These are the nametags we wore at church yesterday to represent what Easter means to us. Mark's is on the left and Jill's is on the right.

These are the nametags we wore at church yesterday to represent what Easter means to us. Mark’s is on the left and Jill’s is on the right.

Jill: Yesterday was an odd Easter for us. There were no family pictures, no Easter eggs, no Easter dinner. Not because Easter isn’t important, but simply because of the season of life our family is in.

Mark: The kids were either too far away, celebrating with the inlaws or their significant other’s family, or busy with church responsibilities.  Jill and I served at church at both the morning and the evening services, and believe it or not, we spent the five hours in between church services cutting trees from this winter’s ice storm and burning limbs.  Yep….Happy Easter to us!

Jill: Yet both of us remarked that we wouldn’t have had it any other way. Why?  Because of the word US. We were together. We were working together. We were celebrating the resurrection.

Mark: Easter is very important to Jill and I, first because of Christ’s resurrection and what that did for our faith. Second, because of my resurrection and what that did for our marriage.

Jill:  There are three parts to Easter: Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Friday was darkness, Saturday was silence, and Sunday was the resurrection.  Sometimes we experience something similar in life.

Mark: 2011 was a year of darkness for me. I had transitioned from 20 years of ministry to being a business owner. As that transition merged with my 50th birthday, I began to lose my footing emotionally and spiritually.  I moved from discouragement to disappointment to disillusionment. In my disillusionment I decided I wasn’t going to do things God’s way anymore. I was doing it my way. As I gave into my own selfish flesh, I ended up a full blown mess. I had an affair. I left my my wife and family. I believed, in my own desperation, that I could ride off into a new relationship and life would be great. I created a huge mess and that “Friday,” metaphorically speaking, was dark.

Jill: When it’s dark you’re holding on for dear life. I knew Mark was struggling but nothing I did or said made any difference. When I discovered the affair, the dark became even darker.

Mark: Over 9 months of time, I went back and forth between my marriage and the other relationship 7 times. I was a conflicted man during the “Saturday” of that season. God seemed silent and I remained lost. In the midst of all of that a friend introduced me to the writings of Andrew Murray. Andrew was an 18th century pastor whose writing reminds me of a loving grandfather leading you to understand God better. Andrew wrote a powerful book called Absolute Surrender that really spoke to me in the midst of my confusion. I learned from Andrew that absolute surrender was a must for the successful Christian life. I thought that Jesus had been Lord of my life, but as I read Absolute Surrender I discovered I had really never fully surrendered to God.

It was Easter Sunday 2012, when I heard Father God clearly speak to me saying, “Mark, if you will trust me for the mess, I will take care of everything else!” I was desperate for peace. I knew I’d made a mess and I wanted that mess to be gone. I knew that surrender was what I needed to do.

Were there things in my marriage I wanted to see change? Absolutely. Was I scared to recommit? Absolutely. Was it the right thing to do? Absolutely.

Sitting at home Easter morning, I surrendered. Fully. 100%. I stopped fighting God. I stopped telling God what to do. I can’t even begin to describe to you what that felt like. It was an incredible peace.

The image I have carried since is that I am walking down the middle of the road holding the hand of my true Father, going at His pace, where He wants to go and how He wants to get there.  I am fully surrendered to Him. This was completely foreign and new in the beginning, but I have really grown to be at peace with this and Him.

Jill: Mark is truly a different person since Easter 2012. There is a steadiness to him I’d never seen in the first 28 years of our marriage. He’s loyal, committed, and peace-filled. He has inspired me to learn to surrender more, as well.  To surrender control. To surrender criticism and judgment. To surrender to God’s plan and God’s way.

Even yesterday when Easter played out the way that it did: no family celebration. No ham. No deviled eggs.  Cutting trees and working together in the yard was all right by me. It was God’s plan for two people who have learned to surrender to celebrate the beauty of the resurrection.

Mark: Where are you fighting God today?  What do you need to let go of and let God lead? How are you trying to “lead God” instead of let God lead you?  I’m telling you, absolute surrender will give you a resurrection experience you are longing for!

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