Saturday, April 07, 2007
the empty egg
To my great shame, I must admit that I don't share the gospel very often. Hardly ever, in fact. Part of that is due to the fact that I'm married to a pastor and I work for a mission organization. All of my neighbors go to church. I don't rub elbows with pagans very often . . .
And I'm a big, fat coward.
And . . . sometimes I just don't care.
Like I said, I am ashamed of this character flaw of mine. And when I went on my three day beach retreat last month, I talked a lot to the Lord about it. I asked Him to give me His heart for those who don't know Him--and I asked for more opportunities to share His story.
Today, I had a very unexpected opportunity to do just that.
Danielle decided to bring the three Somalian (Muslim) girls she mentors to the house to bake cup cakes and hunt Easter eggs. She'd asked me to fill the plastic eggs with goodies and hide them while she picked the girls up. As I was stuffing chocolate robin's eggs and jelly beans into the pastel eggs, I remembered the "resurrection eggs" I'd made for my first-grade Sunday School class last Easter.
They were still in the carton where I'd packed them away after church last year. Each of the twelve eggs had a number and contained a tiny symbol of the Easter story. (Rather than shell out $15 at the Christian book store, I'd opted to make my own.) I decided to hide the homemade resurrection eggs along with the candy-filled ones and let Danielle tell the girls the Easter story.
Danielle had other ideas.
"Mom, could you do it?" she asked, batting her big blue eyes at me.
"Uh, sure," I said, wishing I'd peeked into the eggs before I hid them. But the story was simple enough. How hard could it be?
The 3 girls found all 30 eggs in about five minutes flat. They were inhaling jelly beans when Danielle rounded them up and had them sit on the floor.
"My mom wants to tell you a story," Yellie said with her cute Somalian accent. "Some eggs have numbers. Who has number one?"
Halima, the oldest, help up a yellow egg with a #1 written on it. Unfortunately she'd already cracked all her eggs and the contents of eggs #1, #7 & #9 were mixed up with her candy.
I pressed on: "Who has egg number 2?"
Habiba, the youngest, proudly handed me the intact egg. Relieved, I opened it, only to realize I had no idea what the dried-up thing inside it was supposed to be.
The children gazed at me expectantly while I looked helplessly at Danielle.
"I'm not sure I know how to tell this story," I said, hoping for some assistance.
"So, what is that thing, Mom?" Danielle asked, peering unhelpfully into the egg.
I vaguely recalled putting a piece of fiddle head fern in an egg last year, to represent the palm fronds waved by Jesus' admirers during the Triumphal Entry. When I picked it up to show the girls, it crumbled to dust . . .
"Well, Isau came to visit the people and they really liked Him and waved leaves at Him," I said lamely.
Before they could question this odd statement, I quickly asked for egg #3. Hdifa gave me her egg which contained a torn piece of fabric. I couldn't remember if this represented Jesus' garments being divided or the veil in the temple being rent in two. And what was it doing in egg #3? Wasn't that further along in the story?
So I just skipped it and went on to egg #4, which contained a strip of leather.
"The leather is for the whip they beat Isau with," I told the girls, relieved that at least I'd gotten that one right.
"Why they beat Isau?" Habiba asked, her little face crinkling with concern.
"Allah is like our father, right?" I asked, not having a clue where I was going with this. The girls nodded.
"People--all people, including us--do bad things," I continued. "Allah gets angry and has to punish the bad things we do--like you are punished when you are naughty at home. Don't you ever get in trouble?" I asked Halima, who is 13.
She looked confused. "What is 'punished'?" she asked.
"Like when your mom yells at you when you are bad," Danielle chimed in. Finally.
Halima grinned. "Oh, yeah," she said.
"Well, because Isau loves us, He let Allah get mad and punish Him so we wouldn't be punished," I told them.
Hdifa examined a nail, that had fallen out of egg #6. "I know what this is!" she exclaimed.
"That is how they punished Jesus--they nailed Him to a cross," I explained, motioning with my arms how the soldiers stretched Him out on the cross-beam. "They hammered these big nails through His hands--His skin and bones--and through His feet, so Isau would hang on the cross and die there."
"But why they kill Isau?" asked Hdifa. "He do bad things too?"
"Isau did only good things," I answered. "He never bad."
About this time, Scout, who scares the girls silly, came trotting into the room. Habiba shrieked and Hdifa grabbed for her candy, ready to bolt. I knew it was time to open the last egg.
"Scout, sit!" I commanded and waited for the girls to simmer down.
"OK, who has the last egg--number 12?"
"I do," said Hdifa, triumphantly waving her prize.
"Open it and tell me what's in it," I instructed. "And look very closely, for this is the most special egg of all."
Hdfia carefully opened her egg, then looked at me with disappointment.
"There nothing in there," she said, double-checking just to make sure.
"Yes, it is empty," I agreed. "That's because when Isau's friends went to visit His grave 3 days after He was dead and buried, they found it empty," I said. "Isau had been made alive and after talking with His friends, went to be with Allah in heaven."
"Isau is alive? He here?" asked Halima, clearly puzzled.
"He is alive and He is in heaven," I answered. "But He is in our hearts, too, if we are His followers."
I felt like the Spirit gave me one last thought to share.
"You know girls, Mohammed was a great teacher--and his bones are still in his grave. And so are the bones of Abraham. But Isau--his grave is empty. They are dead, but Isau is alive!"
The girls grabbed their loot and scampered off, giving me no feedback on my very feeble rendition of the Easter story.
But I just felt like I'd done the most important thing in the world.
"Mom, I'm so proud of you," Danielle told me later as we cleaned up the mess.
I just hope Isau is just a little bit proud of me, too . . .