Some time ago, at the very beginning of the baseball season, a professional athlete was arrested for shoplifting (he later pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of unauthorized use of property). This young baseball star was caught trying to filch six t-shirts from a major department store.
Now why would he do something like that? Did he not have any t-shirts to wear for the next week? This fellow plays for his team for a salary of over $400,000 a year. To be frank, I do not know his reasons for attempting to steal those shirts. But I know one thing: Easter has the answer!
Easter has the answer for whatever issues you and I may face, even if it is something as simple as a case of shoplifting. But you say, “Wait just a second here! I have never tried to shoplift anything!”
Maybe not, but you have been caught … sinning! You have found yourself lying, cheating, stealing, and cutting every corner possible to make it in economically challenging times. You have discovered that you just do not have the answers to the problems of life. But that is the problem.
Ultimately, your thinking is just like that young athlete’s thinking. You believe that whatever happens in your life is up to you, that the answers to the problems of life are in your hands, and in your hands alone.
You may think, as he probably did, that the thrill of the adventure is worth the risk, but at the end of the day you are looking to yourself for the answer to all of life’s troubles.
There is one major reason why that is the case. It is an excuse that all of us have used throughout the years of our lives, and it is one that simply will not hold water.
The major explanation why we have to look to ourselves for the answers to life’s situations is that we do not believe anyone else can handle the difficulties – not our mates, not our business partners, not our co-workers, not our parents, not our siblings, and no, not even our God.
I wish I could claim it is original, but John Ortberg makes a very wise statement about this whole situation. He says, “…the way we live is a consequence of the size of our God. The problem many of us have is that our God is too small. We are not convinced that we are absolutely safe in the hands of a fully competent, all-knowing, ever-present God” (If You Want to Walk On Water, You’ve Got to Get Out of the Boat, p. 192).
In other words, when we pillow our heads every night, we worry and cannot sleep. Why? Because we seriously believe that everything depends upon us. We get out of bed in the morning and struggle throughout the day, because our circumstances seem beyond our control.
Everything we go through seems forced and insincere, because we do not believe that we have a God who is big enough to take care of us, even in our time of greatest need.
People everywhere are feeling anxious. They have pressures they did not have before. They regret decisions they’ve made over this last year. They wonder what next year will bring.
Nobody ever wants to go through hard times, but when those days arrive, they have a way of making you ask, What am I really counting on? Am I building my life on a foundation that’s solid enough that circumstances beyond my control cannot take it away?
My friends, that is why we celebrate Easter. It is a time when we gather to remember the only hope capable of sustaining a human life through everything.
Ravi Zacharias, a modern Christian philosopher, tells story after story of how he has seen many whose lives have been transformed by the message of Christ.
For now, just two will suffice:
1) In the middle of the 20th century, after destroying all of the Christian seminary libraries in the country, Chairman Mao declared that … Christianity had been permanently removed from China, never to make a return. On Easter Sunday in 2009, [however] the leading English language newspaper in Hong Kong published a picture of Tiananmen Square on page 1, with Jesus replacing Chairman Mao’s picture on the gigantic banner, and the words “Christ is Risen” below it.
2) Matthew Parris, a British atheist who after visiting Malawi in 2008 wrote an article titled “As an atheist, I truly believe Africa needs God”, wrote, “I’ve become convinced of the enormous contribution that Christian evangelism makes in Africa …. I used to avoid this truth … but Christians black and white, working in Africa, do heal the sick, do teach people to read and write; and only the severest kind of secularist could see a mission hospital or school and say the world would be better without it.”
So the question is: how big is your God? Is He big enough to take care of you when the chips are down, when the times are rough and the checks are few? God is here for you to trust Him, to count on Him, and to believe Him, even in the darkest of times, to lighten your way and your load. As that young star athlete, you may think about taking matters into your own hands, but that is not God’s way.
People have not gathered on Easter Sunday for the past 2,000 years to say, “The stock market has risen. It has risen indeed.” They have not gathered to say, “The dollar has risen. It has risen indeed.” Or, “the employment rate has risen.” Or, “the gross domestic product has risen.” Or, “General Motors has risen.” Or, “The value of your 401(k) has risen.”
Here’s the one hope that has held up human beings across every continent and culture for two millennia of difficult times of poverty, disease, pain, hardship, [and] death itself: “Christ is risen. He is risen indeed.”
Happy Easter, and…
God bless …
Chuck Tabor is a regular columnist for the Times-Gazette and the News Journal. He is also the former Pastor of Port William UMC.