Saturday, April 15, 2017

New Again

For some people the New Year is the "fresh start." A new set of numbers. The months start over. Goal setting and big life plans come to mind. For a farmer the New Year is just kind of the middle of winter. It doesn't signify much other than a new tax season. Our "new year" starts when things start greening up. The time comes to see if the fall planting survived what winter threw at it.

We planted triticale for this year so we are chopping silage a little bit earlier than normal. It came quickly and took our equipment by surprise. But we managed to get everything ready and harvest a really good crop for our first chopping adventure of 2017. #silage17 is ongoing and exhausting. 

I love when stuff gets green and blooms. My allergies protest somewhat, but a little Zyrtec and Benadryl with a dash of Sudafed keep me functional. My other favorite part of spring is Easter. This holiday has the power to stir great emotions. It isn't about the bunny or the eggs. In short, it's the pinnacle of our Christian faith. 

Our God sent His son, whom he loves greatly, to live as a man without sin. Jesus poured out love and compassion. He taught the masses. He gave, He blessed, He shared, and He gave living water to anyone willing to drink. He washed the feet of His best friends. He was a servant. Our God sent His son to live and to die. Jesus was the sacrifice that paid for my eternity. In His death, He wrote a blank check that paid the price of every single human willing to believe in Him. 

It is important that anyone with faith to know the Easter story. Our God died a miserable, painful, humiliating death. He felt every stab, and every tear as He died. It was not a symbol. It was a sacrifice. You will find the story of His life, His death, and His resurrection in every church this weekend. Easter is about how Jesus not only died, but rose again. He promised to return for His people. And our eternal salvation is dependent on a belief in that. 

Now that I paraphrased that story as much as my wordiness will allow me to, I want to speak on another part of the Easter story that we don't focus on so much. Mary, Jesus' mom. This lady carried a baby that she didn't create or even ask for. She just told God that she'd do whatever He needed her to do. She had to tell her soon to be husband that she was carrying a baby that they didn't make together, but that He was going to be their King. She carried this baby boy and gave birth in a manger. April the giraffe had better accommodations, y'all. Wise men came and brought gifts. Mary once left Jesus in a town accidentally. I'm sure she had a slight panic attack when she realized it. It took 3 days for her to get back to Him. When she got back to Jerusalem, there He sat in the temple, teaching the teachers. He was 12, y'all. 

If I had to guess, even though Mary knew Jesus was to be our King as well as a sacrifice, she had to take some deep breaths to not beat that boy sometimes. Mary raised Jesus. And then one day 30 or so years into this deal, she had to watch her son, God's son, our Savior, be mocked, beaten, and hanged on a cross. Her sinless baby boy had to fulfill his duty. He gave His life in exchange for a sinner like me. 

I'm not sure if you've ever really studied it, but hanging on a cross is not a quick or painless death. I read an article once that told about the actual, physical, and emotional things that take place. It made me sick. It brings to light a whole new meaning to Jesus "hanging on the cross." If you feel nothing as a Christian when you think of what Easter signifies, you need to look it up and realize what Jesus endured for you. 

Back to Mary. I am a mom. And when I try to put myself in Mary's sandals, I imagine so much anger at God. So many times in life we don't understand why terrible things happen. We don't know what good can come of it. But Mary, she knew what the end result would be. She knew what good would come. She knew it had to be done, but the anger and the emotion still had to be strong. Y'all she knew that her baby would be sacrificed and she did all the things asked of her anyway. Jesus knew what becoming a man and a sacrifice would cost Him, and He did it anyway. God knew what He would have to watch His son endure, and He allowed it anyway. 

My God, my Savior died for me. He did not ask me to die for Him. Not once.

Jesus did what He did for you. God loved the world (the whole world, not just His people) so much that He made a sacrifice beyond comprehension. (John 3:16) Even knowing that Jesus would rise again doesn't soften the fact that God would watch Jesus suffer unimaginable pain. So much pain that Jesus thought His father, God, had forsaken Him. I truly believe that God never left Jesus. It was Jesus' last part of being man and the pain was beyond comprehension. I don't believe God watched it stone faced, either. Maybe he even closed his eyes and a tear fell.

There is a song that I have loved for many years now. It is the basis of my thoughts of Mary. It is on an album of songs inspired by the movie, "The Passion of the Christ." (Confession: I haven't watched it, but I think I will tonight.) It is called New Again by Brad Paisley and Sara Evans. This song makes my heart feel so many emotions. And it is beautiful. Please listen to it and feel what the words intend.

Jesus did all that He did to make everything new again. He was a baby, a kid, a teenager, and a young adult. He lived what we live. He had parents. He had friends, best friends. He taught and he loved. He performed miracles. The waves and the wind know His name and they roar and cease at his voice. The Creator of all things loves us enough to suffer great losses even though we are failures. And while I hate to be a failure, my joy comes from knowing these things. My hope is in The Lord and my faith is not in vain. 

Mary might be the strongest lady to ever breathe. I'm pretty awed by her faith and her commitment. Mary served her God well. And she was rewarded when she knew her boy had risen again and His purpose fulfilled. I don't envy her, but I'll bet she was proud.

I can't imagine farming without any faith. I'm sure people do it. But I know that every spring, God willing, our crops will sprout up out of the ground. Our momma cows will start having babies and we will witness the miracle of birth. Our kids will grow another year older, and so will our tractors. Every spring we watch new life and Easter reminds us that God makes all things new again. 

This year my heart is full and my joy overflows. Even though we are exhausted of the late nights, early mornings, and the allergies, we will celebrate our Risen Savior this weekend. The Easter Bunny will make his appearance and the eggs will be hidden, but I won't let that get in the way of sharing the real Easter story. I will think of Mary and how, as a mom, she must have ached. I won't forget to be thankful for the crops and new life. I won't hesitate to tell my kids, and everyone else, that Jesus is the reason for everything we have and that through Him, I have eternal life and so can you. 

Happy Easter, y'all! 

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