As we enter into our Easter celebrations this week I can’t help but reflect on what Easter means. At the age of five one Sunday afternoon after church I remember hearing a voice louder than anything I could hear with my ears yet it was still and soft. The voice of Jesus was simply saying “Anita you need me.” With the pure faith of a child I went to my mom and told her I needed to ask Jesus into my heart. That afternoon we knelt by our 1970’s yellow and brown floral couch and I prayed to ask for forgiveness of my sins and for Jesus live in my heart. At the age of five there was not a true grasp of sin, Jesus was my best friend and I loved Him and knew that His love for me was greater than any kind of love. It was that simple. As I grew fears started to creep in. At the age of nine we moved to a new town and I desperately wanted to make friends and fit in. It was the first time in my life that I started to fear rejection. As pride, selfishness, vanity, and fears grew within me I started to focus more on pleasing the world instead of God. There was a time in my life that I lived a double life of acting out the church charade, but in the meantime strived to please my friends and sought after their approval instead of God’s. Of course with stepping outside of God’s protection there were consequences, guilt, shame, and pain that came along with my own way of choosing the paths in my life. You see I had no idea what my weaknesses were as a child. As a child I had no idea how very wicked and selfish my own heart could be. (Jeremiah 17:9) As we think or state out loud the “I would never do’s” Satan is listening very closely and at the right time will place the temptations and circumstances in our paths to test the “I would never do’s”. (1 Peter 5:8) It has been through my mistakes that God has shown me the depth of what Jesus did for me and for the world. You see God loves us so much that He sent His only Son Jesus, God in the flesh, to pay the price for our sin. (John 3:16) The realization that Jesus took every sin of mine and of all people upon Himself on that cross is mind boggling. It is a love that is so personal to know that despite my mistakes He loves me and calls me by name. At the age of five He already knew there would be a time I would try to step out on my own and test the teaching of the Bible. He called to me anyway. It is through my mistakes that I realize how I deserve nothing but death. (Romans 6:23) Because of God’s grace and mercy I have the gift of an abundant joy in life here on earth no matter my trials and eternal life in heaven when the time comes for my last breath. Easter is the celebration that Jesus is God. That He proved who He said He was by conquering death and raising again. He conquered sin, death, and brings true peace to the lives of those who truly give their all to Him. Our pastor discussed tonight how Satan wants to expose our sins and weaknesses to use against us. God allows our sin and weakness to be revealed so that we can give it all to Him. When we surrender our weaknesses to Him He then can refine us into the person He created us to be. He then can show us our true purpose in life. So Easter is a time to reflect on a love greater than anything this world could ever offer us. Jesus is alive and He is personal. He wants to be our friend and reveal to us the beauty our lives can have through having a relationship with Him.