See Luminosity

How the Easter Bunny Pointed Me to Jesus

How the Easter Bunny Pointed Me to Jesus

Yes, I know Easter is most certainly not about the Easter Bunny.

I don’t want anything to take the place of Jesus, and what He did on the cross at Easter, and normally the Easter Bunny does just that.

But there is an exception.

Our Easter Bunny – My Mimi.

Margaret Sims, or Molly, as her close friends called her, was my father’s mother, and she was the very best of her heavenly Father. With a heart of love for others and a zest for life, Mimi brought joy and light to everyone around her. And it is so fitting, so very perfect, that the Lord would take her, this year, to His joy and light and life in heaven at…

Easter.

Easter was her time.

Our Easter Bunny

Mimi came to visit every year at Easter, and, when she did, she brought with her a breath of beauty and warmth and life that became, for us, the epitome of what the holiday is about. Calling herself the “Easter Bunny”, she would come armed with baskets full of special surprises – specially-picked candies that each of us liked, personally-chosen toys, spring outfits, and all variety of gifts that made us smile.

Her gifts were not the same, either. She took the time and effort to tailor each specific item (even the food treats) to each person receiving it. And she almost always had a story to tell about how and why and where she got each item, and why she picked it for each particular recipient. As we got older, even as adults, she continued to be the Easter Bunny and provide special surprises, including special lotions and bath products, nuts, and chocolate. Even better – as adults the toys got replaced with yellow sticky notes, under which was always a check for money!

Every year, no matter what age we were, there were rules to the Easter Bunny. And you had to abide by her rules if you wanted to get the surprise. The first rule was that when someone else was opening their surprise, you had to give them your full focus and be happy for them. The second rule is that when the Easter Bunny was presenting the gifts, you had to give her your undivided attention – no talking or playing around or getting distracted by other things, and you had to listen in rapt attention to everything she said. But the most important rule was that you were not allowed to look at or open the surprises before she gave them to you.

I know that in most cases the Easter Bunny takes the place of Christ at Easter. But these rules, and this Easter Bunny, did just the opposite. They pointed us to what Easter was all about. Mimi lived these rules in her own life, and her role as the Easter Bunny forever displayed to us, in a tangible way, what God tries to get across through his message of Easter.

So here you go. How the Easter Bunny has pointed me to Jesus.

The Easter Bunny Rules

Easter Bunny rule #1: When someone else opens their surprise, you must focus on them and give them your full attention.

Mimi gave everyone in front of her her full attention. She wanted nothing more than to hear whatever story you were telling, and to understand the details of what mattered to those around her. She never envied others – even others who had so much more, materially, than she had – but gave what she had, consistently, to bless everyone else. She celebrated every milestone in the lives of those around her, and she felt the joy of others’ joy and the pain of others’ pain as if they were her own. She lived an others-focused life, because she had already opened the surprise – the surprise of God’s life and love – and wanted to give it to others.

When Jesus was on the cross (Luke 23) and a criminal hanging next to him recognized the gift of who Jesus was, Christ told him, “Today you will be with me in paradise.” The God-man who had poured out His life for others gave His final focus – His dying attention – to a sinner that was opening the surprise. And, through His death, He actually gave the surprise. Easter’s message is about the best surprise ever. And about the God who was so very focused on us, so completely giving of self, that He died to make sure we could open it.

Easter Bunny Rule #2: You must give undivided attention to the gift giver, in order to get the gift.

The central focus of Mimi’s life was Jesus. She spent time in prayer and reading scripture every day, and sought to make God’s heart her own. No matter what trials she faced – and she faced many in her life – she did it with her eyes on the Gift-giver. Injustice, disappointment, betrayal, disrespect, and even death did not pry her attention from her God, or from His purpose and love. As a result, she radiated joy. Love and life came forth from her like one of the perfumes she used to buy us at Easter. She was the youngest 90 years old I’ve ever met, because her spirit was refreshed and renewed by her focus on the Father. Whereas many who have suffered much less have become shriveled and bitter, Mimi’s unwavering gaze at the Lord gave her the gift of joy – a joy she bestowed on everyone who knew her.

