Tonight (4/7), I attended my first Easter Vigil. After standing and sitting for ten readings out of the Old Testament, singing songs, and opening my palm (the closest I’ll ever get to raising hands during a service), the pastor delivered the sermon. In short, he informed the congregation that we were all sinners. Every last one of us. However, the good news was that “while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8, ESV). Christ never said no to God, He continually lived a life of obedience unto death that resulted in the salvation of the world. As a result, as sinners, we can know the love of God that is displayed through Christ Jesus. Christ conquered death so that we may live, despite the fact that we have made ourselves enemies of God through our sin.
However, on Easter morning, Christ conquered death and overcame hell through the Resurrection. It is through the Resurrection that we find the hope of new life, one renewed by the transformative power of Christ.
Perhaps this is where my story begins.
During the Lenten season, I abstained from initially good things that consume my time and control me emotionally. It was hard, and many times, I caved under pressure. Rather than pray or read my Bible or help someone, I went back to the time-consuming habit. Not always, but sometimes. Regardless, I realized that I am controlled by something so simple, yet so complex at the same time. During tonight’s vigil, I finally comprehended that I was a sinner. Of course, I knew I was a sinner, but tonight I truly experienced a moment of knowledge where I realized that because I turn my back on God and try to control my own life, I am a sinner. It was at this point, where our Lenten practices ceased for the year that I also discovered that nothing, except the love of God through Jesus Christ, will make you or me happy.
Good grades will not make us happy.
Boyfriends or girlfriends will not make us happy.
No amount of comfort food will make us happy.
Having all the Facebook friends or all the Twitter followers or all the blog readers will not make us happy.
No momentary word of approval will make us happy.
Sex will not make us happy.
Friends, family, and other precious people will not make us truly, eternally happy.
The endless search for the elusive “something more” or a promotion or a pay raise will not make us happy.
Only Christ can make us fully, truly happy. No, the cruciform life of Christ is not one for the faint of heart. It is not a road of fulfilled, earthly bliss. In fact, the Christian life is sometimes lonely, hard, and frustrating. It requires the surrendering of one’s will and acknowledging that only Christ as God can save us. It requires saying “no” to the standard the world sets and saying “yes” to a God that has reached down into humanity and pulled us out of the mire.
Nothing will make you happy. Only Christ.
And sometimes, it takes 40 days and an Easter Vigil for a Christian of 17 years to understand this.