Playdates with God: Sunrise Service

It rains on Easter morning and I rise early so I can attend the sunrise service in the park. I know I will miss worship at our church—staying home with a boy who is still recovering from surgery so my husband can lead worship. I can’t stand the thought of not being with other believers on this Resurrection Day, so even though there is rain, I head out with no makeup, no Easter dress or fancy hat…I don’t even brush my teeth.
The world smells like earthworms and I can see my breath trail out before me. But we sing He Livesand Christ the Lord is Risen Todayinto the damp heaven and I listen to the rain make music on the roof of the shelter.
And my heart is glad.
The preacher, he preaches about stones crying out—about stones rolled away. He preaches about stones as a witness to the whole messy, tragic, beautiful story.
But when we sing the chorus to Because He Lives, when we sing these words:
Because he lives
I can face tomorrow
Because he lives
All fear is gone
Because I know
He holds the future
And life is worth the
Living, just because
He lives
When we sing those words, I cry for a boy I used to know. A boy whose family I have loved, a boy I have counseled and held in prayer. A boy who took his life the day before.
I’m still here, breathing out and in but the chorus of that song bids me ask—am I living? How do I face my tomorrows—is fear really gone from my life? The Resurrection, the Life…the very stones cry out his glory. And too many days I let the Kingdom pass me by. Too many days I choose the shadow kingdom of this world instead of the one I know to be true.
But on a rain-soaked Easter morning the scales fall from my eyes and I see. I see, if only for a little while. I see and I believe with my whole self—my mind lowered into my heart.
He lives.

*Over at The High Calling today, we start a new book club discussion on Ann Kroeker‘s Not so Fast. It’s the perfect book to read after Easter–a book to help us maintain the slowing down and focus on God. Will you join us?

How do you embrace the God-joy? Every Monday I’ll be sharing one of my Playdates with God. I would love to hear about yours. It can be anything: outside, quiet time. Maybe it’s solitary. Maybe it’s loud and crowded. Just find Him. Be with Him. Grab my button at the bottom of the page and join us:

the Playdates button:

 and With Michelle today:


  1. says

    Because He Lives… I love that song. I sing it when I’m feeling sad and low. My Redeemer lives – I find comfort in that truth. Even if my circumstances try to steal away my joy sometimes…

  2. Lane Arnold says

    “Too many
    days I choose the shadow kingdom of this world instead of the one I know to be
    true.” Oh, isn’t that it? Isn’t that the tension we are trying to unravel?
    How do I stay with my heart/address/life in the Kingdom of our God, rather than
    the shadow kingdom? How do I keep my eyes riveted to Jesus’ eyes and not
    to the waves that surely shall sink me???

    Your words tug
    at my heart this morning…how do I live resurrection?

  3. Christina Alejandro says

    You write so beautifully. I felt so sad at the mention of the boy but I know that God’s tender mercies reach him. Because of Christ, we live in hope and great joy. I felt like I was with you in the park service! 🙂

  4. says

    I love that song — “Because He Lives.” I think about it every Easter even if we don’t sing it at the service.

    Praying for that family of the young man that you mentioned. It amazes me how life goes on while others are grieving. Life is so bizarre some days. Big Hugs to you, sweet lady who prays. Keep those prayers and words of counsel coming….

  5. says

    The mention of that young boy sinks like a stone in the midst of your story, but even those sinking stones, the ones that sit like weights, cry out and none is too heavy for him to bear. And maybe it’s in the sinking, like your head into your heart, that we cry out the loudest. Be blessed Laura, he lives!

  6. says

    yes, this is a great loss … and yet that in the midst of your grief you can say with confidence that Christ Lives is a huge testimony to His comforting presence in your life.

  7. says

    Thank you for this, Laura. It speaks to my tired soul this morning. (Yes, tired, even after a beautiful Easter–because “too many days I let the Kingdom pass me by… choose the shadow kingdom of this world instead of the one I know to be true.”) There’s so much to blind us to the glory of His risen life and its power in our lives. You’re helping make the scales fall from my eyes, too!

    Sylvia R @

  8. says

    I’ve only been to one Easter sunrise service, but it struck me as the perfect place to celebrate the Resurrection.

    I’m so sorry about the loss of someone you have loved.

    Hope the surgery recovery goes well.

