Hope in a renewed future is one of the most profound gifts of a life of faith.
- David Hartman
When our oldest sons were small, our church had a sunrise service on Easter.
Lonny and I would pull our little guys from bed while it was still dark and drive a few miles to the county park. When we’d arrive, there’d be a small gathering of people under the rustic shelter. Little by little, the gathering would grow, until the shelter was pressed full. We’d pull lawn chairs close. Some of us sat on long picnic benches. Logan and Grant curled on our laps, pajama-clad and tousle-headed. They’d chase away sleep by rubbing their eyes.
The praise band brought guitars, and as we wrapped in blankets to keep warm, we’d start to sing. Our voices blended with start-of-the-day sounds of nature, making a pure and powerful praise. And while we were singing, before our pastor stood to speak, the sky would change. The deep, dark night was pushed away. The sky filled with gentle colors–orange and pink and yellow and fresh blue. It was striking.
Daylight washed over the darkness. The sky filled with light.
As I remember those sweet sunrise mornings, I’m still in awe of that sky. I think it’s because it’s a picture of what Jesus has done for me. His love removed my guilt. His grace removed my shame. His mercy washed over my hopelessness.
He replaced my darkness with his light.
I could never earn it. Never, ever deserve it.
It’s a grace gift that’s rich with the most powerful kind of love.
This Sunday, we’ll celebrate Easter. My family has moved and we’re no longer members of the church that celebrates at the park each year. The church service at our new church home will begin at nine. But maybe I’ll get up early. Maybe I’ll sit on the porch in the wee hours to witness the sunrise. Maybe I’ll wait, watch the sky and whisper praise into the daybreak.
Oh Jesus, thank you for what you’ve done for me!
Shawnelle Eliasen and her husband Lonny have been married for twenty-five years. They have five sons and raise their bevy of boys in an old Victorian near the Illinois banks of the Mississippi River. Their sons, Logan, Grant, Samuel, Gabriel, and Isaiah, range in age from twenty-one to six with Shawnelle home teaching the youngest three.
Shawnelle has been writing for six years, contributing regularly to Guideposts magazine, Daily Guideposts devotional and other inspirational publications. She would say that life with her men moves faithfully, on fast forward. But it’s her heart’s desire, her passionate prayer, to see God’s goodness and glory in the fullness of her days. She longs to see Him in the unexpected moments, unexpected places, changing the ordinary to extraordinary and bringing quiet, sustaining grace.