Patches is quite a special horse, the best friend of my little guy.
A much cleaner, fluffier version of this guy came into his life when he was two. My mom took my daughter to buy my son something special the day he broke his leg, and with a musical Lightning McQueen card that sang, "Life is a Highway," this little horse found a new home.
Since then, my son has imagined an entire back story for Patches. He is a president, naturally, of an island called Patchifornia. He has three brothers (other stuffed guys), who all hold offices on this island. They are inseparable, meaning all have to accompany my son on trips and adventures. Patches has his own song, his own "voice," he has a unique and sassy personality, and he is always getting into trouble.
My son and I joke around about Patches all the time. It's something we often do at bedtime, and I can get him laughing by imagining all sorts of funny conversations among the three of us. A couple days ago, we were in one of these typical silly conversations revolving around Patches. I don't remember why, but at one point, I suggested that perhaps the scruffy horse was not yet a Christian. Well, that got my son right up into the business of securing the poor horse's eternal position. And with a grin and a funny voice, he pressed two hooves together and pretended Patches was praying, asking Jesus to come into his little horsey heart.
We continued to giggle at the thought of a stuffed horse praying to receive Christ, until it was suddenly very quiet. I watched my son raise Patches to his eye level and stare at the dingy cotton face for a few moments. Then gravely, he cried, "MOM! I think he is really smiling."
And he believed it.
As I sit here typing, I'm astonished to realize my son was looking for a change, knowing the magnitude of this prayer, no matter who says it. And with the eyes of his seven year old heart, he saw that horse become real.
I felt a pang in my own heart, the Holy Spirit whispering that it's true: the moment we surrender our lives to Jesus is indeed the moment we become real.
But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.
This weekend we celebrate the One who gives us life, who makes us real. Jesus was the only man to walk the face of this earth fully real, fully able to be His truest self from day one.
I love how the Jesus Storybook Bible puts it:
For anyone who says yes to Jesus
For anyone who believes what Jesus said
For anyone who will just reach out to take it
Then God will give them this wonderful gift:
To be born into
A whole new Life
To be who they really are
Who God always made them to be
Their own true selves
Before I asked Jesus to come into my life, before I stepped down from the throne, let's face it. I was only stuff and fluff putting on a good show. Dead, dingy, pretending. So much pretending.
This Easter, if you haven't ever trusted Jesus with your whole life, I encourage you to ask Him to show you who He is. In the Bible, God promises that any who seek Him with his or her whole heart will surely find Him. He will make Himself known. It is not a maybe, which is why when someone tells me, "Oh, I just don't know...I've been searching for God for years, and I'm just not sure..." I know that he or she has never sought God sincerely.
You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.
If you've at all been wrestling with who you are, or who you were made to be, I will tell you that the answer starts with Jesus. His definition is what you've been longing for, to become your truest self. We live constantly itchy in our skin, pretending and managing our way through, until we allow Him to make us real.
All pretending stops with Jesus because He takes away all the garbage we otherwise have to manage, all the shame, all the deep down ugliness in ourselves we come face to face with daily. Pretending is just the way we manage our sin and shame. His blood shed on the cross destroyed the power of that garbage. It wiped our slates clean. Accepting Jesus means you have no sin or shame left to manage. He managed it, to the death. Forever.
That's what makes you your truest self; that's what turns you real. Freedom.
Jesus did His part. All you have to do is accept it. That's it.
If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
It's so simple even a stuffed horse can do it. Okay, you know I'm kidding, right? Don't send me emails. I know Patches does not really have an eternal soul. But we do. And pretending is so exhausting.
Thank you Lord for giving us a chance to trade our stuff and fluff for a real heart that belongs to You.