One night I was sitting on Hope’s bed with at bedtime, tucking her in and enjoying a few minutes of conversation, when we decided to do “roses, thorns, and buds.” This is a family thing we do sometimes where we each share a highlight of our day (a rose), a hard part of our day (a thorn), and something we are looking forward to (a bud). I spoke first, and then it was Hope’s turn to share: “Mommy, my thorn was getting in an argument with Julie on the bus.” When I asked her to tell me more about that, she answered soberly: “Mommy, Julie does not believe that Jesus is real.” She sounded wounded as she relayed their conversation to me, and her heart seemed genuinely grieved by what her friend had said to her. I assured her that there would be many times when we would be faced with friends and neighbors and classmates who do not believe in Jesus, and I encouraged her to always share her faith with confidence and to not let other people’s reactions discourage her. She listened to my counsel and then had this to add: “And, Mommy, she ALSO said my LuLaRoe leggings were turquoise! They are NOT turquoise! They are dark and light green.”
I struggled to contain my laughter at this second part of her “thorn” story. But the more I thought about it, the more I was struck by how the offense taken over leggings colors did not diminish the offense taken over the denial of Christ: quite the contrary. What this encounter revealed was that for Hope, Jesus is as real and present and tangible to her as the pants on her legs. Jesus is not abstract. Jesus is not an idea. He is personal, real, and important to her.
The morning after this conversation with Hope, my good friend Dick Staub posted a poem on Facebook in honor of Holy Week. The poem, “Seven Stanzas at Easter” by John Updike, contains these lines:
Let us not mock God with metaphor,
Analogy, sidestepping, transcendence,
Making of the event a parable, a sign painted in the faded Credulity of earlier ages…
Let us not seek to make it less monstrous,
For our own convenience, our own sense of beauty,
Lest, awakened in one unthinkable hour, we are embarrassed By the miracle.
Perhaps one of our biggest barriers to speaking quickly and frequently about Christ to our friends and neighbors is that Jesus can sometimes feel more like an idea than a real person. I am convinced that regularly giving our testimonies is the greatest evangelistic tool at our disposal. We may not get to be the women who stumble upon angels at empty tombs, but we are a church where God shows up! God answers prayers! God changes hearts and forgives sins and enables reconciliation! We have good news to share, and we should not be afraid to do so. In Prince Caspian, Lucy is reunited with Aslan and he tells her:
“Go back to the others now, and wake them up; and tell them you have seen me again; and that you must all get up and follow me.”
“But they won’t believe me!” said Lucy.
“It doesn’t matter.”
Our testimony of the risen Christ is real. In our schools, in our marriages, in our finances, in our vocations: we each have a story to tell! And the power of our stories is not necessarily our ability to persuade but rather that “testimony sets something in motion, the impulse to go and see.” May we be like the women at the tomb who ran quickly to share the miracle.