I love a good story. I mean, we all do, right? Stories entertain us. They ignite our imagination or pull at our heart strings. They encourage us or motivate us. They teach us lessons or bring the past to life. We all love a good tale as old as time. The excitement of that ‘once upon a time’ and the contentment of ‘happily ever after’.
A good story is what we all need now. It’s what we’re all longing for. An escape from the reality of this pandemic. A way to shelter ourselves from the death and fear surrounding us. A story to put our mind and heart at ease and remind us that things will be ok again.
As a kid in church I loved when my Sunday School teacher would use the felt board to tell Bible stories. I secretly always wanted to own one so I could tell the stories myself. Those visuals helped to bring those stories to life and live inside our minds.
But also as a child in church there was another medium used to tell stories: songs. We all remember Father Abraham and Deep and Wide. Classics in Sunday Schools across the country. But for me, there was one song as a kid that I’ve always loved. I can’t sing it for you as you read this but I’m sure you’re familiar with it too and your brain will instantly jump right back into this song and you might even bust out loud singing. It goes like this:
“I heard an old, old story, how a Savior came from glory
how He gave His life on Calvary to save a wretch like me
I heard about His groaning, of His precious blood’s atoning
then I repented of my sins and won the victory
Oh victory in Jesus, my Savior forever
He sought me and bought me with His redeeming blood
He loved me ‘ere I knew Him and all my love is due Him
He plunged me to victory beneath the cleansing flood.”
What a story! So powerful, so encouraging, so timely. And that’s another thing about a successful story — timing.
We tell stories to help in situations. A story isn’t only as good as its content or subject matter but as when the story is told and how it will change the person or group who hears the story.
And that’s what makes this all so significant. In the darkest time of this pandemic comes Easter. The most powerful, life-altering, history changing, good vs evil story known to humankind. Easter! In our most challenging days arrives the most encouraging story.
It’s got darkness and despair. A world falling apart and desperate for help. It’s got loneliness and heartache. Bad decisions and bad motives. It’s got fear and death. And it’s got an ending to end all stories.
This timing didn’t surprise God. It’s a message for us. It’s a reminder that He is still here even when we feel so isolated and scared. It’s His story of hope. It’s His story of victory. It’s His story of love. And it’s His story of our ‘happily ever after’.
It’s easy to be overwhelmed with the news and images we see and hear constantly. It’s easy to be unnerved by closed businesses and empty parks. It’s understandable to feel alone. Imagine the disciples and family watching as Jesus was paraded down the road broken, humiliated, carrying His cross. Imagine as they watched Him hang on that cross desperate for air. Imagine as they watched Him breathe His last breath. Imagine the fear they felt as the stone was rolled in front of that tomb.
I imagine that you, like the rest of us, are experiencing the same types of feelings now.
In fact this morning was especially hard on me. There’s only so much of the darkness and evil in the world that I can take before the feeling of hopelessness takes over. But in that minute when my desperate heart cried out to God to intervene He put a song on my lips. “I heard an old, old story…”
Victory in Jesus! If that isn’t the ‘happily ever after’ the world needs now then I don’t know what else to say. In the darkest point in our lives, is a holiday celebrating the most powerful and victorious story ever told!
God knows our fear and our pain — He’s gone through it. God knows our loneliness — He’s been there. God knows our heartache as loved ones die — He’s experienced it. And God knows the hope of victory — because He’s already won it.
Sure, this Easter is gonna be strange and different for us but in no way is COVID-19 changing the message of hope. In no way is the virus rewriting the ending of the story. In no way does the fallen world win.
There’s victory in Jesus! And now more than ever the world needs to hear this story…now. This is the story of life. The story of victory. The story of HOPE.
May you and your family have a safe and HAPPY EASTER!