"Used tombstone for sale." That's what the ad said and the Milwaukee newspaper, "Used tombstone for sale." A real bargain for someone named Dingo. For information, call. It seems obvious to me that Dingo must have been a Christian because who else wouldn't need a tombstone? Tombstones indicate the end. You've invested yourself in life and now it's over. But the church simply isn't tombstone territory. We are Easter people, and Easter people believe death is not the end. Now the gospels were created by four different writers and different places, but they all agree on the same basic things. There's no dispute. When? Early in the morning on a Sunday. Who? Women go to the tomb. What? The stone is gone. How? Angels or there's some kind of Supernatural encounter. They discover the tomb is empty. The result? Fear and confusion. Fact? Jesus isn't there. All four gospels share these same basic seven things. It's pretty remarkable, don't you think? Four documents, nearly 2,000 years old, all with the same basic eyewitness testimony. That's strong. And that right there is the bedrock foundation of the Christian faith. We are Easter people. That means our lives are filled with holy moments. Easter people know that faith conquers fear. I learned that again a few years ago. Holy Week is very special to me and it always has been. I have certain expectations for how I want the week to unfold and how I hope to encounter God. I mean, I love Maundy Thursday. I yearn for Good Friday, and then Easter. I mean, this is it. This is the main event.
But a few years ago, God had other plans for me. I got a stomach virus of some kind on Monday, and given the fact that I don't have a colon anymore, that can mean trouble. I know very well that I need to pay attention to how my body responds and every few years I have to go to the hospital for dehydration. Usually, two IV bags, 12 hours, and then I'm home. But this time I waited. And I waited too long, thinking it would pass and I didn't want to disrupt my holy week. Anita said, "Go to the hospital." I said, "No, I'm smarter than you are. No, I'll wait, I'll wait," until Tuesday, I got so weak that she won and we went to the hospital. Went in the ER, explained the situation, they took blood, the doctor came in with a file and it said in red letters, "Renal failure." And he looked at Anita and began to speak to her and he said, "You waited too long. He's completely dehydrated. His kidneys are shutting down. His pulse rate's twice what it's supposed to be. We got to act now, and it may take a while." So I got to spend Holy Week in the hospital. That's one of the worst punishments you could ever give me. But two things happened to remind me that I am an Easter person. First, the unique and very powerful holy moment of having my wife kneeling next to me as I lay on that gurney, praying, as the nurse began treatment. The situation was worse than expected but instead of fear, through that prayer as we held hands, we both had a deep supernatural peace, a true holy moment where we realized faith conquers fear. And then with time and the remarkable simplifying that happens to your life when you're in the hospital, I also had some time with God, where he could reveal to me some of the resentments in the hurts that I've been carrying toward a number of people in my life. And I wrote them all down. It was a pretty long list, unfortunately. And then I prayed and I released that baggage and all the toxic waste that I was carrying. And what was inside of me that had been dead became alive again. Another holy moment. What looked to be a miserable Holy Week became a grace encounter with the risen lord because faith conquers fear.
Easter people know where they're going. We know where we're going. I remember, as one man told me, "God's not in the business of granting wishes. He's in the business of raising the dead, not all of whom are willing." Easter means we know where we're going, as that man says. Suppose an unborn infant in the womb is able to speak and think. Suppose someone says to her, soon you must leave this place to be born. You're going to enter a different realm." The infant might protest and say, "Nah, I like it here. I'm fed. It's warm. I feel loved. I don't want to leave this place to be born." But nature takes its course and the baby is born. After she endures a slap on the bottom and good cry, she looks up into a loving face, and she's cuddled into loving arms. And soon she discovers that she can get anything she wants if she just coos or cries. So the infant says to herself, "This is nicer than I thought it would be." Childhood passes. She becomes a teenager, then an adult, and then she grows old. Her bodily parts begin to ache and to wear out. And one day, the thought of death begins to worry her and she says to herself, "I like this place. I don't want to leave. Death scares me." Nature, again, takes its course and she dies. What happens then? Jesus promises that his children will be purified and born once more. She will look into a face more beautiful than her mother's. Loving eyes look down on her and beneath her or everlasting arms. She will be born again into a Heavenly realm where there is no pain. There is no death. There is no sin. She will be home at last. In other words, we don't need tombstones. We are Easter people.