On Thursday evening, as I was walking to prayer gathering for my church, Harvest, I was stopped by two people directly in front of the UT tower; the area where graduates gather to take their sentimental senior pics on a stony ground canvas and where the luminescent orange light of victory shines brightest. One of the guys carried a camera while the other had, entangled in his hands, the handles of a black bag that rattled like a hefty maraca when he shook it. Both of them asked if I had time to answer a few questions and be recorded.
Now in that moment, I felt very hesitant. There was no hint over the topic the questions would be over, and I was wondering how long the conversation we would have would last. But since I still had a few minutes before prayer gathering (and also because I hate saying no to people), I said sure.
When I agreed, one of the guys raised his camera and aimed it at my face. As a few awkward moments passed, where I smiled for the camera thinking he was taking a picture of me, when he was actually just starting a recording, he asked me the question: “What does Easter mean to you?”
I was shocked by the question.
Shocked, not because it was cloudy, and static from the sky above tingled my hair, nor because the guy was an electricity-bender, and his questions contained packets of lightning that zapped out of his mouth and struck me in the face.
I was shocked because I was asked about my faith. I was given an opportunity to share what Easter meant to me. To share that it wasn’t just all about bunnies, Easter eggs with tasty sweets and miscellaneous toys, or an obligatory day to go to Sunday service at church. To share that it was something very precious to me.
But this shock quickly turned into fear. Not determination. I wasn’t able to feel what I wanted, or should’ve felt.
I wanted to feel the “Hosanna in the Highest” that was sung for Palm Sunday. A worship meant for Jesus arriving at Jerusalem on the week of the Passover. When palm leaves were waved in praise for Him. And a donkey carried the Messiah into the city right before the final presentation of himself to Israel.
I wanted to feel the solemness that came from Good Friday. To feel the pain that Jesus went and suffered for us: Violent whiplashes against his bare back. A crown of thorns weaved together and embedded into his head. A tiresome walk carrying a heavy cross-shaped wood on his, already, festering bleeding back for a mile. A piercing experience of being hammered down onto the cross, iron bars smashing through the bones of his hands and feet. An excruciating experience of lifting his entire body upwards on bone and iron supports, slowly suffocating over the ounce of air he breathed in. A public humiliation where insults and mockery of all kind were thrown at him while his life faded out.
I wanted to feel the salvation that came from this execution. Where the last breath he took become the first moment that humanity had a greater hope in living. Where the idea of the worst possible punishment a criminal could receive in the Roman era, placed upon an innocent man, became a revolutionary revival. Where an insane claim of the cross that once symbolized death, became new life.
I wanted to feel jubilation over the topic of Easter Sunday. Over the day that Jesus rose from the dead after He was crucified and appeared before his disciples to issue the Great Commission. Where he proclaimed that after we died to our old selves, under Christ, we received a new life of freedom. A proclamation that spoke about courage and boldness for those who had great faith in Jesus. A proclamation to share about a faith to “all nations”.
But I experienced hesitation, not boldness.
After the questions were asked, I was handed an easter egg from the black bag the non-recording guy clutched, and walked away to prayer gathering reflecting over the encounter. I wasn’t able to respond instantly with these feelings. I didn’t understand the meaning of Easter Sunday to me then. How Good Friday played into all of it. And most of all, I was worried that what I would say would be misrepresented. I feared that what I said would impact how others would view who God was, a thing I couldn’t control.
And you know what was ironic? I wasn’t talking to two random passerbys that I intentionally reached out in order to talk about faith. Nor were they homeless street youth or adults who had asked for money/food whilst on “The Drag” street right next to the university campus.
They were two casually dressed, middle-class men who were part of a Christian ministry that genuinely wanted to know my opinion about Easter Sunday and who Jesus Christ was to me.
If I, who claim to be a Christian, am timid when it comes to sharing my testimony with people of the same faith, how in the world am I able to share the story God wrote in my life to others?
Did I not believe that God saved me when I was a baby, when I had a hole in my heart (ASD), and I had to undergo surgery at almost one year of age? Did I not believe that Jesus was the one who spoke truth to me through middle/high school during my insecurities, where I struggled with my pursuits after countless things to appease classmates, teachers, and parents (and still continue to struggle)? Did I not believe that it was God who brought me through a tribulation this past summer, when I encountered a faith crisis from a church conference that brought me, weak-minded, to my knees sobbing in the secluded health room at the company I worked at because I didn’t know what was real or fake in my faith? Did I not believe that Jesus revived me during a personal retreat in Winter break, where I was able to rest from a mind-breaking semester of programming and absence of God, and I was able to reflect on His Word and remind myself again of His goodness that He provides, and is always there for me even when I cannot see Him?
As I write this all down, either sitting in the prayer gathering of my church, at a hackathon that I’m facilitating, or on the ground near my bed late at night, I realize that God has been working in my life continuously. These past three weeks, God has showed so many things to me through reflective prayer, singing praise, sorrowful confession, and joyous epiphanies. He has reminded me the first love I once had, that I am nothing without Him, and that I need Him in everything I do.
With Easter Sunday, I’m looking forward to be relive again the joy of Jesus’s resurrection. To be recommitted to the Great Commission. (Matthew 28:18–20). To continue to cry out with my soul to God who saved me. And to enjoy today, as I enjoy everyday, knowing that salvation was won and that sin and death no longer has a hold over me.