Saturday, April 07, 2007

Paid In Full

We’re having friends over for Easter dinner tomorrow so I was at Wal-Mart earlier today picking up a few last minute items. I can honestly say this is the first time it’s snowed as I shopped for Easter things. My car thermometer read 21 as I drove home.

Rebecca has a cute skirt and short-sleeve top to wear to church tomorrow. She is going to freeze. Of course, I hear the temps in Atlanta are chilly, too, so I bet there will be a lot of little girls wearing heavy coats over their new Easter dresses. (Amy’s wearing pants. I give up. She did, though, ask for new shoes, and they are actually pretty. We have NOT told her that, however.)

Holy Week is always a difficult time for me. I know the focus is on Sunday but sometimes I can’t get past Friday. Last night’s Good Friday service lacked severely in the preaching department, but as I looked at the crosses I could not stop the tears. Who the heck dies to save people He knows will never care? It boggles this little mind.

We have a tradition of giving the kids Easter baskets, but we’ve never told them the gifts are from the Easter Bunny. I’ve always had a difficult time pairing a big ‘ol bouncy bunny with Jesus on the cross. So we’ve told the kids that Easter People, people who love them and Jesus, bring them gifts. Michael and Amy never bought it. They indulge us and go along now, but Rebecca’s always been amazed by the Easter People. Until today. She walked right up to me today and said, “Hey, you are the Easter People, aren’t you?” I was waiting for the Santa Claus shoe to drop, but it didn’t.

My Mom always had cool Easter gifts waiting on the kitchen table for us on Easter morning. Candy and gum were staples, and she usually put another gift in there, too, like a cassette tape or a record. (Yep, vinyl. I am old.) The low point was the Easter with underwear in the baskets (although I’d welcome that today). But the best Easter was 1987. I’d gone on my first mission trip the summer before and had racked up quite the long-distance phone bill calling all the friends from my team. My bill included calls to Anchorage, Chicago, Duluth, Minnesota, Los Angeles and Ontario. And my bill was well over $150 dollars. I had no job and lawn-mowing season was still a few weeks away. Proverbs 22:7 came to life for me: “… the borrower is slave to the lender.”

So that Easter I came downstairs, ready to get a sugar buzz before church, only to find an envelope in my basket. “Lame Easter,” I though. But when I opened the envelope I found my phone bill with the words “Paid In Full” written on it in big, black letters, with this explanation:

This bill is paid in full so you will always remember what Easter is all about. Jesus died and rose again to pay the bill for your sins. He loves you, and so do we.

Mom and Dad

That is the only Easter gift I remember. Man, my Mom was pretty smart.

Our kids are getting candy tomorrow, but there's no Easter gift I could give them that could ever match the one my Mom gave me 20 years ago. And there's no gift any of us can give that will match God's gift to us.