This is Easter week, a time for celebrating the glory of God and the fulfillment of His plan for salvation. The ultimate sacrifice of His Son to pay the penalty for our sins.
I know my heart should soar as I contemplate the death of Christ and His resurrection. But sometimes I feel strangely apathetic.
I find myself at a curious stage in life. I’ve walked with Christ for many years, and the sameness of weekly and yearly routines can lead to a creeping indifference. Sometimes every sermon, every prayer, every song seems like a rehash of what I’ve heard before. Been there, done that.
Last week I was in the midst of one of these moods when an odd thought came to me:
Where would you be today if Christ had not come into your life?
And immediately I knew the answer.
I would be lost.
For the first time in many years, I opened up the journal I kept in college. I started it during my freshman year to practice writing and to record my thoughts about my experiences as a student at the University of Missouri. Reading the journal today is like going back in time; I see a portrait of young man who enjoyed his college years yet also struggled with choices and relationships and setbacks.
In the spring of my freshman year I wrote:
The last few days I’ve been coming to some realizations about myself, especially about myself and religion.… I’ve gained a basic belief in God, but it doesn’t mean that much to me. And I want it to. It seems like I’ve been getting farther and farther away from God.
I had grown up going to church, but little had sunk in. I didn’t doubt the existence of God, but I had no idea of how to relate to Him. To me, the Bible was merely a collection of interesting stories, and I had no idea whether Jesus really was the Son of God.
The young man I see in these journal entries had no real beliefs or convictions, no anchor, no direction or sense of purpose. A year later I went through a brief time of depression, and my only remedy was to increase my training for an intramural half-mile race. In the middle of that period, however, I heard a speaker named Josh McDowell present a message on campus about evidence for the truth of the Scriptures. That sparked some reading of my own, and I acknowledged that the Bible was not only a trustworthy historical document but also the revealed Word of God.
Then the scales fell from my eyes, and I understood the gospel for the first time. I recognized my sin and rebellion against God, and I realized why Christ died for those sins. In my journal I wrote:
I finally asked Jesus Christ to enter into my heart and guide my life, and I thanked Him for forgiving my sins. There was no bright light flashing, no loud voice proclaiming that I was saved, or anything like that. No great changes have been made in the last two days. But changes will be made…
It is probably the most important decision I will ever make.
At the time I thought I had found God. The truth is He found me. I suppose that’s why my favorite line in the hymn “Amazing Grace” is, “I once was lost, but now I’m found.”
So where would I be without Christ in my life? I’d be on a different road. My heart tells me that, no matter what happened in my professional life, I would have grown into a very unhappy man, drifting with the currents of our culture with no anchor for my soul.
I can’t imagine how I would have maintained a solid marriage. I’m not saying it would have been impossible; I just know my heart, and I know I would have made some destructive choices.
For me, the cure for the sickness of Easter Apathy is remembering what He has done in my life. God knew I was lost and unable to find Him by my own effort, and He took the initiative to send His Son to pay the penalty for my sin. He made me a new creature, and gave me a new life. Everything I enjoy today — my ministry, my marriage, my children — is a gift from Him.That’s the miracle of Easter.