I Believe

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Easter. Jesus has risen. We’ve heard that over and over again. We’ve read the scriptures. We’ve attended the sunrise services. But there is more. 

I am re-posting this for those who may need to read it again, and for those who might not have seen it. It bears repeating, time and again. 

The Resurrection is real. Jesus is real. He is not the figment of anyone’s imagination. I know. I’ve seen him. 

It happened on Palm Sunday. It was one of those lazy mornings.  I sat at the kitchen table enjoying my coffee, and a rare moment of quiet. Everyone else was asleep, even the dog and our three cats. Peace. 

Rather than disrupt it, I decided not to rouse everyone for church. Instead, I would read the scripture of the Passion and meditate.

This time, the often-read words took on a personal meaning. God didn’t die for faceless mankind. He died for me. For my sins. In my place. Willingly. I laid my head on the table and wept. 

Church! I had to get to church even if I had to crawl all the way on my hands and knees.
I rushed into the bedroom and started to dress. I had twenty minutes before the last service began, no time to wake the family or wait for them.

My husband roused. “What are you doing?”

“Going to church.”

“Now?”

“Yes.”

“I’ll go with you.”

“No. You’ll take too long. Stay here with the kids.”

When I came out of the bedroom, my family waited in the living room, dressed and ready. That was miracle number one. 

As we raced across town, I realized we would not arrive at church on time. The service would start before we could get in the door. I hated being late. 

However, the parking lot was almost empty. Had we missed the entire service? 

Miracle number two: a sign at the door announced a change in time for the Palm Sunday service only. We were twenty minutes early. 

Miracle number three happened during the sermon. One moment I sat next to my family, the next I stood in a white void, but not alone. Jesus stood a short distance from me. He opened his arms and beckoned me. Without a whisper of hesitation, I ran to him. He wrapped his arms around me in a tight embrace. 

I felt flesh and bone. I could feel the weave of his white garment pressing into the flesh of my cheek. Rather than being smooth linen, it was coarse, like burlap. 

Pushing that thought away, I basked in an ecstasy of peace, acceptance, love. The world and all of its 
sorrows didn’t exist. Only him. 

Unbidden, images of my past indiscretions paraded behind my close eyelids. What was I doing? I didn’t deserve to be in his presence, let alone touching him.I drew back, my head hung in shame. 

“Marie.”

I looked up. His eyes held no accusation, only love, unconditional and total. 

“I love you for who you are, at this moment. I love your flaws, your imperfections. It doesn’t matter how many times you have fallen, or failed. It is how hard you try, that matters.”

I reached for him, only to stop. His eyes reflected a heart-wrenching sorrow, and he gestured toward my left. A huge pit of fire belched black, roiling smoke and intense heat. 

“You must walk through the flames.”

“I can’t.”

“It is not because of your sins, but a natural part of your life. You will endure great pain.”

“I can’t! The pain will be too great.” 

But I had no choice. 

I stepped down into the inferno and braced for a horrific blast of heat. There was none. Instead, his hand reached through the fire and grasped mine. 

“If you hold onto me, your faith, the flames will never burn you. And, I will be waiting on the other side.”

The next moment, I was back in church. 

I touched my cheek. I could still feel the impression of his garment. I could still feel the peace, the joy, the ecstasy. I closed my eyes, not ready to let the world back in. 

I did not speak of my experience for at least six months. How could I put it into words? They are inadequate, ineffectual. 

My life changed that day. God walks closely with me. I often see him. In hallways. In church. In dreams. In premonitions. In other visions. 

He was right about the pain. He was also right about not being burned, as long as I clung to him, my faith. 

He is waiting on the other side for all of us. Be joyful! Rejoice! He is risen! He is with us, always.

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