(WARNING: The following may not be suitable for young children.)
Easter is one of my favorite times of the year. For me it holds beautiful childhood memories. New dresses and sandals, “sunrise” services, eating hot cinnamon rolls, and celebrating the Reason for my life, the resurrected Christ. However, there is one particular memory that is not of the beautiful ones. This memory is etched in mind because it was of earth-shattering proportions. As a child, I felt deeply, one might say I was dramatic, but that’s all subjective. The magnitude of emotion tied to this specific childhood memory remains tangible, even though many years have passed.
It was a typical Sunday of my childhood, which found me flipping through the comic section of our local newspaper, often referred to as “the funnies.” That was the point friends, this was an activity that should bring with it joy and laughter, but on this day, it would deliver a heart crushing reality that would shatter many hopes and dreams for my future. Within the comic section that bright spring Sunday morn was an ad for the Easter Bunny who would soon be visiting our local mall. Laying outside the open bathroom door, where my mother was getting ready for church, I sprang to my feet, threw the ad in front of her and shouted that I wanted to go see the Easter Bunny. At that moment, my life took a traumatic turn. My brother, who was just several feet away, likely eating his morning Wheaties and starring at Mary Lou Retton on the box, shouted with exasperation from the kitchen, “The Easter Bunny’s not real!”
Outraged by my brother’s ludicrous announcement, the heated banter began. My mother quickly jumped in, imploring my brother to stop. Nonetheless, my brother, in his much older and wiser by 3 whole years insight, insisted that it was time I knew the truth. As if this blow about the Easter Bunny was not enough, he looked me in the eye and matter-of-factly stated that this make-believe world included not only the Easter Bunny but also the Tooth Fairy and Santa. Then he proceeded to explain how these roles had been portrayed all my livelong life by the people I trusted most, my parents.
At that point, I looked to my mother for assurance that my brother’s statements had surely been completely off the rails, but that reassurance did not come. Her face was empathetic, and her voice fell silent. My eyes filled with tears and my heart with rage. I turned for my room, slammed the door, and fell in my pile of Care Bears sobbing my devastated self into them seeking comfort.
My little wrecked heart was certain these figures that had delivered joy into my life on many occasions were most definitely real. As I lay there in my stuffed pile of care, I tried to reason myself through the facts, the proof of what I knew to be true. What about the jingle bells that beckoned me to a present filled porch on Christmas Eve? What about teeth that had been mysteriously exchanged for dollar bills under my pillow? As much as I tried to reason with myself, I kept seeing my mother’s face and hearing my brother’s words, landing in a place of doubt that stole a slice of my little girl innocence. I told you this was earth-shattering, people. My experiences with the Bunny, Fairy and Clause did not hold any assurance in their validity. My certainty in that one moment had turned to uncertainty.
The definition of CERTAIN according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary:
: FIXED, SETTLED a certain percentage of the profit
2: of a specific but unspecified character, quantity, or degree the house has a certain charm
3a: DEPENDABLE, RELIABLE a certain remedy for the disease
b: known or proved to be true: INDISPUTABLE it is certain that we exist
4a: INEVITABLE the certain advance of age
b: incapable of failing: DESTINED —used with a following infinitive she is certain to do well
What is certain these days anyway? What is one thing that can be held as fixed, settled, dependable, reliable, indisputable, inevitable, and destined?
God. God defines certain. He is the One Sure Thing in this life that is filled with uncertainties. Nothing in this life is promised or sure. Yet, we long for certainty because we were made to long for the One who is certain, God. Looking for something certain in uncertain times often causes us to grab hold of things that are temporary and give us a false sense of security. Situations and circumstances arise beyond our control such as pandemics. Then we listen to the news for hope, Google for answers, trust in wisdom from family and friends, doctors and specialists, all of this in an attempt to gain control and certainty of the uncertain. So, what makes God certain?
“Faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see.” Hebrews 11:1
Faith is the bridge to this assurance and certainty in God. Deep faith that brings peace, stability, and certainty in uncertain times requires surrender. Surrender recognizes weakness in light of undeniable greatness. It’s much like a white flag waved in battle. Before that white flag is lifted, there comes a moment of awareness, recognizing the power and strength on the other side of that white flag is more significant. A level of trust comes with that surrender, believing there will be better results in the end if control is relinquished to another.
Step into the remarkable moments before the cross and the grave. These powerfully demonstrate surrender. Jesus is in the Garden of Gethsemane, praying to His Father.
And He said, “Abba, Father! All things are possible for You. Take this cup away from Me. Nevertheless, not what I will, but what You will.” Mark 14:36
Here is Jesus in the direst of circumstances, asking His Daddy (Abba) if there is any other way to accomplish His good plan. Tenderly, Jesus addresses His Father as His Daddy, demonstrating trust. That trust then builds as Jesus surrenders His temporary, and distressing situation to an eternal plan. Jesus had faith in His Daddy. Despite what He was feeling and was about to experience, He trusted that God, His Father had a plan that was good and best. Control relinquished.
What were the better results of this surrender?
God’s good plan included anyone who would claim Him as their One sure thing. This work of surrender placed Jesus on a cross to conquer sin and death, providing the opportunity for others to call on God as their own “Abba, Father.”
“All those led by God’s Spirit are God’s sons. For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father!” The Spirit Himself testifies together with our spirit that we are God’s children, and if children, also heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ—seeing that we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.”
Now read these same verses in the Message version:
15-17 This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It’s adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike “What’s next, Papa?” God’s Spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are. We know who he is, and we know who we are: Father and children. And we know we are going to get what’s coming to us—an unbelievable inheritance! We go through exactly what Christ goes through. If we go through the hard times with him,
then we’re certainly going to go through the good times with him!
This life is not certain. There will be minor disappointments and earth shattering circumstances that will deliver sadness, fear and devastation, but if we raise the white flag of surrender our faith will grow roots and we will see God in the unseen.
My certainty in God is not like my memories of the unseen Bunny, Fairy, or Claus because I have seen God in ways that are undeniable to me. There is not a person who could refute His authenticity to me, because in the moments of my life that have pulled me to my knees and I have chosen surrender I’ve most certainly experienced my “Papa”.
Jesus said, “Because you have seen Me, you have believed. Those who believe without seeing are blessed.” John 20:29
For further reflection:
- What might be a situation or circumstance that you need to surrender to the certainty of God?
- Is there something that you are looking to for certainty to bring a sense of hope or assurance?
- Can you look back at a difficult time in your life, where things were uncertain and see how God showed up as your Papa?
- Are you struggling with certainty in God? Is there someone in your life who seems certain of God that you could talk with about their experience?