A few years ago, right before Easter, my husband and I were on a flight from the East Coast to London to visit our daughter studying at Oxford. We were only twenty minutes into the flight when the right engine blew. There was first a deafening BOOM, and then we saw fire at the right engine outside our window. The smell of smoke started to fill the cabin.
It. Was. Terrifying.
There was an eerie silence on the plane. Except for one crying baby, everyone was completely still and quiet after the initial shock of the BOOM. My thoughts immediately went to our daughters as I prayed for our safety.
The pilot’s calming voice spoke over us, saying we were turning around for an emergency landing. There was no flying over the ocean to drop fuel like you hear about. I think they wanted us to land quickly before the other shoe (or engine) dropped. The pilot warned us that fire trucks would be lining the runway, due to our full load of fuel, and the stress that would have on the brakes when we landed.
Obviously we made it back safely . . . but not before this traveler’s heart focused a bit more on eternity.
The next day the airline let us reroute our flight plans to Venice and we had Christie meet us there to keep our hotel reservations secure. We and our daughter flew to Venice from two different continents, landed in different airports, and took separate water taxis to the dock for our hotel. When I got off the boat, I scanned the crowd and immediately saw Christie’s blonde hair and smiling face in the crowd coming toward us. Her boat had arrived just moments before. I will never forget that joyful, tearful “hello” after many months apart and an engine failure on our journey to get to her.
I wonder if it might be like that in heaven when I see loved ones who have gone before me. We’re told a thousand years here is like only a day in heaven. Perhaps it will seem as if it was “only yesterday” when we finally see each other again. Perhaps—even though she died four years ago—it will be as if my mother also just arrived and I catch a glimpse of her beautiful blue eyes in the crowd as she is running toward me.
I am overwhelmed by the hope we have in Jesus Christ!
. . . by His death for me
. . . by the empty tomb.
When I had those few moments of fear on that airplane—wondering if the other engine might fail or if we would land safely—I was struck by a peace that quickly covered me, a peace that is only found in Him.
In Isaiah 25:8, we’re told that “He will swallow up death forever.” Because of Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection, we can declare with the writer of 1 Corinthians 15:54–55:
“Death is swallowed up in victory
O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?”
When Jesus walked this groaning earth, He understood the deep sorrow of losing a loved one. Just days before His own death, Jesus said these words to a grieving sister whose brother, Lazarus, had just died:
“I am the resurrection and the life.
The one who believes in me will live, even though they die;
and whoever lives by believing in me will never die.
Do you believe this?” (John 11:25–26).
Oh, that we would be filled with *awestruck wonder that His tomb is empty and He is on the throne! So often I take for granted all that He died to give me, and I just go through the motions in this lenten season. I want to seek more wonder of Him this Easter!
Will you join me?
Let’s try to push pause—even if it’s just for a few moments each day—during these next 40+ days leading up to Easter. Let’s find time to dwell with Jesus in the Gospels, focusing on His life, death and resurrection. Several online devotionals are available to prepare our hearts for Easter. I plan to use one of these offered at biblegateway.com starting on March 1.
There is also a powerful new Bible study that you might want to consider leading up to Easter, though it is appropriate for any time of the year. Author Kim Erickson has written His Last Words: What Jesus Taught and Prayed in His Final Hours. This 7-week, verse-by-verse study through John 13–17 focuses on Jesus’ last hours with His disciples before His death. Visit Kim’s bio at LoveMyWord.com and see why last words matter in a special way to her after the death of her three-year-old son, Austin.
What about you? What does His empty tomb mean to you and your own faith journey? I’d love to hear how you keep the focus on Him during this Easter season.
*Listen for “awestruck wonder” mentioned in this official live video for “Revelation Song” by Chris Tomlin (featuring Kari Jobe) at the Red Rocks Amphitheater in Morrison, Colorado. I was at that concert and some of my favorite lyrics are “Filled with wonder. Awestruck wonder at the mention of Your name.” Live recording available on the Deluxe Edition of “Burning Lights.” Music video by Chris Tomlin performing Revelation Song. (C) 2013 sixstepsrecords/Sparrow Records