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They were saying to one another, "Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?" (Mark 14:3)
Forty-three years ago today, I was trapped in a tomb of sin, guilt, and shame. But then Easter Sunday happened, and my world turned upside down. I had been attending a Bible-believing church at the time (Grace Bible Church, San Luis Obispo, CA).
I was there because a girl I liked convinced me to go. And of course, I agreed because I had this great plan. I would win her over by playing the "going to church" card (in the end, only Jesus won, thank you, Lord). Each Sunday, to my surprise, I kept hearing things from the sermons that made me think, "Wow, I never knew THAT was in the Bible!"
And then after a few more sermons, I began to think, "Whoa, this is pretty cool stuff." Of course, I would bring these revelations up to my friend, confident that this would really impress her with my Bible knowledge. But even though that wasn't working, something strange was happening inside me, and I wasn't sure I liked it.
I was troubled by what I couldn't make sense of. All this truth, but it was all pockets of truth that I couldn't seem to put together.
Then a crushing blow. My friend was graduating and moving away. Now, what do I do? No more reason to go to church. But I couldn't shake the thought that there might be something to this church thing. And so I decided to try church - alone!
So, on Easter Sunday, 1977, the college group was putting on a presentation called "The Witness," which covered the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Still uncomfortable about being in Onchurch alone, I sat in the last row, way off in the corner, where it was dark.
Now that I look back on it, this was a pretty good representation of where my heart was. I was in darkness. And I chose to be there. Little did I realize, something life-changing was about to happen.
I was captivated by watching the gospel message presented in real life by real people. There was something about this that made me forget where I was. It was like being transported right into the Gospel narrative.
I watched Jesus being falsely condemned to death. I watched Him as He was cruelly ridiculed, beaten, and rejected by those He came to save. I watched with unexpected tears as He bore His cross all the way up to Golgotha.
Images from the mini-series "Jesus of Nazareth" (my friend had made me watch it) merged with what the college group was presenting. What I had thought of as just a story, well, it came to life!
And all those pockets of Truth that I'd been accumulating in my mind for all those months, in the twinkling of an eye, it all came together at once, and I understood. I really understood!
I had been trapped in a tomb of my own making, a tomb with no way out. Trapped! In my utter hopelessness, I cried, "who will roll away the stone for me from the entrance of the tomb?"
And now, finally, I knew. Jesus! Jesus only! In a Lazarus type moment, I heard the Lord call out my name, "Rick, come to Me." And I came forth, out of the domain of darkness, and into His marvelous light.
Perhaps you have been trapped in a life of sin, guilt, regret, and hopelessness. Maybe it feels to you like you've been living in a tomb for so many years, and you feel trapped in a life you hate, with no way out.
Are you in a place of hopelessness and despair, and you feel like crying out, "who will roll away the stone for ME from the entrance of the tomb?" If that is where you find yourself today, there's no need to give up. You might be right where God wants you to be.
Because until you reach that point where you know that you are lost and that there's no hope for you in this world, or yourself, then perhaps you will reach out to the only One who CAN save you, the only One who can roll away the stone from the entrance to YOUR tomb.
Rick: United States
"Thank you for reading my story. I know it's a story that has been told by a countless number of those who have been saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. It's my hope and prayer that many in this world today will share in the Easter miracle, the miracle of your OWN changed life. Rick Wooten"
"Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life." (Rom 6:3-4)