In Matthew 26:42 Jesus prays in the Garden of Gethsemane, before the cross, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.” He gave His full attention, and obedience, to the Father’s purpose, even in the face of terrible suffering. Hebrews 12:1-2 says, “And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Yes, Easter shows us that if we want to get the surprise, we must fix our complete attention on the Gift Giver.

Easter Bunny Rule #3: You can’t open the surprise before it is given to you, and you have to abide by all of the rules in order to get it.

Mimi loved her Lord and she trusted Him, even when her life was hard. And a lot of her life was very hard.

She grew up during the Great Depression, and her alcoholic mother left her family when she was around 11 years old. Mimi raised her younger sister until the time she got married to my grandfather. She endured unfaithfulness and tremendous turmoil in that marriage, and heartache from close family members. She gave her life to raise children and grandchildren of her second husband, and watched many of those closest to her reject the Lord she loved. Yet she poured herself out for others. She loved with no conditions, and she put others before herself with no bitterness. This is the woman who, for years after her divorce and remarriage to a wonderful man, bought, for my grandfather (her first husband), Christmas gifts for him to give to myself and my siblings, because he was unable to purchase them himself. She and her husband even brought my grandfather in her own car to visit us when he was too weak to drive himself. She forgave, she loved, she honored – even when it made no sense to do so.

She lived God’s rules. She loved instead of hated. She forgave instead of holding a grudge. She had faith instead of trying to control life. She trusted and obeyed Him instead of doing what felt right to her. She lived for others instead of living for herself. And she didn’t try to find the surprise on her own, or open it in her own way, by following whatever earthly fulfillment came before her. She trusted the Lord to bring the gift to her. And He did. I’ve never met someone so fully able to love, so completely able to give, so fully able to be joyful regardless of the circumstances.

Really, God’s rules are few. Jesus boiled it down to this: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” (Luke 10:27). To clarify what “Love the Lord your God” meant, Romans 8:10-13 expounds: 10 “But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness…Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.”

Love and righteousness. That is the message of the cross – the message of Easter.

Easter Without the Easter Bunny

This will be my first Easter without the Easter Bunny. My Mimi, my beautiful, radiant, life-filled grandmother, is no longer on this earth. She is my last biological grandparent, and it is hard for me to really grasp what life will be like without her here. Easter, for sure, will never be the same.

But she has left me with her Easter Bunny rules, and I plan to abide by them. She knew the true Gift-Giver. She abided by His rules, and she kept her attention focused on Him, and on others. By doing so, she, as my Easter Bunny, pointed me to Jesus. She gave me the example to follow for how to get the gift that really matters… the gift of true life with our Lord. She showed me what the love that Jesus gave at Easter looks like here on earth. She showed me how the righteousness for which Christ died should be exemplified in those of us who love Him in the fallen nature of this world.

Easter was Mimi’s time. And, of course, it was God’s time. The time, for both of them, when love spurred on giving, out of righteousness. The time when death leads to eternal life.

It’s no surprise to me that the Lord called her home at Easter.

Because, today, and forever, she gets to open the biggest surprise of all. And she gets to keep on opening it up for all of eternity.

Even the Easter Bunny couldn’t bring a better gift than that.

_______________________________________________________________

1 Corinthians 9:23-25 “24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. 25 Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.”

One Response to “How the Easter Bunny Pointed Me to Jesus”

  1. Dad says:

    What a sweet and insightful recollection of my mother. I am so glad you got to know her and be around long enough to get a taste of what she was like. I’m sorry you didn’t know her when she was young… when she was driving that old jeep around everywhere… She was something else. Cassie, you write beautifully, and your words are filled with really good theology. It makes me very proud…. Dad

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *