As far as the east is from the west,
so far has He removed our transgressions from us.
— Psalm 103:12
I know this may surprise some people, but to me, Easter is my favorite day of the year. Yes, Christmas is nice with all the magic of Christ’s birth, Christmas carols and cookies, the scent of pine and cinnamon, family and snow. But there is just something SO holy and SO special about Easter, you know? I guess because it helps me to remember all that Christ did for me—a sinner who never did and does not now—deserve either His grace or His shed Blood.
And yet I have both—a miracle that never fails to bring tears to my eyes. Why? Because I flat-out don’t deserve it. Yes, I’m a nice person who loves to encourage and love on people and seeks after God with all of my heart, but I am also flesh. And in my mind that flesh—be it impatience over someone driving too slow or butting heads with a restaurant owner (don’t ask!)—negates any goodness I may think I have. “
For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God,” Romans 3:23.
Yes, “fallen short” … and continue to do so every day of my life.
Which is EXACTLY why Easter is so important to me. To remember that despite a mountain of sins that seem to grow taller everyday, I am forgiven, washed clean by the Blood of Christ, prostrate and sobbing in the rain at the foot of the cross. No matter the wounds I inflicted on Christ’s broken body this very week alone, Easter looms—a beacon of hope that God loves me no matter what I do, say or am because the truth is I am His and with the mere utterance of my sorrow from a truly repentant heart, I am free. Free!! From myself and the guilt that constrains, free to be all He’s called me to be—a child of the King, cloaked in the holy warmth of God’s forgiveness, mercy and love. OH, what a joyous day!!
And so I remember. Remember not just what He did for me, but what He continues to do in the life of this staunch Christian who just can’t seem to get it right. I remember—with painful gratitude—that because He died, I live.
It’s what it’s all about for me at Easter. Remembering—really remembering—how He took me from the darkness into His glorious light. Remembering that without Him, I would be lost. But on Easter—oh, precious Easter—I am miraculously found!!!
One of my favorite spiritual scenes in all of my books depicts this miraculous essence of Easter, so I wanted to share the clip with you. It’s a scene from book 3 in The Daughters of Boston series, A Passion Denied. You see, in this book, the hero, John Brady, is a Billy Graham-type Christian on fire for God, to whom everyone goes for spiritual advice. Everybody thinks Brady has arrived at that Mother Teresa state where he lives and breathes for God alone and never fails.
We all fail. And that, my friends, is the beauty of Easter—every failure, every transgression—are all forgiven at the foot of the cross, where Jesus’ precious Blood has “removed” them “as far as the east is from the west.” This is a concept John Brady was familiar with and preached to everyone who came to him for advice. But ironically, it was this wonderful aspect of Easter—total redemption and forgiveness—that even John Brady failed to “remember.”
And so, may each and every one of us take the time to remember this Easter and be found anew, resting in the arms of a gracious Savior and a truly glorious God.
A Scene From A Passion Denied
The bathroom door creaked open, and their heads jerked up. They stared, still as stone as Brady walked into the kitchen, coffee cup limp in his hand. His hygiene was considerably improved, clean-shaven and hair slicked back, but his eyes were still red and glassy. Dead and lifeless, Collin thought, and his stomach twisted. He jumped to his feet. “I have eggs and toast in the oven. More coffee?”
“No,” Brady muttered and dropped into a chair. His eyes trained on the empty cup in his hand.
Collin ignored him and filled his cup before topping both his and Father Mac’s. He plunked a plate of eggs and toast onto the table, along with plates and utensils. “Eat,” he said.
Brady continued to stare, his bleary gaze lost in a sea of bitter coffee. “I’m not hungry.”
“Yeah, well you need a little something other than vodka to sustain that thick head of yours.”
That woke him up. His head shot up, and the red in his eyes singed like fire. “Go to the devil, Collin. As if I didn’t pull your head out of the latrine more times than I can count.”
Collin eased back into his chair, all humor depleted. “That’s right, John, you did. Which makes this all the more upsetting. What’s going on?”
Brady closed his eyes and ran a shaky hand over his face. “I can’t tell you.”
“Why? From the very beginning, you’ve known everything about me—my past, my present, what I think, what I feel. The best of friends, closer than brothers. Don’t you think I deserve the same?”
Brady lowered his head. “You do, but I can’t tell you.”
Collin’s jaw tightened. “Why?”
“Because I’m not ready.”
Collin slammed his fist on the table. “Not ready for what? To be a friend?”
Brady’s head lunged up, his eyes swimming with pain. “No, Collin, not ready to lose one.”
Collin blinked. He swallowed the emotion lumped in his throat and nodded. “If I leave, will you promise to talk to Father Mac?”
Brady nodded slowly, his eyes dull.
Collin stood. He glanced at Father Mac. “Can you try to get him to eat? I want him healthy at work tomorrow.” Collin gave Brady’s shoulder a quick squeeze. “I’m tired of carrying him.” He started for the door.
“I’ll have half of day’s work done before you even shadow the door.”
