It wasn’t what they expected. It was hard to ignore the disappointment in their eyes. One hundred and eight days since Christmas. Fifty-eight days since Valentine’s Day. And today’s celebration was a bit less than they’d anticipated.
Sure, the boys each had a little Easter basket. By the time I’d rubbed the sleepiness from my eyes, my youngest had eaten the ears off of his solid chocolate bunny. Clambering over me as I sat on the couch with a steaming cup of coffee, he whispered, “Did you hide the eggs?”
Yes, I did. Well, Hubby hid plastic eggs filled with quarters and candy around the front yard. As we have every other year, we sent the boys outside with their baskets to scramble around for their hidden treasures. The entire hunt took less than ten minutes.
“What else are we doing today?” Both boys looked at me, wondering what excitement came next.
“We work in the yard. We clean the house. We eat dinner.” I listed the activities of the rest of the day. The boys were obviously less than thrilled.
This year’s Easter is different. We won’t gather at my brother’s house for an all-cousin egg hunt or a family dinner. We will make a simple meal at home after working around the house. Instantly, Resurrection Sunday has become just another day for my little boys.
When Jesus was born, the world believed the king had come – the one who would save his people. Imagine the disappointment when he was crucified like a thief and mocked by many who had once rejoiced at His coming. The day his people had anticipated for not just days or weeks but centuries – the day he would be crowned “King of the Jews” – became a day of darkness and loss. The “Big Thing” they’d awaited was the biggest disappointment in the history of their people.
It feels as though we are living through one disappointment after another, doesn’ it? Every “big thing” we had on the calendar has become just another number on a list of unfulfilled dreams. Graduations ceremonies cancelled. Wedding celebrations minimized. Birthday parties tweaked to take place over video. Even our church services lose a bit of luster when we cannot connect in person.
As I threw candy wrappers in the trash this morning, I thought about my boys and all of these disappointments. Already, they are looking for the “next big thing.” This month, it will be a birthday celebration. Next month, the ability to run through the sprinkler without getting chilled.
What is it really, though, that keeps them asking “What’s next?” I am sure a part of them just wants a sugar rush from cake or candy. But deep down, there is an emptiness that is seeking a spark of joy – a glimmer of hope – that the world will turn right side up again. Each “big thing” reminds us that life and love and joy overcome death and sorrow and darkness. In the middle of the shelter-in-place, without an end date in sight, it almost seems like the “big thing” we are waiting for is constantly hovering just out of reach. But what if the end of stay-at-home orders isn’t the biggest thing our hearts and minds need?
The Israelites believed that Jesus came to earth to be an earthly king. What they believed to be the biggest satisfaction they would see this side of heaven was buried in a tomb…until He rose and became the King of all mankind. Do you realize that, when Jesus appeared to Mary Magdalene outside the tomb, she thought he was a gardener? (John 20:15) Mary, who spent countless hours with her beloved friend Jesus, did not see him for who he was. In her grief and sorrow, she missed the biggest thing in the history of the world! It wasn’t until Jesus called her by name that she recognized him.
As I settle in for a quiet afternoon with my family, I think about how often I probably miss my Lord calling my name. Before the school sites shut down and I began working from home, I was like my little boys as they counted the days until “the next big thing.” I waited for Spring Break – for birthdays – for reasons to celebrate joy. In reality, I experience big things every day. Because my Jesus did the biggest thing of all, I get to walk through life with Heaven waiting at the other end. I wake up each day to a loving family. I watch my boys learn and grow into Godly young men. I share hopes and dreams with my friends. I cuddle at night with a sweet husband who makes me laugh. All of the little things are now big things – not because of the pomp and circumstance, but because Jesus called my name when I was 21 years old. And he continues to whisper in my ear that, because I am wholly and dearly loved, I can face tomorrow – and the rest of this crazy time in history – with eternal hope.