Browsing Tag

Resurrection

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang… and Flying

Eliza Jane Giselbach, born a week-and-a-half ago is the best thing that’s happened to this Mammy during the pandemic, for sure. She’s also the catalyst for lots of lost sleep, more than a few episodes of over-excitement in her siblings, and searches for pandemic-safe outlets for kids who are making way too much racket for a mom (and mammy) who are over their heads in unpacking from a move, laundry, cooking and just adjusting to life with a newborn, once again. 

While watching Chitty Chitty Bang Bang with them, Ezra asked if we could ever really get a car that could fly. After hearing various speculations around the room about the unlikelihood of that happening during our lifetimes, Ezra said this: “…But we are going to fly—just by ourselves—when Jesus comes to get us. We will fly and we will not even need a car or a plane or anything.”

I Corinthians 15 explains to us the very serious nature of his little five-year-old statement. Everything we are and do and every hope that anchors us is founded in the fact that the resurrection from the dead happened in that garden outside Jerusalem 2000 years ago, facilitating His own flight back to the Father; and that the resurrection and ascension will happen again for you and me. That all-encompassing thesis for the lives of all Christians, in fact, is the driving force for all the things we’ve done in the craziness of welcoming Eliza Jane into that household. Papa and I held those wee hands several times during the day of her birth and prayed for her safety and her life in the Lord. We held them again after her safe delivery and thanked Him for their new little sister. We prayed that she would grow up to be a strong and faithful force for good in the Kingdom. Every night before they climb into their beds in that little nursery, we say our books of the Bible, spend time in a Bible account with them and listen to them talk to God. They pray about Baxter, the cat, with the same ardor that they pray for Eliza, at this point, But our whole purpose in these times around the Word is their emergence in, at last and for all time, knowing the difference between things that are temporal and things that are eternal—people who will be raised and things that will not. Every mealtime prayer, every Bible time, every worship assembly, every invitation to neighbors to visit our services, every card of encouragement, every prayer for a lost one, every blog-post, every speaking appointment, every spanking, every ethical discussion and decision, every meal prepared or instance of hospitality offered—every one— is woven into the fiber of life that comes from being certain that He walked away from the tomb. 

But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.

But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead (I Cor. 15:13-20).

IN FACT.  Those two words about the resurrection are the crux of most of what I will do today. I’m so thankful for the resurrection and for the purpose, hope and certainty it brings to every day of my life. What appears to be chaotic in the moments of a Christian’s life is not really chaotic at all. Even the stressful and sleepless times are purposeful. Even the inevitable moments when we fall to temptation are of value when we right the wrongs and learn from the failures. It’s profound to ponder that something empty in Jerusalem 2000 years ago is making my life full and purposeful still today. Something that shook the earth, then, has given me something unshakeable. Praise God today for the resurrection!

And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it (Matthew 28:2).

Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe… (Heb. 12:28).

And praise Him that, leaving our own tombs, we will fly…without a car or a plane or anything!

 

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Lights of Glory

How sweet to hold a newborn baby

And feel the pride and the joy he gives

But greater still the calm assurance

This child can face uncertain days because He Lives.

As we sang these words last night at our service of praise, I just had a huge “catch” in my heart and voice. Realizing the depth  of the uncertainty that lies in our tolerant, morally unfettered world, I know that the newborn I will prayerfully hold this week, will face uncertain days. I immediately thought about how that my sweet father, who left this uncertain world last December, would have loved to have held the firstborn child of his firstborn grandson. (That’s my dad in the picture with Caleb all those years ago.) Their lives on this earth almost intersected. In truth, the lives did intersect. For a few days at the end of Dad’s life, both the brand new heart and the 95-year-old one were beating. Dad just never got to know about this intersection of life. Singing those words—any words, really—about the great hope we share with most of you who are reading, just arrests my emotions, of late. I had to stop singing and cry for a moment.

But then, there’s this last empowering verse and chorus. It’s the chorus that dries tears, replaces fears, and lets me sing again: 

And then one day, I’ll cross that river

I’ll fight life’s final war with pain

And then, as death gives way to vict’ry

I’ll see the lights of glory and I’ll know He reigns.

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.

The truth is, by faith, I already know He reigns. Because He has made death His last enemy (I Cor. 15:25,26)…because the angel announced truthfully “He is not here, but He is risen,” (Matthew 28:6)…little Maggie can face uncertain days. She will face them with a fearless devotion to the One who has the last word over every enemy. 

Because He lives, the verses of life that bring sorrow are followed by verses that bring courage and anticipation. Of course, the last verse is the best. After the days in an uncertain world, where persecution surely could be a part of the landscape for Christians, there will be a day when pain and death give way to victory. We will see the lights of glory and fear will be a thing of the past. 

There are actually a couple of families, to whom I am very closely connected in Him, that are almost sure to be holding newborn babies by the end of this week. We will count their fingers and toes and marvel at the softness of newborn skin and try to catch the gaze of eyes that can’t yet focus. Proud fathers and grandfathers will be amazed by features that are most certainly inherited from “our side of the family.” But the real marvel will be the unseen feature housed in those tiny little bodies; little souls entrusted to the care of determined parents, who by faith can already catch a glimmer of the lights of glory…just because He lives!

There’s nothing new in the power of those three words “because He lives.” But sometimes, when I think about the decisive eternal victory that happened when that stone was rolled away and linen grave clothes were folded and left behind, I wonder how people, who have not looked into the empty tomb, can make it through the uncertain days. How can they overcome days of hopelessness when there is no light at the end of the tunnel? How can they bury loved ones and then “get on with things”, when the reality of death, for them, holds such finality? How can they ever “come back” from reeling reversals in health or finances, when they see no larger purpose than remaining healthy and wealthy? How can they suffer through the woes of bad moral choices, when there is, for them, no system of redemption? 

I guess they just function out of “expected normalcy” and take temporary joy from the blessings that our God generously rains down on both the just and the unjust (Matthew 5:45). But I’m so glad there’s a whole different shower of blessings for obedient believers. I love standing in that rain!

One day, when we’ve been there ten thousand years (if time could even be measured there), the little intersections of life on this planet will seem so momentary. Our lives on earth will be the tiniest dot in an eternal sphere.  But the choices in this brief moment we call life—our reaction to His empty tomb— make the dot remarkable. That makes the week (on the dot) in front of you and me significant. May the transactions, blessings, meetings, gifts, jobs, accomplishments, friendships and family that fill our planners this week be appropriate reactions to the victory He heralded when he walked away from that borrowed tomb.  Some events of the week will seem more significant than others. But life matters, this week, for all of us. Because He lives.

(Because He Lives, lyrics by Bill Gaither, Songs of Faith and Praise)