I had a great honor early Sunday morning to bring a message of victory to those who gathered for the 83rd annual Sunrise Service at Bald Knob Cross of Peace in Southern Illinois. Before I began to speak, I announced to the crowd that it was the thrill of my life to have the opportunity to share with them what God had laid on my heart. I’m not sure I’ve ever spoken truer words.

There was so much about the event that was exciting for me. Friends and family were in attendance, the weather was beautiful, hundreds had come together to worship, and if that wasn’t enough it was also my birthday. God’s kindness was abundant and I was doing my best to soak up every minute.

And even though all of that was wonderful, what meant the most to me was proclaiming what Jesus has done in my life. He has brought me to a place where I could confidently deliver a message of personal victory in that kind of situation. I am pretty open about my insecurities. The presence of Jesus makes me strong and confident, but without it, I am small, scared, and weak. I worry too much about what other people think and I fall into traps of perfectionism. I’m so much better with these shortcomings than I used to be, but at times it’s still a struggle. And I have to keep my eyes on Him. All. The. Time. Or I am sunk.

The message I offered on Easter morning was about victory. Claiming personal victory in the power of Jesus Christ. And I can only proclaim it because I know it. I know what it’s like to live without claiming it and I know what it’s like to walk with my head held higher because I do claim it now. The enemy is relentless. He reminds me all the time about my faults and failures. And I’ve given him plenty of material to work with. But my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is TIRELESS. And He is stronger and smarter than the persistent enemy. He fights for me every single time I call on His resurrection power that lives in me.

So when I think about the Easter sunrise service, I think of the darkness turning into daylight. I think of the people sitting on the grass in lawn chairs with blankets on their laps and hoods pulled up over their heads. I think of the beautiful music and the words of encouragement spoken to me after I preached. But above all of that… covering all of that… I think of the One who infused this child with His power and spoke words into my heart that carry me through each day. Every trial, every frustration, every opportunity, every success, and every stumble, Jesus says to me, Whatever happens out there, I just love you. And because of that powerful promise, I am victorious.