“Earth’s saddest day and gladdest day were just three days apart!” -Susan Coolidge
“He is Risen!”
Just hearing those three words brings out a beautifully unstoppable response in me. I cannot hear that greeting without meeting it and agreeing with it by exclaiming: “He is Risen indeed!”
“He is Risen!”
“He is Risen indeed!”
That almost instantaneous response is as deep as an echo in a canyon, as obvious as the pairing of “please” and “thank you” and as automatic as saying, “God bless you,” when somebody sneezes.
The phrase, “He is Risen!” closely followed by “He is Risen indeed!” is like the expected sequence of pressing down, followed by the release of fragrant perfume.
When I say those words, I proclaim that God fulfills His promises, that He brings freedom from bondage, that He offers new life, fresh starts, second chances, forgiveness, hope, and love.
Repeating that phrase highlights God’s faithfulness. Only God can reweave past pains and mistakes into tapestries of beauty. Only a resurrected God can resurrect our lives and offer true joy in the present, and His fullness in the future.
I grew up repeating the same Easter proclamation as my parents and their parents before them. I smile as I hear the generations behind me doing the same.
When I say either portion of that greeting, I join a strong, long line through the ages of those who joyfully proclaim Jesus’ triumph over the grave.
By echoing those words, I agree with the unknown author who said: “Jesus took my place on the cross to give me a place in heaven.” A short summary of this profound truth is, “His pain for our gain.”
I thought about this truth in a new way recently when I joined our daughter Kelly and her children for a fun adventure at the San Diego Botanical Garden. For several hours we were surprised and delighted as we explored portions of the beautiful 37 acres. The children ran ahead only to quickly return and breathlessly recount their findings.
“Come look at the waterfall I found!” exclaimed 7-year-old Mary.
“I see a stream over there,” 5-year old Aubrey said before scampering up some rocks.
James, not quite 4, but clearly secure in his role as our gentleman escort, said proudly, “Mommy, Cici, come see what I discovered.”
Even 1-year-old Declan smiled and pointed happily at everything he saw.
It took foresight for the Larabees, the original owners of the property, to leave their estate to the San Diego County. The county managed what was then called “Quail Botanical Gardens” until the economic challenges of the early 1990s. At that time, dedicated citizens privatized the Garden as an independent, nonprofit foundation.
Countless donors gave countless dollars over many years to create and maintain the stunning grounds, not only for their own enjoyment, but also for future generations. The gardens would not have been an option for us to enjoy if people hadn’t sacrificed in some way years ago. They gave up something in their present for the benefit of the future. Like the title of the heart-warming movie, they chose to “pay it forward.”
Our favorite was the interactive children’s garden. The children loved climbing the rope ladder up to the multi-level treehouse and then running over to a little stream. Located around the children’s garden were sitting walls built with commemorative tiles with donor’s names or messages etched on them. Most began with the words: “In loving memory of…”or “Given in love by…” One tile in particular caught my eye. It began with the words: “Graciously donated lovingly by…”
I sat on a wall for a while watching my grandchildren enjoy the different experiences and exhibits. I thanked God for the beauty of creation around us and I thanked Him for the many people who made our joy possible that day. I also thought of how God is the ultimate example of graciously donating lovingly to future generations by His ultimate sacrifice so long ago on the Cross. His Resurrection three days later made possible our joy today, and our future with Him. He truly paid it forward, for all eternity.
Analogies only work to a point, but it shows the idea of sacrificing for the good of the future. Jesus had His eyes on the future, our future, when He gave it all, when He paid it all by going to the Cross for us. He kept His promise. He rose from the dead so that we can choose life with Him. We can live Easter newness every single day.
Happy Easter. He is Risen! He is Risen Indeed!
Cindy can be reached at [email protected].