April 16, 2014
Years ago when our son, Dave, Jr., was about 7 or 8 years old, he awoke early one Easter morning before anyone but I was awake, and he immediately began singing the chorus of the Don Francisco song, “He’s Alive.” “He’s alive yes He’s alive/Yes He’s alive and I’m forgiven,” Dave sang as he hopped out of bed.
At first, before I could understand what he was singing, I thought something was wrong with him: Maybe he was having a bad dream or was sick and crying for help. But no, nothing was wrong; in fact, everything was right, for the little guy was excited that Easter had arrived: He was ready to celebrate, exulting in the fact that Jesus is alive and because of that, our sins are forgiven. Sometime later that day, as I was at church, I thought how sad it is that so often as we grow older, we think we have outgrown the excitement Easter should bring. It’s an old story, after all. We’ve heard it over and over; we know what happens. And yet, as we contemplate the living Christ, the One who is alive from the dead, as we try to unpack the implications of that, our hearts will hopefully come alive with the God who is always the Lord of the eternal Now, and well as the everlasting Tomorrow.
As Bible scholar, N.T. Wright said, “Easter was when Hope in person surprised the whole world by coming forward from the future into the present.” The depth of that truth is certainly something worth shouting about, if not vocally, at least in your heart. I’m reminded of a story I read years ago in Leadership Journal by Vernon Grounds. It was a vignette from the life of the British preacher, W.E. Sangster. Sangster was known for his effectiveness in the pulpit. In the mid-1950s, while lecturing in Texas, Sangster noticed that he had difficulty swallowing and walking. He was subsequently diagnosed with a type of progressive muscular atrophy. Gradually, the physicians told him, his muscles would waste away, and he would no longer be able to swallow.
Sangster threw himself into his work. He wrote; he spoke; he did all he could to proclaim the Good News of the gospel. When people pitied him, he would say, “I’m only in the kindergarten of suffering.”
Finally, he was completely immobilized and could barely speak. Shakily holding a pen in his hand he wrote a letter on Easter Sunday to his daughter, Margaret Phippin. In that letter, Sangster said, “It is terrible to wake up on Easter morning and have no voice with which to shout, ‘He is risen!’—-but it would be still more terrible to have a voice and not want to shout.”
Sangster would live only a few more weeks. But in reality, he had become truly alive.
Whether you shout, “He’s alive,” or “He is risen,” I hope you at least have it in your heart to shout. And even if no one hears the cry of your heart as you praise the Lord, God will. And he will be rejoicing with you.
Contact David B.Whitlock, at firstname.lastname@example.org