My mother often cooked something special on Sundays. I can still remember the big open window in the living room, the unfolded table spread in the center, the delicious food, and the joyful family conversation.
If you have found Me, you have found the secret to experiencing life to the full. I am far more than a historical character who lived and died 2,000 years ago. Because I rose from the dead, I am even more alive and active today than I was when I walked the earth. And because I live, you too can experience life and love as they were meant to be experienced, both here and now, and forever—boundless and eternal. There is no hurt that I can’t heal, no sadness that I can’t turn to joy, no need that I can’t provide, no void that I can’t fill.
Faith permeated my life as a child. I never doubted the existence of a loving God who was concerned about my life, and who answered prayer and helped me on a daily basis. I prayed from the time I could form words. I sang songs about Jesus and loved Him. He was a very real presence in my life. When my great uncles died, it wasn’t a grievous occasion but a celebration of their passing on to a better world.
I’m a very competitive person and I’ve always loved taking chances and risks. The idea of investing a little in order to obtain big returns has always fascinated me.
I’m good at sports and games, but even when I was growing up, if there wasn’t a wager or reward involved in a tennis or ping-pong match or a game of Parcheesi, I lacked the incentive to play my best and enjoy the competition. As an adult, I loved the weekend poker games with friends that would sometimes go on and on until the morning hours.
Around last Easter, I was feeling lousy about myself, thinking I was falling short of the Gospel admonitions to love others and live an unselfish life. I felt I was caring too much about material things and had begun trying very hard to improve.
Then I had a curious experience while returning home in the crammed rush-hour bus. When my wife and I got on, a couple of young men kindly offered us their seats. Sally accepted, but not me. “No, thanks!” I said. “You actually look tired yourselves.”
When Jesus rose from the dead, His resurrection was the first phase of God’s new creation, a new kind of existence—a human body was transformed by the power of God into one that is no longer affected by death, decay, and corruption. Nothing like this had ever happened! “We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over Him.”1
I have been rubbing shoulders with death lately. My father-in-law passed away a month shy of his 99th birthday. My wife and I had been staying with him and my brother-in-law for the last five months. He was a grand old man who wanted to live to 100, but his body just didn’t last the distance.
Liz was mom’s best friend. I knew her from the tennis club where I worked after school and on weekends. She used to take time to chat as peers, which earned her high marks with me.
The late ’60s saw me morph from a conservative, shy, middle-class Jewish kid into a searching and very intense “dropped out” hippie. On one of my quests to find meaning in life, I visited all those I felt had influenced me for good. Of course, this included Liz.
When I was on earth, I told My disciples that I was going to prepare a place for us to be together forever.1 This place is for all of you who have invited Me into your hearts and lives‚ and I want it to be the most wonderful place there has ever been, perfect in every way. I have also made beautiful dwelling places for you to live, so you can be comfortable and enjoy the beauties of your heavenly home.
Picture a tiny, hard seed trapped in darkness. Rain falls, the sun shines, and within that seed, cells are multiplying. Soon there’s a green shoot of life. A new plant is growing.
Now picture a baby bird trapped in a hard, unwelcoming shell. A crack appears as the little creature pecks and scratches. Out comes a yellow chick, bright and fluffy.