Today, I find joy in my identity as a child of God, made complete in His death and resurrection. I am set free from my earthly burdens by His grace and love. This is a hard feeling to explain, but I feel like my heart is literally overflowing today…like it could just burst out of my chest. This has been a very different Easter Sunday, compared to all those of my past, but it might be the most significant so far. Here are the main points…
Intentional Community: For Easter lunch, I joined in a “family” meal with several other study abroad girls. We all helped prepare the food, then sat down together to break bread in community. It was a beautiful way to celebrate this day and its significance while away from our homes and families.
The Least of These: This afternoon, I went to the children’s hospital to visit Domantas again. I went yesterday, but was unable to get in, so I wasn’t sure that I would have success today. Thankfully, the door was unlocked. I made my way up to his room and was pleased to see he was awake when I got there, sitting in his crib making random sounds to himself. We enjoyed some time together playing, singing, smiling, and laughing. He seemed more energetic and was very vocal today…signs that, I hope, mean he is getting better. He does not actually speak real words yet, but he likes to “talk” to me with very serious and dramatic baby talk. The look on his face always conveys that he has some very important things to tell me. I was pleased to see today that he remembered some of the things I taught him on Friday, such as the rhythm of “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” and our little game with his rattles. It was such a blessing to me to be able to share some love with him on this Easter Sunday.
Purposeful Accidents: On my way to visit Dom this afternoon, I decided to take the bus instead of walking. My goal was to get there faster so I could spend more time with him before going to church. I knew that the #5 and #14 busses would take me in the right direction for the children’s hospital, but they were not going to come to my stop for over 25 minutes…which would not save me any time. The #9 bus was scheduled to come much sooner and, judging by the street names on it’s route, I thought it went into town. However, when I got on, I realized that I had misunderstood and it went toward town, but then turned to take the route over by the seaport – the opposite direction from the hospital. While I sat there, trying to figure out when I should get off so I could go where I need to go, an elderly women sitting across the aisle in the row behind me started talking to me. I didn’t realize at first that she was trying to get my attention, but when I heard “mergaitė” (young girl) for the second time, I knew she was talking to me. I turned around but couldn’t understand what she said. I sadly responded with, “Nesuprantu Lietuviškai. Aš kalbu angliškai...” She looked at me with understanding and kindness in her eyes, pointed at my wrist, gesturing that she wanted to see my bracelet. This is the MudLove bracelet that says “set free” on it. I lifted my hand so she could see, she read it, nodded and smiled as if she understood, and said a phrase that I did not know. I smiled in response but wished so much that I knew the right words to explain the meaning behind those two words. Given that she is of the older generation, I can say with near certainty that she probably only speaks Lithuanian and Russian, so I doubt she knew what “set free” meant. But, looking back on it, I wish I had thought fast enough to use an alternative form of communication. I could have drawn a cross on a piece of paper and written “Jesus Christ”, then a person with the word “aš” (me), and a heart to signify love. This wouldn’t have been perfect, but I think she would have understood what it meant. However, after thinking through all of this and being disappointed that I failed to communicate effectively with her when given the chance, I realized that maybe God had a different purpose for this interaction. I don’t think He had me get on the wrong bus and interact with this woman for no reason…God always has a reason. Not to mention that, in this culture, the fact that she approached me – a complete stranger – is unusual in itself. I wear this bracelet every day, but I think God used this woman to get my attention and remind me of the milestone that is today. He used this moment to bring back memories from last Easter and say to me, “My dear daughter…I AM faithful. You are mine and you are beautiful. You are free, and I am using you.” Some may say I am silly or I over-spiritualize things, but I believe there are angels among us. As I remember this woman and the kindness I saw in her eyes, I wonder if she was one of them.
This Easter, I know who I am, but more importantly, I know Whose I am. No, life is not perfect or easy. In fact, it is far from either of those things. In some ways, it feels like the more I pursue God, the more difficult like becomes. But, while there is a negative correlation between pursuit of God and ease of life, there is a positive correlation between pursuit of God and joy. Sometimes it makes me giggle when I think about how much joy I have when I see the beauty of my Lord all around me, even when life is less than kind. So, my prayer today is that, in some way, my testimony can encourage you. May you also find joy and hope on this Easter Sunday, as well as every day to come. Christ is alive and working!