Here we are. The day before Easter Sunday.
When I began this initative on February 10th I had few preconceived designs of how this would play out. All I knew was that my heart was full of wonder and gratitude and I didn’t want the opportunity to express it pass by any longer. Many people, many moments have been gifts that have molded and impacted me.
The appropriate response to a gift is a word of thanks. It seemed fitting that I seize the forty days leading to Easter to actively express my gratitude for the people whom God has used in my life to inspire, guide, and humble me.
It has been a rigorous forty days. The busyness of daily life tends to squeeze out time for important matters. It’s easy for urgent things to take precedence and one must be on guard to protect the time needed to nurture the valuable things in life. I have so much to learn about this discipline. Just ask Steve. There have been many late nights and many cups of coffee. It’s been a juggling act.
In addition to this challenge, I have also been juggling a new job, something that fell into my lap on Ash Wednesday of all days. The job is an incredible answer to prayer and I am so grateful. Managing it all with integrity has not been a cake walk though. The exercise of this forty days has highlighted the importance of using my time wisely. Thankfully, this season in St Andrews has allowed me the luxury of more time than usual. Time in itself is a gift and I know it won’t always be this way. That is why I decided to run with #40shoutouts40days this Easter.
This may or may not come as a surprise but Easter is in fact not about chocolate and bunnies. Sorry guys. Easter Sunday is the appointed day in the Christian calendar that celebrates God’s ultimate gift to humanity, Jesus’ resurrection, the fulfillment of a promise made long ago, a moment that forever changed the course of history. There is so much I could say here. Even as someone who has been a Christian for years, I am still humbly discovering the ramifications of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Tim Keller sums it up nicely. “The gospel says you are more sinful and flawed than you ever dared believe, but more accepted and loved than you ever dared hope.”
On the morning of February 11th, the second day of Lent, as I was working in our kitchen and tending to the kids I let my mind wander into the depths of my memory. I asked God to show me the people with whom He had used to enrich my life, form my heart, and shape my understanding of the world and of his love for humanity as demonstrated in Jesus. And then the unexpected happened. Just kidding. What happened next was as natural as rain. I began to weep.
I wept because the magnitude of His goodness floored me. Every time a person leapt to mind I traced the events of history leading to each particular moment of influence and without fail, at the end of each path, I found God. I simply do not deserve the gifts I have been given.
I did nothing to deserve being born into a family that sought to humbly and imperfectly model Jesus’ love for me, that strived to honour God in word and deed and raise me accordingly.
I did not earn the right to live in a land where persecution is not rampant, where I am not living in fear and where the culture has allowed me privileges others do not have access to.
I am not owed ears that hear, eyes that behold, and tastebuds that relish the beauty and goodness this world has to offer.
The health I enjoy. The company I keep. The husband I hold dear. The children who run circles around me. These are all good and perfect gifts from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. (James 1:17) It is entirely humbling, something I desire for each and every person that walks this earth.
Today is the final day I am formally cataloging these gifts and I have no idea what to write about because it is impossible to choose. So instead of electing one final person, I will instead simply leave you with the words of a familiar hymn that is often sung around this time of year.
When I Survey The Wondrous Cross was first published in 1707 by a man named Isaac Watts. Does that ring any bells? We did not set out to name our firstborn after this influential person – that is another story worth sharing – but I believe our son’s serendipitous name was not an accident and we look forward to seeing how our Isaac engages with the world around him. This is true for Lucy too. I digress. Here are the words that express my heart.
When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss,
And pour contempt on all my pride.
Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,
Save in the death of Christ my God!
All the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them to His blood.
See from His head, His hands, His feet,
Sorrow and love flow mingled down!
Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,
Or thorns compose so rich a crown?
Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were an offering far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.
Amen. Thanks for reading.