BY KAYLYN LANIER
Do you ever read a book and fall in love with that plot, character, location, culture? Captivated by another world, your imagination paints each detail with dedicated specificity. You know this place. Then, you hear of an upcoming film adaptation of this beloved book. How exciting, your imagination becoming sight! Yet, you temper your excitement because you know this production can never compare with your imagination.
I am a book lover, and I do exactly the same thing.
I have studied the Bible since I was a little girl. It captivates me! I have watched the movies and documentaries, listened to the podcasts, participated in the debates. My imagination has strolled among those peoples in those places throughout my life.
In 2012, I was given the opportunity to travel to Israel and see it all for myself. Excited? Yes, I was excited! But, would it be like I had imagined? Let me go on and tell you: it wasn’t. My imagination fell so far short of reality! It wasn’t like going from black-and-white to color. It was the difference between primitive cave painting and 3-dimensional, surround-sound Hollywood masterpiece. Not even that analogy captures the true impact.
We traveled the expanse of Israel, filling every possible second. Each night, we fell into our beds utterly exhausted but excited for the next adventure. We entered the Holy City, Jerusalem. We walked the Mount of Olives and the narrow walkways of the Old City. We prayed at the Western Wall. We retraced the steps of the Via Dolorosa, the path Jesus endured to His crucifixion. We visited the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. My imagination became sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch with every step.
Lastly, we came to the Garden Tomb.
In that garden, speaking at a normal volume felt sacrilegious. The atmosphere compelled us to whisper, if we spoke at all. After years of imagining this place, I stepped through the opening of the tomb into its inner chambers. I stared at the cave opening and effortlessly visualized the Roman soldiers who had been assigned to guard the tomb of a then-dead man. I envisioned the women approaching the tomb but finding Jesus no longer there. He was alive! He is alive!
It was real. It is real. I know to the very marrow of my bones that every word of the Bible is true.
Maybe Jesus is a stranger to you. Maybe you know the stories about Jesus or were even raised in church yet walked away. Whatever your story is, I am here today to tell you that Jesus gave His life for you. Yes, YOU! He chose to hand Himself over to His enemies and endure torture. He chose to carry His cross on the Via Dolorosa. He chose silence amidst mocking and jeers. He chose not to retaliate as He was crucified. All that, He did for you. Over His own life, He chose you!
It would be so easy to believe it is all too good to be true. No one can do all those things. No one can be that good. No one can love me that much. No one would ever choose me.
It is not too good to be true. In fact, it is greater than you could ever imagine, because Jesus’ death is not the end of the story. Another name for Jesus is Life. LIFE! Jesus defeated death, our ultimate enemy. He reigns forever, alive, calling to you, “You are loved. You are precious. You were made for more.”
C.S. Lewis, one of my personal heroes, said, “I have found a desire within myself that no experience in this world can satisfy; the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.” Jesus didn’t give it all for you to go through the motions, but to live an overcoming life overflowing with supernatural Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love. He gave it all for you to have it all. So what are you waiting for? LIVE!