My Science Fair boards never made it to the regionals at Roper Mountain. My animal cell model featured pipe cleaner mitochondria, and I used an entire bottle of rubber cement to create a cell membrane the very morning it was due. The glue was still far from dry when I inadvertently got myself high during my Biology class presentation. I lost my balance and fell back into my chair at my lab table. Grace. (Classmates who are still my friends today can confirm this incident.)
I was never the smartest student in class, but I considered myself a good student, and I thrived in certain subjects. I loathed daily homework tasks, but only because it meant I had to complete before I could focus on whatever local play I was currently in rehearsal for. I really did not mind certain long-term projects, however. In fact, I kind of loved when I had the chance to make a poster, wear a costume, or do anything creative to increase my chances for an A average. But I never put a great deal of extra evening or weekend effort into my science homework. Give me a book report, and I’ll give you the best shadow box you have ever seen. But give me a science, or even more dreadful, a mathematical assignment, and I was doomed.
My father was that rare gem---a scientist and an artist. He always took great interest in what my class projects were. It was eighth grade Earth Science. I had been assigned the task of creating a model of the Viking 2. Sitting at the kitchen table, I stared at what two photos I had in my textbook of the spacecraft. (A day in time prior to Google search images) “Seriously?!,” I thought, “I have to figure out how to create this, while my classmate can make Sputnik in two minutes with a ball and coat hanger?!” My thirteen-year-old self was quite sure I had more important things to do, like, say, learning the entire Broadway musical score of “Titanic: the Musical.” Before I could launch into a scene about the injustices of being in middle school, my father shuffled in the kitchen. “Ahh, the Viking 2, mission to Mars,” he said. Always vocal about how The Weekly Reader had influenced him as a small boy, my Dad loved science. I assured him there was absolutely no way to create a model of this, “weird Star Wars looking some sort of an alien Star Trek contraption.” He glanced again at the two small glossy photos, “Well, honey pot, I think with a couple of dental tools and some duct tape, it’s possible.” He had that twinkle in his eye. I think he wanted in. Looking back, the twinkle was more likely a flash of realizing he may have just sacrificed some quality nap time or a few innings of a Braves game for this assignment. (But that was him. And so many fathers and mothers. Working hard all day long to earn a living for their children, then coming home to work some more. I applaud you, parents.)
Hiking along the trails during the last couple of weeks, I saw there was clear evidence of past fires. Many trees charred and areas of the ground scorched. A nugget of Earth Science class emerged in my brain, making its way up from pop culture trivia and Hanson lyrics that had also been lodged in my mind two decades ago. The trail guide was explaining the reoccurrence of vegetation after a fire. He pointed out the dead and lifeless trees that were surrounded by new, green, and very lush plants springing from the ground. It was a stark sight. A seared oak standing among a pool of green plants.
(Photo credit: captured on my phone along the trail last week.)
There are positives to the destructive fires, he stated. Fires kill disease that can infect the soil, clean out overgrown shrubbery, and actually encourage regeneration and thriving of the land. He went on to say that the death was necessary and actually made it possible for the legacy of the vegetation to carry on and produce more life in the Earth.
For a ‘new life’, one that has been resurrected, there must first be death. A new life, so special, so integral to the world, that it would be worth dying for? God thinks so. So much so, He sacrificed His only son, to pay our penalty, and that in His resurrection, we too can be given NEW LIFE. Say whaaa?! It’s totally mind boggling, heart wrenching, and seemingly impossible to comprehend the depth of that LOVE. But that is what He did. And that is what He continues to do in our hearts everyday if we allow it. In the story I am telling, God is shifting and shaping me to adjust my vision, every single day, towards Him. I turn, and He gently pulls me back to gaze on Him. Not because He needs my worship or adoration, but because He LOVES me THAT MUCH. He is in pursuit of my heart, my trust, and the renewing of my mind to His likeness. My Creator knows that the ‘new life’ or ‘new self’ He is molding has far greater potential and vitality than anything.
“That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18 NLT)
My sweet Daddy, my Santa Claus, and during the spring season, his own given nickname, “The E.B.”, would celebrate. My basket was filled with chocolate(often sugar free when I was on a diet. The E.B. was thoughtful like that.) He loved so well, and I can only hope He knew how much He was loved by myself, and so very many. I do know, with great conviction, that His heart understood the love His God, His Father, and His Savior had for him. As dark as this world can be, and as messy and confusing as our minds can get, may we please, please sweet friends, truly soak in the love of God!? He loved us while we were still dead! And from death to life, He brings us! And His love for you never changes or goes away. It’s true. He cannot love you anymore or any less than He did on the very first Easter---as the stone was rolled away! May you call Him Father, Savior, and friend.
(Photo credit: My father, the E.B., gave me this Easter card a few years ago. He stated He loved me every day of the year, and leap years. Grateful I had him for as many Easters as I did.)
Happy Easter, sweet friends.