My First Easter as a Christian


Meriam Matthews

April 23, 2000

It's kind of strange but God told me to do it this way this late chilly April, so I did……….

I arose before sunrise here in the  Great Smoky mountains of North Carolina where sunrises are miracles in themselves. Leaving my husband Jack asleep, I put on a heavy robe and some slippers, knowing it would be cold outside. It was somewhere in the 40's I guess.

I went outside on the deck facing our view and knelt down on a wooden bench to pray. I had no real plan but found myself imagining what life was like for Jesus from Passover to Resurrection, trying to place myself in the picture, in the very time during which it happened. In my mind, I walked with Him as he dragged his Cross through the streets, being ridiculed and reviled, bleeding from his thorny crown, and finally, as he had the cruel nails driven into His hands and feet.

I tried to feel the pain. I also felt the joy in the realization that the Old Testament prophesies -  that the Messiah had come and would save the faithful from eternal nothingness were all true. I felt both – joy and pain. My knees on the hard cold wood of the bench upon which I knelt were extremely painful and I had no choice but to stand up. I determined that if Jesus could endure such pain, surely there was something I could do.

I stood absolutely motionless for 45 minutes, hands clasped in prayer, watching the sky slowly lighten, brighten and redden as the sun rose over the peaks, the cold penetrating my muscles and bones.

 My mind kept saying, "He is risen" and my mouth automatically began reciting the Lord's Prayer. I found myself silently remembering over and over, the various Biblical prophesies, trying to understand how I, as a Jew, will live the rest of my life as a Saved Soul, a Christian.  Never before had I felt such fulfillment.

Having prepared for my first real Easter sunrise for a week by re-reading Luke, John, Acts and Romans, I found myself in the scene of the Passion itself, a bystander, watching it all happen and understanding just how it all took place and how there is NO POSSIBLE WAY this can be inauthentic. From atheism to secure faith……..a miracle.

During my private prayer time, my Catholic husband had arisen - and knowing his wife very well, came out on the deck, clasped his hands, knelt, crossed himself and said a silent prayer for about a minute. Then, without a word, he left me alone, knowing that a single word would break the spell of his Jewish wife's first Easter as a Christian.

When I determined, as the sun crept over the mountaintops in a huge reddened sphere, that my devotions and prayers were complete, I couldn't move. Without my realizing it, the cold had so chilled my muscles and ligaments and bones that it paralyzed this usually-fit lady. I'd never been in such a situation. It was excruciatingly painful to walk even two steps. I had no idea the cold had so chilled my joints and muscles. Losing track of the time and of the cold, it was clear my body and God were sending me a message. I managed, over my shock at not being able to move, to slowly turn toward the door into the living room, thinking, "If I feel this way, I can only vaguely imagine what Jesus had to have felt".  It was then I realized that a prayer had been answered. I asked God to let me know what Jesus felt like and to a lesser degree, He did exactly that. What a blessing in the pain!

Eventually, as I returned into the house and walked around slowly, my hip joints and muscles warmed along with my peaceful feeling of knowing that I am truly now one of Jesus' Children. I took a hot shower, dressed as if for Church (which I'd already attended on the back deck) and had coffee alone, quietly. Jack left me alone to ruminate and to pray.

At almost 60 years old, now I understand why and how people believe the “Jesus fairy tale”. There are times I feel sorry for some born-to-the-fold Christians who take all of this so much for granted. There is a feeling within me of sadness for Christians who have become complacent about what Jesus really did for them and how it should, but often doesn’t, affect their entire world view and behavior for the rest of their lives on a daily basis – often on a minute-to-minute basis.

Wanting to honor Jesus on this special day, I dressed up for the day, eschewing my usual casual clothing. As I walked into the kitchen, next to my empty coffee cup I found a handwritten Easter card from Jack, wishing me (for the first time) a "blessed" Easter. He never used the word "blessed" before. It was a special moment.

What follows is yet another sign that God works small miracles every day. Five weeks ago when we arrived here in the mountains, one of the first things I did was to set up my two hummingbird feeders on the back deck, happily anticipating the frisky hummers' buzzing and feeding. Sadly, no hummingbirds were to be seen. I adore hummingbirds.

But today, Easter Sunday in the year 2000, after I'd completed my prayers, my shower, my cleanup, my coffee, and my first Easter, the first hummingbird arrived to draw from my feeder.  Then another! Then two more, crazily chirping their tiny hearts out and chasing each other in a whirly Kamikaze frenzy of feeding! What a small miracle! A little gift from God, telling me that He did really recognize my conversion and my salvation as one of His children. My serenity was as deep as the ocean and my joy was almost uncontainable.

The rest of the day was equally wonderful in small ways – and “small ways” are to be appreciated as well as the great events that shape our lives.

While God shapes our lives with major events, He appears every single day in the smaller events which we miss if we are not looking for them. Hummingbirds. Hyacinth-perfume. Our pets’ trusting eyes.  A good book.  A child’s first words. A compelling speaker.  A spectacular sunrise or sunset. The soft sound of rain on green leaves. Fresh air. A foggy day in the mountains. The gentle and regular breathing of a sleeping loved one. Freedom. And truth that sets you free.

……………………. God is good.