cry out to me instead of hiding your face in shame, I will bathe and cleanse you and uphold you with my righteous right hand. I want you. I love you. Come to me, and I will give you rest. If you turn from me, you will die; if you seek me, no one can take eternal life from you.”
I remained on the floor for a long time, weeping, worshiping, repenting, reveling. For the first time in over a decade, I felt light. I was set FREE. I was whole and clean. Finally, I stood up, and rose to new life in Christ. From that moment on, my chains fell as I learned to trust the blood that can break every stronghold.
Yes, when you question His greatness, grace, and Gift, He will answer and give you opportunity to understand your need for forgiveness. But He doesn’t stop there! He also gives you the only thing that will ever suffice for that need: The blood-grace of a risen Savior.
I became a new creation that day, and realized I didn’t have to choose sin. Yet if I stumbled, I chose repentance and grace, and found a net of mercy and love. When I was dead in my sins, my Lord made me alive together with Him, forgave all my transgressions, canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against me, and nailed it to the cross (Col. 2:14). Now the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in me and gives me life (Romans 8:11).
Resurrection Sunday is the sweetest day of the year for me, because “oh, the bliss of this glorious thought! My sin, not in part but the whole, is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more. Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, oh my soul!”*
Happy Resurrection Sunday, Sisters. May the sacrifice and forgiveness of Christ overwhelm our souls and cause us to live in the freedom of obedience. May the power of the blood and resurrection of Jesus prove real and sufficient for every sin and every need. And may the day we celebrate our risen Savior be the sweetest day of your year.
In His name and for His glory, Jodi Greene
*It Is Well With My Soul, Horatio Spafford, 1873