Easter – Joy upon Joy

Easter Stories and More marks the eighteenth anthology in which my work has been published. It’s always such a joy to be part of a group effort, especially when you respect the work of the other authors in the collection. It’s always such an honour to be counted with them in a collection that you know will inspire and strengthen faith.

This one is especially dear to my heart because Easter is dear to my heart. What could be more exhilarating than celebrating the triumph of good over evil, the restoration of mankind to its God and, on a more personal level, the joy of resting in the assurance of one’s own salvation?

I thoroughly enjoyed writing the two monologues written in first person: The End of a Pilgrimage, which was written for Inscribe’s blog and Torn, written in response to the call for submissions for this anthology. Putting yourself in the place of a Biblical character brings the story of the life of Christ into a sharp perspective and causes you to dig deeper into the scriptures to discover more of the truths lying buried there.

The poem I submitted to Easter Stories and More, Easter Walk, was inspired by a stone I picked up as I was walking one spring day a few years ago. The stone was scored with two dark lines – one vertical, one horizontal. I wondered what had made the marks and as I walked my thumb traced the lines, my mind pondering again the mystery of the death and resurrection of our Lord and all that it meant to me.

It left me with a renewed sense of peace and thankfulness for His sacrifice and for the sacrifice His father made, in sending His only son to rescue such a ‘motley crew’ of humanity. It also left me rejoicing that Easter is my victory too, because He included me in it, called me into His family and secured my life with His death.

I hope you too are able to rejoice in that victory.

“O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” (1 Corinthians 15:55, NASB).

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March 24 – Ruth L. Snyder https://ruthlsnyder.com/blog/

March 25 – Sally Meadows https://sallymeadows.com/blog

March 26 – Eunice Matchett https://albertastoryteller.com/

March 27 – Lynn Dove https://lynndove.com/

March 28 – Pat Gerbrandt https://patgwriter.wordpress.com/

March 29 – Denise Ford https://walkingwithdustyanddee.com/

March 30 – Marcia Laycock https://marcialeelaycock.com/thespur/

March 31 – Bob Jones revwords.com https://revwords.com/

April 1 – Valerie Ronald https://scriptordeus.wordpress.com

April 2 – Kimberley Payne https://www.kimberleypayne.com/blog/

April 3 – Marnie Pohlmann https://marniewriter.com/blog/

April 4 – Allison Lynn https://allisonlynn.blogspot.com

Lynn Simpson https://lynnjsimpson.com/ 

Love Transforms, Love Demands

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Do you remember your first love?

Picture a sixteen-year-old girl. She’s walking home from school, her shoulders hunched, her eyes on the ground. She’s wearing dark, somber clothing. Her hair often goes unwashed. She rarely makes eye contact with anyone and doesn’t smile much. She doesn’t have many friends.

Fast forward four years. That same girl is wearing a flowing floral dress. Her head is high and her eyes sparkle. Her hair flows out behind her, gleaming in the sun as she runs across her neighbour’s lawn. He hardly recognizes her. “You’re in love,” he says. She laughs and admits that it’s true. And it has made all the difference.

Love does that. It transforms us, it makes us believe that life is good and worth living. It makes us believe we are worthy of being loved. Yes, the discovery of love, especially God’s love, transforms us.

And the Demands of Love work to continue that transformation. Love is never easy. People tend to be complicated and their lives are often messy. Loving well inevitably leads to the need for sacrifice and a selflessness that most of us resist. But we are called to love unconditionally, as Christ loved us. We are called to give much, because much has been given to us. Luke chapter 7: 36 to 47 teaches us this truth. Jesus was invited to have dinner with a Pharisee. A woman who, the Bible tells us, had “lived a sinful life,” arrived with a jar of perfume, poured it on Jesus’ feet and washed them, wiping them with her hair.

When the Pharisee saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is—that she is a sinner.”

Then Jesus tells the Pharisee a story about two people who owed money to a moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he forgave the debts of both.

“Now which of them will love him more?” Jesus asked. Of course, the Pharisee said the one who had the bigger debt forgiven.

Then Jesus said to him, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little” (v. 43-47).

Have you been forgiven a little or a lot? I think we can all agree that it is the latter. Yes, we have been forgiven much, we have been given much, and we are expected to forgive, to love well, and give much in return.

Love transforms but love also demands.

 

Almost by Marcia Lee Laycock

“Tell me your story,” my friend said.

I smiled and warned her that we might be there for a while, but she said she wanted to hear all of it. And I was excited because I love telling it, not because it’s my story but because it is, from beginning to end, God’s story. It becomes obvious to those listening and even more, to myself, that God’s hand of protection has been over all of my life. There were so many times when I could have/should have had disastrous things happen; times when I almost died.

As my husband has said, “You walked into the fire and right out of it again with hardly a scratch!” Well, the smell of smoke often lingered, but he’s right. I can relate to Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego.

There was that day I should have drowned but was saved, that night I could have been raped and even murdered but was left alone, that time I ingested a poison but it left no effect, the times I trusted strangers who could have been demons but turned out to be angels. Over and over again God protected me.

Oh yes, I have had my share of tragedies and trials, but even in those circumstances, God was there. There was the moment when I heard those mind-numbing words, you have cancer, the days when the chemo treatments were almost too much and others when I almost could not make myself walk through the doors of the clinic where I would lay on a table and allow radiation to burn my body. There was that day I was almost overcome when I realized the child I carried would not be born alive and the day I got the phone call telling me my father had died. There were those years when the pain of the circumstances almost drove me to curse God.

In all of those times it was God’s presence, and above all His love, that kept me sane, kept me going, and kept me in the shelter of his wings. It was Jesus who kept me from going beyond ‘almost.’

I love that old song that says, “The Name of the Lord is a strong tower, the righteous run into it and they are safe.” The words are true. The name Jesus keeps us safe, even in the midst of the fire or in the midst of a raging storm – not always safe from pain, but safe from separation from Him. And that is the only agony we would not survive.

These words are also true: “But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed but not in despair, persecuted but not abandoned; struck down but not destroyed” (2Corinthians 4:7-9).

That is our testimony, our story as believers in Christ Jesus. When we have Him we will always have that word, almost.