It was Easter Eve, and I was a senior in high school. My friend Curtis and I took my 1970 Dodge Coronet to Skyline Drive at Guernsey Lake. Skyline Drive is a meandering forested road that leads to the highest points above the lake.
A larger group of friends would come up Easter Morning for a Sunrise Service but we planned on staying the night at a place that was often referred to as "the castle". This all-stone structure was open air and included a fireplace (which we used constantly) and a staircase to an upper level that allowed a fantastic view of the lake far below. I also discovered that this was a wonderful place to watch stars, away from the glare of city lights. They were brilliant.
The setting reminded me of what it might have been like the night of Peter's betrayal when he came to the courtyard to be close to Jesus, yet in the process of getting close, found that he wanted to be further away. He denied Jesus repeatedly. And then the rooster crowed.
I lay in my sleeping bag watching the stars and they remind me of the many sins in my own life - too many to count. I was reminded of the darkness of crucifixion day. I discovered grief at my own inability to do the right thing - even when I wanted to. Neither Curtis nor I were able to sleep that chilly spring night and as we watched the morning sky lighten, cars began to arrive at "the castle". We all marveled at the sunrise that greeted us - the dawning of the day we remember the day Jesus came back to life.
However, the view of the sun was short-lived. Gray clouds began a meeting of their own and soon the sun was held at bay. We drank hot cocoa and ate donuts as our pastor recounted the love of a mighty God in sending His only Son to pay our penalty for sin. The settling gloom was a reminder of how disheartened His disciples must have felt before "the good news".
After the time of devotion we were invited to take our Bibles and venture out for a time of personal prayer.
I walked several hundred yards to the west and found a little canyon that led to a point closer to the lake. I sat and watched the water surging and splashing 20-30 feet below me. This was a time of personal reflection and I was oblivious to everything around me. Then I noticed something surprising. A single snowflake landed on the cover of my Bible. "Such a beautiful design," I remember thinking. Then I recalled something that I had always heard - each snowflake is unique and different from every other snowflake - just like me and my friends, we were all unique, but each of us were created in God's image. It wasn't long before the snowflake had his some of his friends over for a visit.
The snowflakes were disappearing in the water as they landed. I was so caught up in the beauty of it all that I wasn't noticing how fast the snow was accumulating around me.
"Come on, Glenn, we gotta get out of here," a familiar voice called down to me.
The moment of reflection was nearly past. I looked around for just a moment longer and finally noticed the blanket of white that now covered all the browns and grays of early spring and I was reminded that Jesus' death on the cross covered all the blackness of my sin making my life "white as snow".
Five other guys got into my car as we headed back down the hill. The snow had come in so fast that I had to be pushed out of the snow three times just getting down from "the castle".
We were listening to the radio as Scott, Rick, David, Curtis, a second David and myself talked about mostly forgettable things.
It was in that moment that my car decided that it was time to slide across the road and into the pit on the other side. We slid between two reflector poles and down an embankment as my car tipped precariously on the passenger side. Two of the guys in the backseat had their feet on the back of the front seat and not many of us were wearing seatbelts. For reasons unknown to me the backdoor flew open as we were tipping. Rick grabbed the door handle and shut it again. The car immediately returned to all four wheels without further damage (or injury).
It was after this incident that I decided I didn't much care for my car and sold it for $400 to some missions workers headed to Montana, but I'll always remember that the Savior of Easter continues to look after us. He also looks for ways to teach us more about the character of His grace and love.
The power to pay for our sins rests squarely on the shoulders of the One who introduced us to the redemption story of Easter. He is ready, willing and able to forgive our sins and make our hearts white as snow.
If you died today, are you absolutely certain that you would go to heaven? You can be! TRUST JESUS NOW
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