Easter Sunday’s coming up this weekend. For some it’s “Bah, humbug.” How could such a thing be? Rising from the dead. Jesus might have been something special in His day, but that’s long gone.
I met a man from Alaska in recent travels who fought in Vietnam. Thought he was going to come home and go back to being a California “beach boy.” It didn’t work out that way. He said he and a lot of other Vietnam vets ended up in Alaska, hiding out. He’s lived remotely ever since.
He asked me if I’d had a good life, which I answered in the affirmative. When I asked him the same, he said he thought a good life was in the mind — the attitude you take toward things. I could tell he’s been striving for that elevated attitude a long time.
I wondered if he had a faith. “Oh yes,” he replied. “A very deep faith, although I don’t hold to any creed or doctrine.” When I followed with, “Have you ever considered Jesus?” he said, “I’m not even going to go there with you.”
“Okay,” I responded, “but I need you to know the reason I’ve had a good life is because of Jesus.”
We shot the breeze a little more about Alaska. He drove a classic ’66 white-and-aqua Ford pickup with a 55-gallon barrel of gasoline in the bed — for those extreme Alcan Highway miles. Handed my husband and me a couple of Stewart’s sodas before we drove off.
A memorable encounter, but in its way a wistful one. I didn’t get the feeling this man had found the good life his mind sought. Although I would’ve loved to stay and hear his stories.
The problem with the mind is it’s often full of traps and dead ends — or like that child’s toy I saw recently with a battery-powered faux hamster that runs round and round inside a ball. As intricate as the mind is, it doesn’t hold the answers to life — and life beyond life. If it did, we’d be a utopian people.
Jesus’ story as told in the Bible is one of God entering — in the flesh — His own creation to redeem what humankind has made a mess of. His clear intent is to bring not just a new mindset, but a new heart. To offer —as only an infinite God can — eternal life to all who receive His gift.
Can God sacrifice Himself for a creation He loves? Can He rise again in a display of power to show He means what He says? Can it be true that “… no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love Him?” That Someone far above humanity’s “elevated thinking” is fulfilling His plan?
We can “go there” or “not go there.” I believe the resurrection of Jesus to be real. Not long gone, but very present. As close as the beat of my heart.