Easter Every Day
By Stacie Ruth Stoelting
With bouncing hair and dancing eyes, a three-year-old girl helped her mother clean the house. Her soft, round fists grasped the pretend vacuum as she scooted it across the carpet in the nearby hall. She brushed the polished, marble floor with her little broom. Easily, she earned the title, “Mommy’s Little Helper.” It could have been a TV commercial for a toy vacuum and broom set!
Then the little girl eyed a nearby plant. She decided to prove how strong she could be. Her short legs blurred with motion as she ran to the plant to pick it up.
“Wait! Don’t move the plant, honey." The mother bent down to pick up a dustpan. Now at eye level with her little cherub, she smiled.
Her mommy didn’t know how strong she was! She could lift that plant up! Wrapping her tiny hands around the big stem, she grabbed the plant and hoisted it high above her shoulders.
“No! Don’t do that!” Her stunned parent panicked as her little angel morphed into a rebel – a rebel with a cause!
The little girl’s mouth pursed. Her eyes squinted and darted to the plant in her hands. Something snapped: the toddler’s anger. She lifted it higher.
Then, with a climax of defiance, she dropped the plant on the floor. Dirt swept across the recently swept floor.
When the toddler realized what she had done, guilt set in. She dreaded punishment. Noticing the sadness in her mama’s eyes, she felt sorry (grief) for what she had done. Then, realizing that she could do nothing to change the situation on her own, she gulped.
Punishment ensued. But the mom’s overwhelming love won over: the mother and child reconciled.
We all make mistakes like the child. We all sin. (I cannot calculate how many mistakes I’ve made!)
Grab. Guilt. Grief. Gulp. Not only do these words describe the toddler’s story, but they also describe what we do when we sin: We often grab, feel guilt, grieve, and gulp when we make mistakes (sin) and face the consequences.
When we do something wrong, we “grab” for the opportunity or thing that offends God. Remember, as the honorable Dr. Zachary Tims has said, the devil has a counterfeit for every gift from God.
Sin always looks good. Sin never shows the complete picture. It attracts our eyes; it distracts our hearts. Appearances mask the future consequences.
Sin always possesses a hook and bait: it makes you want to grab the bait. But, without Christ, you never get off the hook! So when something seems especially alluring, distracting, and has odd timing, pray about it. Check God’s answer key: the Bible.
Guilt haunts our hearts whenever we reach the realization of one of these: We feel guilty because we face punishment (here or hereafter). Or we feel guilty because we hurt those whom we love.
If we decide not to do a mistake again, we grieve over time lost and the mistake’s effects on loved ones.
We swallow hard and wallow in our sorrow over past mistakes. Each mistake we make hurts God’s heart. That should make anyone gulp.
Here are four more “g” words to describe the answer to the other four. These words can replace grab, guilt, grief, and gulp: God’s grace is granted to us by the Gospel. That means that He is willing to forgive us if we give our hearts to Jesus. But in order to understand God’s grace, we need to get the full picture:
The toddler’s rebellion caused dirt to spread across a clean, white marble floor. Our mistakes smear dirt on our souls and offend God. Sins (mistakes) hurt God’s heart and offend His holiness. But who is God?
God is far stronger than any atomic force, infinitely more creative than our imaginations, and completely beyond the grasp of time! He knows everything about everyone everywhere! His capacities are measureless! Our holy God never makes mistakes. He never tires. He is never moody. Nothing compares to Him!
When we attempt to compare ourselves to God, it is like this: Pick up a dust particle off of a book and compare it to the measureless galaxies. (Some of us can find specks of dust easier than others! Hmmm…I think I might need to dust.)
David understood it. God inspired David to realize this: “O LORD, what is man that you care for him, the son of man that you think of him? Man is like a breath; his days are like a fleeting shadow” (Psalm 144:2-6, NIV). Think about God. Think about how much we have fallen short of Him. We’ve offended the God of the galaxies and we can’t do a thing about it on our own.
Yet God loves you. Yet God loves me! Wow! To be loved and to be forgiven by God truly is a miracle!
When Almighty God looks at someone who doesn’t believe in Him, He sees someone whom He loves with a passion. But He also sees a heart that is dirtier than an exploded sewage plant.
Permanent marker stains of sin streak the spirits of people who don’t believe in Jesus. Without Jesus, they can’t remove the dark ink of sin. It’s there, and it’s there to stay –unless Jesus cleans them.
When we totally believe Jesus, He washes our souls cleaner than anything on earth! (“…wash me, and I shall [in reality] be whiter than snow.”-Psalm 52:7, AMP) He washes away the dirt and erases our stains. When we measure the plummeting depth of our sins against God, we treasure the even deeper wells of His grace given to us because of Jesus!
Faith in Jesus is the only way for a holy God to forgive us. You receive God’s forgiveness when you receive Jesus. (If you haven’t accepted what Jesus did for you and believe Him completely, click here.) God said so: “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved" (Act 4:12, NIV). All we need to do is accept Him and what He did for us: Jesus stepped into our shoes and took the death penalty for our mistakes. (See John 3.)
If you still need the record of your mistakes to be erased for eternity, don’t hesitate. Receive God’s forgiveness today. It’s way too serious to postpone it. Here’s how to receive it: “That if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9, NIV).
Suddenly God’s forgiveness seems a lot more important. Suddenly, Easter seems a lot more important! When we receive Jesus, Easter happens in our hearts: Just as Jesus lived after death, He can live inside our hearts and make them clean.
Jesus gives forgiveness. God’s forgiveness sends goosebumps up and down our spirits. For once, we can authentically apply “awesome” to something! (Wow! I am in complete awe. When I think about God’s forgiveness of my sins, my eyes widen!!)
Easter expresses God’s limitless love and grace. Easter lasts forever: It’s permanent. (Remember: Once we’re forgiven, we’re forgiven forever!)
Do you remember the story at the beginning of this column? I was that little girl. Later, Jesus gave me a ticket to God’s forgiveness and I took it! God forgave me and transformed me from a little rebel into a relative: I’m God’s child now! Are you?
This year, think of Easter as a celebration of adoption into God’s family. Celebrate God’s forgiveness! Easter is forever!
Note from the Author:
Connected! isn’t a typical monthly column. Think of it as an e-mail. Feel free to reply. Reply to: firstname.lastname@example.org. After all, I want to be a friend and introduce you to my Best Friend, Jesus Christ. We’ll cover issues relevant to our generation. Most of all, we’ll connect with Christ. If you don’t know how to connect with Him yet, click here.
Stacie Ruth Stoelting and Bright Light Ministry share how to have victory over tragedies and trials. At 22, she already has experience: At 15, Stacie Ruth wrote Still Holding Hands: Bonus Tips for Caregivers & Tips for Helping Families Facing Alzheimer’s, depicting her grandparents’ romance, and victory over Alzheimer’s. Celebrities (i.e. Pat Robertson) endorsed it and/or Bright Light Ministry. At 20, she sang for President Bush. In dramatic programs for all ages, she speaks, acts, sings and entertainingly inspires. Now, she is writing books for teens (e.g. Catching Faith Stealers in the Act). Visit www.brightlightministry.com.
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