The Least of These

Photo courtesy of Carlitta Cole-Kelly

 

 

 

Sunlight streamed through my bedroom window and poked me in the eye one early Sunday morning in April, 1948. I was ten years old. “June, June,” I called to my seven-year-old sister in the bed across from mine. “Wake up. It’s Easter.”

She popped up and smiled as she rubbed the sleep from her eyes. Together we bounded down the stairs to the kitchen, hand-in-hand, and opened the refrigerator. Sure enough. True to his custom, Dad had placed three beautiful carnation corsages on the top shelf next to the bottle of milk––one for Mom, one for June, and one for me. As usual, he’d snuck them into the house the night before after we were fast asleep.

We took the flowers out of their delicate boxes, eager to pin them to the front of our Easter coats. But first we’d step into our new spring dresses, lacy socks, and patent leather slippers before donning our new straw hats and gloves. If only there were an Easter parade. I wanted to show off our new duds! I’d have to settle for the folks at church noticing us as we walked down the center aisle to our seats.

At that time of my life Easter was all about clothes, candy, Easter eggs and the beautiful baskets Mom filled with goodies and gifts for each one of us. Of course there was a bountiful dinner and a mouth-watering dessert to enjoy that afternoon, as well.

 

THE BIBLE TOLD ME SO

I had learned that Jesus died on the cross, was buried, and rose from the dead on Easter morn. It was part of our family’s belief system. It was in the creed we recited out loud each week at church. But the real-life event had happened so long ago, I didn’t see any connection to my life nearly two thousand years later.

In the decades that followed, I repeated the Easter customs I had grown to love. There were always new clothes and lovely corsages, colorful jellybeans and Easter eggs, ham dinners and chocolate bunnies, perfunctory prayers, and of course, church on Easter Sunday. I continued the tradition as an adult when I had daughters and a son of my own. Until one year when we stopped going to church. The services seemed long and dry and my mind wandered to the things I’d rather be doing—like playing tennis or going for a bike ride around the lake.

Then suddenly without warning, in my late thirties, my life turned upside down like an umbrella in a rainstorm. And no amount of effort on my part could turn it right side up again. My husband left our family—just like that. I was a woman alone, divorced, then separated from my children for a time, without contact with my parents, and scared out of my mind at what lay ahead.

I needed a Savior!

And into my life came Jesus Christ––the one I had read about, sang about, learned about—but never really knew until He came alive through the pages of Scripture and the shared experiences of caring people in a bible study I attended as a guest of a new friend.

 

THE ONLY WAY

One day as I cried out to God in pain, the verse from John 14:6 that I had read in class marched across the hallway of my mind.

“I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

These words of Christ lanced my heart and out poured all the grief, anger, disappointment, pain and pretense of a lifetime spent trying to look good and be good on my own power.

Suddenly I knew that my life never was and never would be only about me. It was a gift from God through Jesus Christ. He alone could turn my heart from one of stone to one of flesh. He alone could provide what I needed and desperately wanted—to be loved and forgiven and rescued. I confessed my sins and received Him as my Lord and Savior.

Easter that year—over thirty years after the Easter morn I remembered from 1948—was the first time I walked in the only new garments that matter. I was clothed in righteousness, released from sin, restored in spirit, and recognized as a friend of God. All this and more because of what Christ did on Calvary and on that magnificent Easter morning when He rose in glory to secure for all eternity my life in Him and the lives of all who bow before Him, confess their sins, and call Him Lord.

“I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies, and whoever lives and believes in me will never die (John 11:25-26).

 

 

AND THE WINNERS ARE . . .

Thank you to all who participated in my book give-away for When God Answers Your Prayers: Inspiring Stories of How God Comes Through in the Nick of Time. I appreciated each comment.  The following people will receive a complimentary book (my husband drew the names). Mary B., Grace D., Michele H., Janet C., Ann S., and Marie P.

 

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Easter Surprise! — 10 Comments

  1. Oh! Karen. What a beautiful testimony of who you are and what you went through to get here!!
    I too remember the new Easter outfit complete with hat that I was so happy to wear as I sang in the Church choir and taught Sunday School. So long ago and now the children are so different, aren’t they? Glad we have these beautiful memories to recall and to remind us of how fortunate we were to have religion and practices so intense in our upbringing. We are indeed so very blessed to have an every moment consciousness of our relationship with The Divine.
    I love you my friend and fellow lover of GOD and all His beautiful creation.

    • Thank you, Kathleen. I am grateful for your faithful reading and commenting. I hope you had a joy-filled Easter weekend.

  2. Beautiful story Karen. Well put. You ought to write for a living. (LOL.) Both my parents are with Jesus right now and I remember so many tales about our times together as a familyand how traditions carry on. I guess traditions are a way of hanging on to them and the past. I prefer to call denial, “tradition.” God bless Karen. God is always there for us huh!?

    • Thank you, Jim. Yes, God is always there for us. I’m happy to know you too have fond memories of your parents.

  3. I, too, remember the Easter bonnet and new dress and shoes.
    It is wonderful when Jesus becomes more than that and we know Him as our Savior.
    Thanks for another inspiring story.

    • Thanks, Ann. Yes, it takes awhile to discover that Easter is more than pretty shoes and an Easter bonnet. I’m so grateful I know that now.

  4. We were on the same page with our Easter posts, Karen. I love how you expressed the main point: “new garments that matter.” Yes, these garments never wear out, never go out of style, and always fit perfectly! Thank God for the parents we had who took us to church and built the foundations of a faith that would serve us and nurture us for a lifetime!

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