I read the accounts of the resurrection from Luke and John. From the empty tomb and sadness to the joy of seeing Him face to face, alive, I try to imagine the joy and elation of those who loved Jesus and that had witnessed his death, as they saw him after his death and conversed with his resurrected body. Can you imagine it? The night of weeping and sorrow turned to joy?
Watching their beloved crucified, it began with bitter sorrow — but with the beloved resurrected, it ends with tears of brimming joy and with reconciliation, death conquered, and hope restored.
For they, and we, have a God who is alive.
I am currently reading a book by Francis Chan called Crazy Love. In Chapter 6, Chan quotes the following from John Piper’s book, God is the Gospel:
The critical question for our generation – and for every generation – is this: If you could have heaven, with no sickness, and with all the friends you ever had on earth, and all the food you ever liked, and all the leisure activities you ever enjoyed, and all the natural beauties you ever saw, all the physical pleasures you ever tasted, and no human conflict or any natural disasters, could you be satisfied with heaven, if Christ was not there?
Then Chan writes:
How many of you will read those words and say, “You know, I just might be okay with that”? If you are as deeply in love with God as Grandma Clara was, you know you could never be satisfied in a heaven without Christ.
I do remember in my walk with Christ in the not too distant past, realizing I was longing for this kind of love for Jesus, this nearness with my Savior, and knowing I didn’t have it. I wanted to “long” to be with my Savior… where was that longing, why didn’t I have it?
I remember wanting it… and then asking God for it.
And He answered me.
I needed His help.
The Psalms were one of the ways God showed me, taught me, drew me in closer, they were His words I felt He was speaking to me, and words I could speak aloud to Him. Can you remember a time when you felt scripture was speaking directly to you?
Have you longed for this kind of nearness, like I did? If that nearness is lacking and you long for it, ask God, and He will answer you. Ask Him to bring you to this place:
1 O God, you are my God,
earnestly I seek you;
my soul thirsts for you,
my body longs for you,
in a dry and weary land
where there is no water.
2 I have seen you in the sanctuary
and beheld your power and your glory.
3 Because your love is better than life,
my lips will glorify you.
4 I will praise you as long as I live,
and in your name I will lift up my hands.
5 My soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods;
with singing lips my mouth will praise you.
6 On my bed I remember you;
I think of you through the watches of the night.
7 Because you are my help,
I sing in the shadow of your wings.
8 My soul clings to you;
your right hand upholds me.
Psalm 63: 1–8
Do you know, I had somewhat “memorized” verse 1 above, about 20 years ago– meaning, I had forgotten the exact place, but I had remembered the words… and it took 20 years of churning and time and life for me to get to the point where I’ve felt that kind of longing? for Jesus, my Savior? A soul parched and thirsty, knowing that He was the water I needed and longed for?
Are you facing a death of ashes? God can restore the nothingness of ashes into beauty.
To console those who mourn in Zion,
To give them beauty for ashes,
The oil of joy for mourning,
The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness;
That they may be called trees of righteousness,
The planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified. Isaiah 61:3
Are you are in a pit of sin, unbelief, sorrow, distance? God can lift any of us out of that hole.
He also brought me up out of a horrible pit,
Out of the miry clay,
And set my feet upon a rock,
And established my steps. Psalm 40:2
I try to imagine their joy, the ones who walked and talked with Jesus after His resurrection, and I know that the joy of seeing Him face to face, to be in His presence, will far surpass all joys experienced here on earth. Until then, there is a great joy here as well, of being alive out of sin and living life fully, abundantly (He didn’t come just to save us from the agony of hell– he came so that we have LIFE, abundant life. John 10:10). This type of life, this joy of resurrection from the chains of sin and of ourselves, is something we can experience now, it is available even now.
In desperate need of a Savior, it was me, it is me, and it is all of us… He is alive, there is hope, of all our ashes of our human failures and lost-ness being transformed and turned into something living and bearing fruit.
He is risen! He is risen indeed!
Here are some words I came across not too long ago, that have encouraged me:
You Will Rise Up in the End
“Every stone that makes you stumble
and cuts you when you fall
Every serpent here that strikes your heel
to curse you when you crawl
The king of love one day will crush them all
And every sad seduction and every clever lie
Every word that woos and wounds the pilgrim children of the sky
The king of love will break them by and by
And you will rise up in the end
You will rise up in the end
I know the night is cruel
but the day is coming soon
And you will rise up in the end
If the thief had to come to plunder when the children were alone
If he ravaged every daughter and murdered every son
Would not their father see this? Would not his anger burn?
And would he not repay the tyrant in the day of his return?
Oh, wait. Oh, wait the day of his return
Cause he will rise up in the end
He will rise up in the end
I know you need a Savior
He is patient in his anger
And he will rise up in the end
And when the stars come crashing to the sea
and the high and mighty fall down on their knees
When you see the Son descending in the sky
the chains of death will fall around your feet
You will rise up in the end
you will rise up in the end”
—Ben Shive, “Rise Up”, The Ill-Tempered Klavier album
Sharing with Emily at Imperfect Prose:
Also sharing at A Holy Experience:
And at Soli Deo Gloria: