Recently I asked the kids to help with with one piece of school planning. We needed a signal for the start of school. We always begin the day around the dining room table at 8:30 in the morning, but I wanted to pick a song that would signal to the kids that it was time to gather. I thought this might be a better alternative to me shouting their names, sometimes nicely, sometimes no-so-nicely.
I gave them one restriction — the choice needed to be an Andrew Peterson song. Since I’ve been listening to him for twenty years, Andrew’s voice has an immediate calming effect on me, which is advantageous when we’re gathering for school, for both teacher and students. He is the mother/teacher whisperer.
Andrew’s most recent album came out over Easter weekend. It’s entitled Resurrection Letters, Volume I. It is a prequel to an album he released over a decade ago. This most recent offering is all about Jesus’ resurrection — the actual event. The opening song, “His Heart Beats,” could not be more literal. We hear about Jesus’ heart beginning to beat again, his lungs filling with air, and him rising up to walk again.
Here is where a sanctified imagination can serve us. Let’s sit with the fact of the resurrection for a moment. A person that was dead “a moment ago” is now alive again. His skin warmed up. His eyelids opened. He spoke for the first recorded time, to Mary. Maybe he had to clear his throat first — can you imagine?
No, really — can you?
“The blood that brought us peace with God is racing through his veins,” Andrew reminds us. That blood was sitting still and pooled just a moment ago. It’s moving again.
If you know me at all, you know that Resurrection Sunday is my favorite day of the year. It’s better than Christmas or my birthday or even a British Royal Wedding (!). Charlotte always shows off on that Sunday. The azaleas are usually in full bloom that week; the early bulbs have given way to the later ones, and the trees are flowering. I am one of those people who insists on greeting people with “He Is Risen!” (– this is our one special thing, Christians! Let’s use it!) I usually make a few ridiculously decadent desserts. We jam our house full of people until it can’t hold anymore and they spill out onto the lawn. We eat and talk until we can’t do either anymore. My goodness, it’s wondrous. The reason we sing “Christ the Lord is Risen Today” is still true all these centuries later, and if I have anything to do with it, we’re going to have a party to celebrate.
But also — if you know me at all, here we are in August, and I’m anxious about the beginning of the homeschool year. No matter how long I do this — I begin year thirteen tomorrow morning — I still get scared every single year. Perfectionism nips at my heels and tells me I can’t do it. The lists rise up endlessly, and for some reason I convince myself that I must have everything decided/finished/perfect by 8:30 tomorrow morning. It’s a lie, and I fall prey to it every year.
I found myself grieved Saturday night, sending out a few emergency texts to friends to ask for prayer. I am blessed with faithful friends who responded with encouragement and promises to pray. I am blessed with a faithful husband who doesn’t give credence to my fears, but instead holds me when I cry and put too much pressure on myself.
Back to our song choice. The kids told me earlier this week that they wanted Andrew’s “His Heart Beats” to be our gathering song. It wasn’t my first choice. I probably would have picked something about family, or enjoying God in nature, or something Hobbit-ish (he has a few of those). But as the week wore on, and I battled emotion, fear, vulnerability, and perfectionism, the truth of the Resurrection rang like a crystal bell in my mind.
As I was laid bare by the temptations to grasp for control, Jesus’ faithfulness rose up to meet it. He said he would raise the temple up in three days’ time, and He did it. He just does not do these things in the way we expect. Our marriage, our family, our parenting, our story, has not looked at all as we expected. And yet — He is still faithful. He will do it.
Jesus is still just as alive on a Saturday in the middle of August as He is on the moment of sunrise on Resurrection Sunday morning.
My sin is just as dead as it was then.
Death itself is just as dead as it was that first Sunday, “very early on the first day of the week.”
And that, friends, is wind in my sails. That is why I can get up tomorrow morning, embrace my failings, take a step forward in my God-enabled strengths, and pull these kids along with me. It will not be easy. There will be days, just like there are every year, when I’m tempted to run out into the street and flag down that big yellow bus just to get a moment’s peace. Jesus died for that impatience, as well.
Happy first day of our school to you, friends. And if you’re up for it, turn this song on at 8:30 tomorrow morning and whisper a prayer for us. Jesus is alive, and He’s listening.
The last enemy to be destroyed is death. — I Cor. 15:26