I was fortunate to have grown up in church my entire life and to have had a pretty good understanding of who God is from the moment my brain could start to wrap itself around this idea that someone loved me so much that they thought I was worth dying for.
I memorized John 3:16 by the age of 4 and at the age of 5 I had to recite the entire chapter of Psalm 139 in front on my first grade class. Terrifying, right? But what’s sad is that even with this strong foundation of biblical truth and a personal relationship with God from childhood up until now, I’m starting to realize I never fully grasped the magnitude of His love for me until last year.
On September 11th of last year, my husband passed away. I held his hand as he slipped from this side of eternity to the next and I saw life leave his body as his soul transitioned to heaven. It’s an image that will forever be ingrained in my head even on the days that I wish I could forget it most. Walking through that season of sickness with J and being by his side in his last moments forced me to open my eyes and get a clearer understanding of just how amazing it is that the veil was torn on this Good Friday thousands of years ago.
I’m not a naive Christian who wonders why bad things happen to good people. I understand that the storms will still roll in, and I’ve walked through many of them wondering when the rain would stop in multiple points in my life.
At the age of 20 I was diagnosed with a bone marrow disease.
At 21 I went through a bone marrow transplant.
At 22 I caught my husband’s tears after an ACL tear in his final football season at Purdue.
At 24 my husband was diagnosed with a rare form of spinal cancer that eventually spread to his brain.
And at 25, I had to learn to live life without him.
I can say, without a doubt, that even throughout all of this God was good and gracious and present. But even still, I had this idea in my head that if I didn’t get it all just right then something else would go terribly wrong.
I’ll never forget my 18th my birthday. I got a speeding ticket, crashed my car, and broke my laptop all in the same weekend. Some might say that’s just a series of bad luck, but I had a friend explain to me that “God was trying to tell me something.”
It was such a simple and seemingly harmless conversation, but this idea that all of these “bad” things were happening to me because God was trying to get my attention or steer me back on the straight and narrow started to reinforce my limited perspective on Him. I wouldn’t quite say that I questioned His goodness. I know that He is loving and kind and compassionate. That’s evident as we celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus this weekend. But I will say that I was more consumed with the legalities of my faith than with the love of my Father.
Today, as we mourn the death of our Savior and prepare our hearts to celebrate His resurrection, I think it’s worth taking a moment or two to reflect on who God is in your life and how the death and resurrection of Christ was intended to liberate us from an earthly and legalistic mindset and view of who He is in our lives.
Up until last year and seeing death that close, I realized I’ve never truly understood how temporary and fleeting this life is and how consumed I’ve been with trying to do everything just right so that I can live a blessed life. I am starting to see that this is such a legalistic and backwards way to live.
God is good all of the time. In my brokenness. In my sin. In the moments that I would rather listen to trap music instead of read my bible. He’s not lurking in the shadows waiting for me to mess up so that He can strike me down with lightning. No! He’s holding my hand. He’s patient with me when I mess up. He understands that it is physically not possible for me to read my bible (and actually retain anything) first thing in the morning. He loves that my most intimate moments with Him happen to be in my car and not in a church.
He loves me just as I am and that was proven true not only on Calvary, but also in the way that He reveals his love to me.
I pray you always see how loved you are, but today especially.