We are counting down the days until Easter.  Thankfully, this Easter is better than the last, but that wasn’t my hardest Easter.  My toughest one was 14 years ago when I was incarcerated.  It was also the Easter God gave me the most memorable meal I’ve ever had.

At that time, I believed Jesus liked me, and I knew His power since He’d healed me of my addiction.  But I didn’t think God wanted me.  I thought Jesus would have to sneak me into Heaven and talk God into letting me stay.  All that changed on Easter.

Holiday meals were tasty but always served by homesick, sobbing women.  It was unnerving, so I dreaded the Easter meal.  I laid in my bunk fanaticizing about a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on fresh bread with a cold glass of milk.  As a prison cook, I knew I might as well be dreaming of a unicorn.  There was no peanut butter in the pantry, and I hadn’t seen fresh bread since I started my sentence.  And our milk was always lukewarm and watered down.

When I went down to eat, crying women served the expected meal of ham with all the fixings, but that wasn’t all.  There were big jars of peanut butter and jelly with bread and milk.  With trembling hands, I assembled my precious meal.  The bread was so fresh it might have come right out of the oven, and mild was cold.  Real milk, not the watered-down swill we were used to, but ice-cold whole milk

I sat at a table and began to weep.  The love of God swept over me, and I couldn’t deny the miracle.  As a cook, I knew our prison pantry inside and out.  Those supplies hadn’t been there.  I can’t even wrap my mind around what God had to have done to get that sandwich to me to this day.  It was the best meal I have ever eaten, and I felt so treasured.  At that moment, I knew I would be meeting a Father in Heaven who would welcome me with open arms and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches if I so desired.

On Easter morning, Jesus rose from the dead and called God, “My Father and Your Father, My God and Your God.”  Jesus died to provide the sacrifice necessary to restore humanity’s lost relationship with the Father.  To give us access to the Father’s love, blessings, healing, wholeness, sound-mind, and peanut butter.

In honor of Easter, I’m going to share some song lyrics with you from Elevation Worship’s song, Graves into Gardens: “I searched the world, but it couldn’t fill me. Man’s empty praise and treasures that fade are never enough.  Then You came along and put me back together. And every desire is now satisfied here in Your love.  Oh, there’s nothing better than You. There’s nothing better than You, Lord. You turn mourning to dancing, You give beauty for ashes. You turn shame into glory. You’re the only one who can. You turn graves into gardens, You turn bones into armies, You turn seas into highways, You’re the only one who can!”

And He’s the only one who could have gotten that sandwich to me, and of all the beautiful things He’s done, that one was extra special.  I don’t know what blessings He’s bestowed upon you, but I pray this Easter will be one spent in appreciation of the extravagant love of the Father found in Christ Jesus.

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