Forrest Gump was a philosopher of sorts. The quote above is from the movie, Forrest Gump. Forrest’s home spun wisdom made us laugh, cry, and nod our heads. The full quote is, “My momma always said, ‘Life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.’” On this Holy Week, as we head to Easter Sunday, we feel that quote, don’t we? As Christians we bear the full weight of Jesus’ last days on earth. He deserves our attention as we focus on the cross – and beyond to the tomb – and to the resurrection.
Easter is more than candy and dress clothes and a special family meal. Without Easter, there would be no Christian faith! Without Easter, Jesus would have been just another man with big ambitions and nothing to back up his promises. With Easter, Jesus is the King of Kings! Jesus, the Lamb of God, who died for you and for me was not defeated by death. The grave could not hold him. Sin reigns no more. Jesus fulfilled all the Old Testament prophecies concerning the promised Messiah. Easter is the proof!
Now back to that box of chocolates. Some candy boxes mark what’s in each candy, so there is no guessing. If you like nut mallow, you take that one. If you enjoy orange cream, you select that one. Simple and easy. But life isn’t always that well defined. Some candy boxes are more like life in that respect – you never know what you are getting. Sometimes, it’s your favorite. Other times, it is something you may want to spit out. Life, like those unmarked boxes of candy, is sometimes a pleasant experience and at other times, a bitter disappointment. I’m certain Jesus felt like that during that first Holy Week. His disciples didn’t understand what was really going on. (Disappointment). At other times, they obeyed his orders and seemed to understand their mission. When we read the Scriptures concerning the last days of Jesus’ life, we find the swing of emotions – positive and negative. That’s why Jesus went to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray. He had a difficult choice to make. He needed God’s guidance. In that garden, Jesus prayed – first for himself and to clarify his mission, then for his disciples whom he dearly loved and who were with him in the good times and bad, and finally for us – every believer from that moment on. This was Jesus process of prayer. He knew what to expect and yet he needed to make certain he was making Godly choices. Prayer clearly marked his way forward. Prayer was Jesus’ marked box of chocolates – he knew what he was getting into!
So what about your life today? Does prayer clearly mark your way? Do you have a process of prayer? Do you pray? What is your favorite piece of chocolate? What don’t you like? What do you do with the candy when you bite into it and it isn’t what you wanted? Do you spit it out – or do you swallow it and get another piece? Jesus had to swallow his bitter reality that his life would end on a cross. He didn’t spit it out, instead he moved to the next prayer and then the next. How do you choose your candy? What process do you use? If we choose an unmarked box of candy, we won’t know what we are getting. Prayer can help you choose God’s way of doing things. Let’s make this Easter a day to remember to PRAY. Pray for yourself, your close friends and family, and for the world. That’s the process Jesus used. Have a blessed Easter.
(And if you have time, view Forrest Gump!)
Rev. Bev Hall, pastor of Pleasant Hills United Methodist Church, Middleburg Heights, OH