Collin turned, hand poised on the knob. His throat tightened. “I want you to know, John, whatever you did, no matter how bad you think it may be, I will stand by you. I’m proud to call you my friend, because I know who you are—a man of integrity, honor and passion for God. And nothing—nothing—you can say will ever change that for me. I love you like a brother, John, and always will. See you tomorrow.” The door clicked softly behind him.
Brady drew in a deep breath and avoided Matt’s gaze. Tears filled his eyes. “Like a brother,” he whispered. “That doesn’t sound so good right about now.”
Father Mac leveled beefy arms on the table and leaned in. His tone was quiet. “Worse than you thought?”
Brady’s laughter held no mirth. “Yeah. Not only was I a child drunk, but apparently I was depraved enough to sleep with my father’s wife.”
He heard Father Mac flinch, the faint intake of breath piercing Brady’s consciousness anew. He was an infidel. A lost soul. A man who committed incest and adultery to gratify his own flesh.
He staggered to his feet, suddenly craving the numbing effect of the bottles he’d stolen from Michael’s stash. “I’d rather you leave, Matt. I feel sick and need to lie down.”
A firm grip fisted his arm. “No, John, we need to deal with this now. Once and for all.”
Brady jerked away, his eyes itching with tension. “And how do you propose to do that, Matt? What exactly do you have? A potion or magic formula that will make it all go away?”
Father Mac stared. The brown of his eyes deepened with intensity in a face that radiated pure peace and calm. “No potion, John, and no formula. Just the saving blood of Jesus Christ.”
The impact of Matt’s words pierced his heart. He looked away. “Maybe that’s not enough this time.”
“It’s always enough, John.” Father Mac pulled out a chair. “Sit. Please?”
Brady hesitated, then did as he asked, slowly sinking into the chair. He leaned his elbows on the table and put his face in his hands. “How can God forgive something like this? Adultery, incest?”
Father Mac exhaled and sat down beside him. He placed a hand on his shoulder. “He does it all the time. I know a man who committed adultery and then murdered his lover’s husband, but God forgave him.”
Brady looked up with shock in his eyes.
A faint smile shadowed Matt’s lips. “In fact, he called him a man after his own heart.”
Father Mac nodded. He removed his hand from Brady’s shoulder and took a drink of his coffee. He wrinkled his nose. “Cold. Want me to warm it up?”
Father Mac didn’t wait for his answer, but dumped both cups and replaced them with hot. He set them on the table and sat back down. “King David was an unusual character. Loved God with all of his heart, but had this unfortunate flaw.” Father Mac paused to taste his coffee, then quirked his lips. “He was human. For instance, one day he’s dancing before the Lord in a linen ephod, not giving a whit that his wife thinks he’s making a fool of himself. Then down the road a bit, he’s lusting after a married woman he sees taking a bath on the roof of her house. And what does he do, this man who loves God with all of his heart? He takes her to his bed, then has her husband sent to the battlefront to be killed.”
Father Mac leaned in, his gaze intent. “He committed adultery and murder, yet he’s still the only man in the Bible God refers to as ‘a man after His own heart.’ Now why is that, I wonder? I’ll tell you why. Because David was a man who had a love affair with God. Imagine that—emotionally involved with the God of the Universe. Trusted Him, worshiped him, sought after him—and all without restraint. Did he mess up? You bet. Did he repent? With all of his heart, aching inside whenever he offended his God. Why? Because he had a Father-son relationship with him, loved him and wanted to please him.” Father Mac hesitated, slowly tracing his finger along the rim of his cup. He finally raised his eyes to capture Brady with a fixed stare. “Just like you, John.”
Brady looked away, swallowing the emotion trapped in his throat. “Cursed be he that lieth with his father’s wife. Deuteronomy 27:20.” His voice was flat. “How do you respond to that?”
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us … and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9.”
Brady peered through slitted lids. “And you believe that? For something as vile as this?”
“God is not a man, that he should lie. Numbers 23:19.”
A ghost of a smile flickered on Brady’s lips. “Since when do you have scripture down cold?”
Father Mac leaned back in the chair and pushed up the sleeves of his cassock. A hint of a smile appeared. “Since I began butting heads with you.”
“I know the scriptures, Matt. It’s just that when it comes to me, I have trouble believing they could apply.” He expelled a slow, jagged breath. “But you’re saying that if I confess right now … my sins with Lucille … they’re over with? Gone?”
“Cast into the depths of the sea. Micah 7:19.”
Brady closed his eyes, feeling the first glimmer of hope he’d felt in a long, long while. Over with. Gone. Miles away from guilty. As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.
He looked up at the touch of Father Mac’s hand on his arm. “You ready?” Father Mac asked, the hope in his friend’s eyes enough to stir his own.
Brady nodded, exhaling softly. He gripped Father Mac’s hand like a lifeline, a man desperate for absolution. “More than ready,” he whispered. He drew in a deep breath and made the sign of the cross, then bowed his head. “Bless me, Father, for I have sinned …”