That Post-Resurrection Life

Last week I posted alot about Holy Week, culminating in Resurrection Sunday. We make much of this day in Christianity as it’s the day Christ arose from the grave to pronounce victory for all over death and sin. We no longer have to worry about the bondage of sin, but instead we live lives of freedom found in Christ.

Easter is a celebratory time, and rightfully so.  We celebrate and live into that which we could not do, ever, knowing He is our Redeemer.

But here’s the thing, as I walked through this week and all the post-Holy Week living. I dug into Acts a bit, even as Christ ascended and the disciples are now left with much-including the Holy Spirit with them and in them.

I looked at Peter, Silas, and the others who were witness to Christ’s workings. As Pentecost came, so did God’s Presence in the Holy Spirit upon them. Not preaching the gospel, but speaking praises of His wondrous works. They weren’t witnessing to all those who had gathered around as the rushing wind drew them in, nope. They were giving praise, speaking it from words they had never spoken before thanks to the gifting of the Holy Spirit.

So that got me thinking, as I walked through this week post-Resurrection Sunday, when all the candy went on sale, the joyous nature of what’s coming had ebbed, and the very felt Presence may be waning for you. Maybe it doesn’t feel like much of a celebration now, in the week after. That praises continue to pour forth out of mouths which now face death, doubts, frustrations, worries and this post-Resurrection life in the day to day.

Do we grow used to the Resurrection the other 364 days a year?

That was the question posed on Sunday by David Hannah. One that has struck me over and over again this week, as I live out life in Christ and through Him. Am I living a “used to the Resurrection” life every other day but Easter Sunday? What does it even look like to live a Resurrected Life?

Well it means we aren’t beholden to the death that sin promises anymore. We aren’t buried under the weight of the world’s stresses, cries and defeats. We are alive in Him who defeated the grave and gave us life abundant. We aren’t bound to identities in anything but in Him.

But yet we choose the mourning cloths and embalmed rags of a life we once knew instead of the resurrected one in which we have with Christ, in His redemption. So maybe we need that reminder that praises come forth even when we may still be wondering, when we may still doubt and have fears…when Christ has told us explicitly of things to come and yet He also gave us life anew.

Even When

What if God doesn’t give you what you prayed in earnest for? What if the job, the spouse, the child, the clean bill of health doesn’t come?

My heart, my flesh, want to tell me that He isn’t good. That He is withholding goodness from me. That I have sin in my life, I have done wrong and I am not worthy of answered prayers. The lie of value and worthiness come sweeping in and give me doubts of who God is and the truth He speaks.

More and more I am finding that it’s not God I need to question, but my faith and belief in Him. My choice to believe Him or believe the doubts of His goodness, the lies that are at the door waiting for the tired, weary, lonely to set in or the affirming truth that even in the midst I will sing of His praise.

I think that’s why Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians pull me back, again and again. We have heard them before if we have been in a Christian community for any time. I have oft joked about something being a thorn in my side. But this plagued a man of God who journeyed through faith in so much that he brings it up in his letter to the Corinthians. He uses it not as a source of doubt and agitation with God, questioning His goodness, but rejoicing in God’s power and reliance.

Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

It’s not for us to dwell in our hardship (easier said than done, right?) or question a good Father because He gives out grace sufficient for us in it. He pours His power through us so that we are strong in our very own weakness.

Y’all for so many years this passage was flowery to me but more and more I find in the difficulties and hardships I would run to doubt and fear rather than delight. Now I see the immeasurable power and joy in these verses that Paul was trying to convey to Corinthians and to us. There is joy in the hard of life, there is praise worth giving because of Him-not because of us. Even when it hurts. Even when we don’t understand. Even when kids get sick and there’s no answer.

Even then I will praise Him for I get to see His power and love, grace and mercy at work where only a struggling, failing, weak flesh was before. Even when it doesn’t come as I had expected He is still good.


 

This song from Hillsong United, Even When It Hurts, has been the inspiration for further digging on God’s goodness in the face of unanswered prayer and hard times. I hope you take time to listen today and the days ahead in whatever you face.

