I wrote this post last night, and this morning at church we sang this song:
"Oh death, where is your sting? Oh hell, where is your victory?...My God is not dead, he's alive! He's alive!"I think this is one of the best messages about Easter.
It's 10:27 pm, the night before Easter, and I've been thinking a lot about some of my secret fears.
One of them, I think I conquered today: for about a year now, I've been working on a piece by Charlie Parker on the alto sax called "Dewey Square." It's very difficult, and for the last few days, I was a little afraid to perform it...what if I messed up and completely ruined it? What if I'm not as good as I thought I was? What if all of that practice goes to waste? What if people think I stink at it? What if I made a mistake choosing to play the piece?
But I knew I had to.
Maybe I'm making this too sentimental, but when I first heard the original recording, I fell completely in love with it. It was fun, it was light, it was quick, and it felt like a song that entirely expressed overwhelming joy...and it's jazz. :)
So I learned it.
And then when the recital was coming up, and it was time for me to pick a tune to play, I couldn't choose any other one but Dewey Square.
Finally, approximately 5 hours ago as I write this, it was time for me to perform. I had never been so nervous leading up to a performance in my entire music career, probably because I've never worked so hard on a piece leading up to a performance before.
Let me introduce you to one of my secret fears: disappointing people. This falls under the same category of perfectionism and unnecessarily killing myself to make everyone like me, when it will inevitably never happen.
When I walked on the stage for the dress rehearsal, a wave of peace overcame me, and the rehearsal was practically perfect. At the final performance though, I was a little bit more nervous knowing that this was "the real thing." I messed up a couple of times, but hardly anyone noticed. When I watched my dad's videotape of the performance, I could tell where I messed up, but I knew that was only because I was the one on stage.
Afterwards, I felt so happy to have finished it once and for all. I found myself asking, "Why was I ever nervous and afraid in the first place?"
Tonight, I just finished watching "The Book Thief." As some of you know, the story is narrated by death, which for most of the film, absolutely sickened me. It was gross to hear how death would think of a person and his/her life in general. It was quite condescending.
The very last line in death's narration was this: "I am haunted by humans."
Isn't that perfectly excellent? I could not have been more happier about that statement when I heard it.
After all of the revolting language that death had used to describe mankind, the truth comes out: death is afraid of us.
This leads me to my confession of another secret fear: anything related to death, ghosts, horror, or evil that is invisible to me, or surprises me.
It's a funny thing about fear though: fear is something that often comes from something we feel threatened by, or unloved by.
For most of my childhood, I have hated Halloween, especially haunted houses, haunted house rides, ghosts and disgusting, horrifying images on the neighbors' houses, and worst of all: people who would invite me to stare all these things in the face...and enjoy it!
The reason I dislike these things so much is because they are the absolute opposite of who God is. God is life. Those things are death. God is love. Those things are fear. God is amazingly good. Those things are dripping with evil. God looks out for me, and keeps me safe in His arms. Those things want nothing but harm for me...or at least want to laugh at my fear. God says, "I love you, I will keep you safe, and all is well. You are so important." Those things laugh at me and try to make me feel small.
When I heard that death is haunted by humans, I rejoiced to God.
THANK GOODNESS that Jesus has overcome the dead. Praise the Lord that Jesus overcame death, giving us the privilege to be sons and daughters of God: which gives us MUCH more power over death.
And that's why death is afraid of us.
Now I can go to sleep tonight knowing that I need not be afraid of death. In all of my years being afraid of things relating to death, I know now that death is much more afraid of me, taunted by me, and hates me, because through Jesus's crucifixion and resurrection, I am no longer a small, meaningless lie, like death is.
Because of Jesus, we now represent death's greatest conqueror, which we also celebrate in Jesus's resurrection today:
"When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain." --1 Corinthians 15:54-58