Deaths and Resurrections

The narratives of life are many and messy most of the time and they follow certain story lines. Two of the most dominant parts of any narrative are the deaths that take place and then the resurrections that happen thereafter. This is what we pay for when we go see movies, these plot lines that ultimately take us to the point of death or near death, and then we get to see the story turn and a type of resurrection happens. Deaths and resurrections.

From a Christian worldview (at least ‘Christian’ in the sense of those who actually follow Jesus) we know that this theme is birthed from within us, that is, we all have this longing to be resurrected from a death, a loss, from pain. And within this same worldview we know that this longing is actualized in what Christ Jesus did for all of us, when we were still his enemies. Jesus’ death and resurrection secure reconciliation for those who trust in Christ, but it also gives purpose and meaning to various forms a sufferings, deaths, as the ultimate purpose in life isn’t to dodge pain, but to be resurrected and reconciled to the truest source of life out of our pain, the life of life, Jesus.

But on this side of redemption, it seems that there too few resurrections and too many deaths. Yes, I can hear the cliche Christianese response say, “But death where is your victory, death where is your sting!” And to that I’d say, that phrase isn’t completely true until the final days when Christ returns and the final resurrection of the dead takes place. This Christianese response has pervaded Christian religious mumbo jumbo so much that we live in a culture that has numbed ourselves from truly dying (or feeling the sting of death, or at least giving acknowledgement to it) that our resurrections are weak and fabrcarted with emotions and words, false lights, void of power and transformation that comes from the life of life.

Today, I feel death all around me and I’m grateful for friends who know how to face the reality of death and grieve properly so when the resurrection actually comes, it’s real and tangible, and Jesus’ life and presence are more beautiful than they were before. Life sucks at times and brings you to the point of death, indeed it will even kill us in more ways that just physical death. But when the life of life shows up, the life that didn’t just shine light into our darkness, but the life that shined light out from the darkness our darkness. It’s then that we realized that Jesus sits with us in our pain and loss and deaths, and offers a life that life is really all about.

The life of life, shining the light of all lights out of dark backgrounds so that we can actually see him, because when fabricated lights are always around us, we lose the dark backdrop that allows us to see Jesus on this side of redemtpion. Deaths are many today, and resurrections are few and far between, but I live in the hope of the true resurrection that it will not always be that way. That good will win, evil will be destroyed forever, Satan and all those who prey on the weak will reap their pay in full, and that all that has been lost will be recovered through the resurrection. This narrative I so utterly believe in and long for when it’s complete.

Nothing…

Nothing to hide. Nothing to fear. Nothing to prove. Nothing to lose.

I had lunch this afternoon with a business-man friend of mine who left a lucrative job over six years ago to serve men and women in the marketplace. He’s one of those people you meet with, and you know you’re going to leave the meeting stirred up and challenged. So, as a glutton for punishment, I knew I needed to have lunch with him.

As our time together unfolded over a lunchtime eggs Benedict at the Breakfast Club (downtown at City Scape; great food!), it was clear that my friend was not fooled by my attempt to explain why I am justified in being mad at how God has been ordering life. He’s no stranger to suffering and change.

He very graciously and lovingly leaned over the table, looked me straight in the eyes and said, “Jeff, do you really want to be in a place where Jesus is following you, or you are following Jesus.” I paused, and gave him that look that said, “I’m supposed to say ‘No’ as a Christian, but right now it would feel pretty good for Jesus to follow my plan.” He went on to say, “Jeff, listen to me, there’s no better place to be in life than to be in a situation where if God doesn’t show up, you’re done.”

I have to admit, I hate hearing that, partly because I know it’s true, but also because I hate the unknown, not having clarity, or control. To be in that place, is to be okay with mystery and okay with not having control. My friend closed our time together by saying, “When you can sit with Jesus in the unknown without knowing details or having clarity about what’s next, then you are on your way of having nothing to hide, nothing to fear, nothing to prove, and nothing to lose”; and I would add, nothing to manage.

I am learning to release my weaknesses, inabilities, fears, and identity in this season of life, and it seems to create more anxiety at times… but in a weird way today, I feel relieved again that God is managing my life, and I really do not have control. I feel relieved that there’s much unknown in my (and my family’s) near future. I feel humbled that Jesus is meeting with me in a fresh new way, on His terms, not mine.