It’s been a lifetime tradition for me to have a new dress each year for Easter; a tradition I always looked forward to and cherished. Every year, from my very first Easter on, my mother would make me a new dress. The excitement of choosing a pattern and fabric and the anticipation of donning my new dress on Easter morning was almost as much fun as Christmas. As I grew older and learned to sew for myself I carried on the tradition, although I may have missed a year or two.
Two years ago I decided to revive the tradition once again and make myself an Easter outfit. I deliberated over what pattern to make – I even blogged about it here, here, and here– and finally chose my pattern and fabric and started the project. As the weeks drew closer to Easter I worked to focus on the true purpose of the day and managed to maintain a worshipful attitude as I sewed my dress. I even decided if I didn’t have it finished one week before Easter I wouldn’t try to get it done in time- I didn’t want to spend all my time stressing over finishing a dress last minute and have it detract from the importance of the day. This would be a doubly special Easter since the church plant I was attending at the time was becoming officially chartered that Sunday.
But as the week before Easter approached, something happened. I got so close to finishing my dress and I so wanted to have it done for Easter! So I kept going on it, pushing everything else aside to stay up late the night before and finish it. And finish it I did. It was a beautiful dress, and I was proud of my accomplishment. I envisioned the reactions of those who would see me in it and the praise they would give me for my skills.
Easter Sunday arrived and I donned my new dress, hot off the sewing machine, almost as eager to debut my newest creation as a Paris fashion designer. I put my hair up in an elegant style and added my impractically high $5 heels to complete the look.
The service came and my wishes were fulfilled. People exclaimed over my dress and my talents as a seamstress. In the back of my mind I knew I should be worshiping, focusing on the great things God had done, both in bringing His Son back to life and in bringing this church to life, but I couldn’t shake the pride and pleasure I had in my accomplishments. I struggled for victory and failed.
The next day it all came rushing in, all that I had missed out on. My vanity and pride had robbed me of enjoying the celebration of my Savior’s resurrection, the very foundation of my faith and the source of all of my hope, as well as the celebration of my church’s chartering. I wept with bitter regret, knowing that day was forever lost to me; I would never be able to fully enjoy it.
As I cried, telling my mother of my sorrows and regret, she said something to me that I will never forget:
“God is pleased with you right where you are.”
Those words lit hope within me as I recognized the truth of them. Yes, yesterday in my pride I had trodden upon all that God had offered me; but today, as I cried tears of true repentance, He saw my heart broken over sin and was pleased with me. I still had a hard time forgiving myself for my failure, but I could not deny the words of Psalm 51 as I echoed the prayer King David wrote during a time of deep sorrow over sin in his own life:
“The sacrifice pleasing to God is a broken spirit.
God, You will not despise a broken and humbled heart.” Psalm 51:17
Idolatry has many more forms than statues of fat little men, and it is a real danger for every follower of Jesus. It is destructive and will rob you of your life if you allow it. But that’s where we find the beauty of the Cross and the reason for rejoicing in the resurrection: in the redemptive power of God to rescue us from our addiction to sin and redeem us for His glory and our freedom. He takes our selfish desires and disgusting pride and in loving gentleness convicts us of our sin and gives us His marvelous, glorious grace to walk in victory.
My desire this year is to celebrate Easter in style- not in a fancy new dress, but with my heart washed, clothed in the robe of righteousness bought for me by my Savior with His own blood, joining wholeheartedly in the celebration of the source of all my hope- the Resurrection.
Will you join me?
“Men of Israel, listen to these words: This Jesus the Nazarene was a man pointed out to you by God with miracles, wonders, and signs that God did among you through Him, just as you yourselves know. Though He was delivered up according to God’s determined plan and foreknowledge, you used lawless people to nail Him to a cross and kill Him. God raised Him up, ending the pains of death, because it was not possible for Him to be held by it.
For David says of Him:
I saw the Lord ever before me;
because He is at my right hand,
I will not be shaken.
Therefore my heart was glad,
and my tongue rejoiced.
Moreover, my flesh will rest in hope,
because You will not leave me in Hades
or allow Your Holy One to see decay.
You have revealed the paths of life to me;
You will fill me with gladness
in Your presence.” -Acts 2: 22-28
If you’d like, I would suggest reading 1 Corinthians 15 to get a grasp of just how important the Resurrection is for you and me and to prepare your heart for worshiping the Risen Savior on Easter Sunday!