  9. says

    The sadness and injustice of this life can be daunting to keep our eyes fixed on Him who triumphs over the grave, Laura. I’m feeling it today too. I’m praying for you and for those who loved the boy you referenced. I know God is here with us, with you, with those who weep. Thanks for helping me to focus on your words and His today. He does indeed live.

  10. says

    What a beautiful Easter celebration! I miss sunrise services. My favorite part of your post is “my mind lowered into my heart” because you gave me such a visual of how to live by faith and fact instead of feeling! Happy Easter and thanks for the challenge to live with focus – true focus! Hugs to you, Michelle

  11. says

    Every year my kids beg to go to the outdoor sunrise service, but I refuse because I can’t give up the music and the Halleluia chorus. I told this this year I’d go to the sunrise, but then we’d have to stay for the regular service, too. Of course, they were having none of that … TWO church services? The horrors! But I don’t know…I may have to reconsider their pleas next year after reading this beautiful reflection.

  12. Mia says

    Dear Laura
    I am so sorry to hear of that boy who took took his life! Such a tragedy. Oh the joy when our Lord touches our eyes in a special way for a little while and we experience the glory of our God in an I intimate, special way!
    Much love to you

  13. Katie says

    I just linked up with Michelle today too. Your’s is the first link I clicked on and imagine my surprise to find you wrote about the same song I did today! He Lives! and because He lives there is hope and joy and life!

  14. says

    we had rain here also, but about 30 did not allow that to stop the sunrise service that was at our chapel instead of the park. He lives and that is the important news. He lives within my heart! Only the truely born again person can understand that fact!

  15. amyscanderson says

    I just erased my comment, I think. Trying again:)
    That hymn is a favorite that makes me feel tucked in and safe when life here communicates otherwise. Sounds like a perfect reminder, not just for Easter, but for what you experienced this week. A hug for you, a whispered, “Yes, He lives and will redeem all this,” to you as well. Shared tears and prayers for the boy’s family.
    I read the Not So Fast book and really appreciated it at one point. A great selection!

  16. pastordt says

    Oh my goodness, Laura. Such sorrow on this day of jubilance. I am so sorry for this lost of life and pray peace for his family and for you. And good recovery for your boy and a blessed week, with some rest in it, for you!

  17. says

    Oh, my heart is aching with yours for the young man’s family, for the pain of death… but so thankful for the promise of that empty tomb. Happy Easter, dear friend. (and btw, I LOVE the Kroeker book you’re reading- my copy is dog eared and highlighted to death!

  18. says

    Our pastor talked about hope the last two weeks. Hope even in the midst of tragedy. You do hard and beautiful work, my friend.

    This song always does me in. I used to sing as part of a huge choir in our church in Georgia. It was family. We sang this on our last Sunday before we moved back to Michigan. I go straight to my seat in front of the congregation with tears flowing every single time I hear it or even see the words. Because He lives, we can face it all. Because we don’t face it alone. Love you.

  19. says

    We too attended our small town’s outdoor sunrise service. It was good to sing in the community in addition to Livestream from our home church (our temporary church while we wait on God). Though cold and gray (the rain came about an hour later) and preachers spoke without passion of this extraordinary God moment in time, it was good. We can worship in community in spite of all that and have our hearts renewed. And besides…we are celebrating the greatest moment in history…how can our hearts not sing?! Blessings to you my friend as you humbly walk this stony path in your journey.

  20. says

    I’m so sorry for the loss of your young friend. Our church just lost a beautiful young college student at her own hands, too. I don’t know the family personally, but that doesn’t impede prayer. Good for you for making the extra effort to worship in the rain with your kindred in Christ.

    May the Lord grant uncomplicated, rapid healing to your boy. Hope and peace to you in the risen Christ.

  21. soulstops says

    Oh, Laura, so sorry for the loss of the boy, and I pray your son heals quickly from his surgery…may God surprise you both in a fun way…and that of my favorites…yes, may God give us a felt heart experience of His alive/living Presence…funny, I have also been thinking of that as I prep to teach on Mary Magdalene…hugs to you, sweet friend.

  22. Linda Chontos says

    I am so far behind Laura. Our daughter is here, and we’ve talked enough to fill in the months she will be gone again. I’m so very sorry to hear about this boy. It is a hard, hard thing. And your boy – another surgery? Praying he will heal quickly. Sending you love dear heart.

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