I saw a bumper sticker recently that read, “If you really believe Jesus rose from the dead, inform your face.” Christians are the Resurrection people and joy should be the hallmark of our lives. If not, we may need to prayerfully evaluate our relationship with the Lord. I know I have had to do that from time to time.
There is no more joyous occasion for a Christian than Easter as we celebrate the resurrection of our Savior. Easter has always been a joyous time for my family. Our customary traditions included worship, followed by dinner with extended family, and yes, we also enjoyed the secular activity of Easter egg hunts for the small children.
When the kids were growing up, my late wife, known as Tootie to family and friends, made unique Easter baskets for each one of them. By that I mean she lined the inside and outside of the baskets with a decorative quilted cloth. They were gorgeous and each Easter we filled the baskets with their favorite treats and candies before hiding them throughout the house to be found Easter morning.
The Easter of 1988 found us enjoying the last spring of our time in Athens, Georgia. We would move to Conyers, Georgia the following August. It was also the Easter my wife surprised me with my own Easter basket. I will never forget when she brought it out and handed it to me with the biggest smile on her face. A quick perusal revealed that this basket had no candy, no chocolate. It looked empty except for a pile of what appeared to be confetti. Huh? Was this some kind of joke? No M&M’s? No Snickers? Where’s my Mounds bar?
A quizzical glance at my beloved saw an unspoken encouragement to look a little closer. A second and further examination of the tangled mass revealed a hundred strips of different colored paper…with handwriting on each of them.
Tootie had pulled the kids together earlier that week and had them write down “I love Dad because….” on each strip of paper. At that time, our five children ranged in age from 6 to 14. As I picked up each strip, I read aloud what had been written. Tears of joy and laughter soon followed. Talk about priceless.
A sample of the children’s comments went something like this: I love Dad because…
- You fix us pancakes on Sunday mornings.
- You let me keep my dog.
- You pray for us.
- You didn’t kill me in the 5th grade.
- You took me to Space Camp.
- You always help me with my school work.
- You love all of us an equal amount.
- You buy us pizza!
- You settle every fight between mom and me.
- You married mom.
- You love mommy.
- You are the nicest dad.
- And my personal favorite, no doubt written by my oldest son: You are going to buy me a car when I turn 16.
Wow. I was deeply touched by my wife’s creative effort to encourage me as the father of our children. But, there was more. I soon realized that Tootie had written some herself. It was such a beautiful and surprising way for her to affirm our love and marriage. A sample list of her comments included:
- You always surprise me.
- You remember our first date!
- You jump on me when I am making an ass of myself.
- You have taken dance lessons with me even though you hated it.
- You provide for us with such a loving heart.
- You hurt when I hurt.
- You enjoy my company.
Of course, there were a few more that are nobody’s business.
Memories like this are something to cherish forever. Easter will always be a day to celebrate the Resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, and a reminder of his unconditional love for all of us. But I think He too rejoices in marriages and families that honor Him and will understand when each Easter, first and foremost, I rejoice in a Risen Lord and cherish the memories of another Sunday morning, like the one in 1988, when my family found a creative way to communicate their love for me.
The Man whose joy is Jesus can never be sad.