Giving Thanks A Try

This week, and perhaps even this month, often instill in us Americans the need and notion of giving thanks. You become a bit more patient or see the goodness that surrounds you. at least I hope you do…

I believe there’s a stigma that is slowly starting to creep in though that this is the only time we can be thankful, or gracious. Whether that be through giving of time, of encouragement, or of money. I am not sure about you but it started to eat away at me a bit, to become a bit jaded to giving thanks.

Because I was seeing the ugliness of this time of year, and that it never really flowed into the remainder of the season, let alone the year. It became such a snowball effect, and I think that happens to alot of us. We want to be gracious and thankful, but we just don’t feel it.

Oh sure, I am thankful in the mornings for a new day, full of new mercies. But by the end of the day? I am grumpy and full of sass. I can point to all the ways someone else wasn’t gracious or kind which led me to my ‘tude. Then it hit me. I can only control me (and let’s be honest, that’s a full-time job for God too).

I simply have no management of others, how they respond, how they act or how they think. My choice, and it is mine, is to simply respond in grace and love. Remembering that those new mercies don’t just pour out in the morning, but all. day. long.

Yep, that’s right…all day.

You know what that means? That I get to give Him the thanks all day long too for them. For Who He is, His sovereignty, and His work. Not mine. Because as I desire the mind of Christ in me, that means I desire the attitude of Christ. When you look back through Scripture, you see He was giving thanks even when no one got it. When He was judged, beaten and betrayed? He still carried out His calling.

This time of year instills such an air of thanksgiving, but I believe it’s a reminder to us to continue that thanks continually as my friend Hanna points out in her post. I think it also means having the mind of Christ in it, which means cheerfulness in giving. Whether that is money, time, thanks or praise. We get to give thanks y’all. That’s pretty stellar to think about.

I keep coming back to this passage in Psalms right now, as it reminds me that no matter the hour of the day, it is good to give Him thanks, to praise Him. He never stops working out good in our lives if we are faithful in obedience. So why not be obedient in giving thanks?

It is good to give thanks to the Lord, and to sing praises to Your Name, O Most High;

To declare Your lovingkindness in the morning, and Your faithfulness every night,

On an instrument of ten strings, on the lute, and on the harp, with harmonious sound.

For You, Lord, have made me glad through Your work; I will triumph in the works of Your hands.

Psalm 92:1-4 (NKJV)

 

With Open Hands

I felt ridiculous. Sitting hands upturned, arms stretched out, as I sat in the quiet of my own home. The whispers of, “You don’t have time for this. You are already running late. Seriously, if anyone saw you they’d think you were looney.”

And yet I sat. In the stillness, just as I do now with only the hum from the kitchen, and my thoughts.

I bowed with open hands, turned up to God. A reverent heart asking, pleading, begging. A heart realizing that these hands hadn’t been open before. In fact they had been clenched in anger, gripping tightly the regrets and wishes, the plans and heartaches. They were balled tight to hold in the dreams and keep out the ones wishing to snatch them from my grasp.

Photo provided by colourbox.com
Photo provided by colourbox.com

I had grown used to the ache of the clinched fist, of grasping too tightly at my life…a life that was not mine solely. In the very still quiet moment, when I turned my hands up and stretched my fingers outward I felt it all release.

The bad I wanted to let go of and the good I was scared to let loose. Realizing that the harder I grasp at it all, the quicker it slips through my fingers much like sand. All I was left with were grains of memories, remnants of hopes and fears.

I had been living too much in my past and keeping tight too much of my future to live in any sort of present. While looking ridiculous, I felt God meet me in that moment. A sigh from Him washing over me, and the gentle whisper, “I had been waiting for this, for you in this place.”

So had I. For this very moment of open hands and an open heart. It astounds me how much I want to share this moment and yet, keep it private. I realize that we often have to be told it’s okay to be open with God. To be vulnerable and get to a place of open hands. To find our moment of letting go and holding on. To release all of it and find ourselves at a moment of peace.

Peace in letting go of the ugly and the beauty. Finding that God was there, waiting in that moment for you can be a scary and exhilarating emotion. Yet I find I cannot dwell in it, I cannot attach to it once more and revisit it…because that would mean hands closed around it. Instead it’s a life of open hands…a life with open hands, turned up in praise, in gratitude, in release.