As I prepared my heart for Easter Sunday, God impressed on me what "new life in Christ" can mean.
Of course, it implies that there is an old life which must be dealt with first. Oh...the implications. Old life where the marriage is falling apart. Old life where bitterness rules. Old life where rebellion against authority leads to chaos. Old life where the soul is dry and barren. Old life where confusion clouds every decision. Old life where bad habits have gained such strength they feel insurmountable. Old life where ________ (fill in your story).
Then comes death. I know, it feels like the saying, "Life sucks, and then you die." Well...maybe that's the whole point of life being sucky. We do not change course until it hurts too much to stay where we are. There's another saying, "Old habits die hard." But death must come before new life, a truth illustrated to us every Spring.
But before new life can begin, death must be buried in forgiveness. Jesus, while dying on the cross, spoke of forgiveness. It was His way of blessing those who persecuted them. He not only spoke the words, he actively gave up something in order to pour blessing onto those responsible for his pain and suffering. It is the meaning behind the exhortation for us to take up our cross and follow Him. Matthew, Mark and Luke all record this saying in their gospel accounts. I like Luke's version best. It says to take up our cross daily. (Luke 9:23) Take a moment to let that sink in. Every day, we are to look for a way to bless those who cause our pain and suffering, to forgive them not only with words but in deeds. Even if that person is us.
Burying a dying marriage in forgiveness.
Burying bitterness in forgiveness.
Burying rebellion, confusion, selfishness, and bad habits in forgiveness.
Burying things which needed to die, things which sometimes have to be killed daily, in forgiveness.
Burying them by being a blessing.
Because then comes new life. Abundant life. A life exceeding our expectations. Life given by the One who created the earth out of nothingness, who causes rain to fall on the dry places and makes a garden, the only One who can give life after death.
May you be blessed with a Happy Easter. A Happy Resurrection Sunday. A Happy New Life!