I sat on the floor of my dad’s house with a box of old cards and letters in my lap. They were my mom’s who passed away ten years ago. He had asked me to go through them and decide what I wanted to keep. I opened card after card from past birthdays, Valentine’s Days, and Mother’s Days only signed with a simple “I love you” and a signature. Then I came to one with a small, folded piece of steno notebook paper inside, a handwritten note scribbled on it. It was a note my grandmother wrote to my mom.
My relationship with my mom carried an imaginary wall that always separated us. It was complicated, as I think many mother/daughter relationships can be, but the best way I can describe it is as being physically present but not emotionally present. As I read the note from my grandmother to my mom I saw that generational roots grow deep. She said that she loved my mom but they never understood each other, they never became friends, and as a result, my grandmother didn’t know her grandchildren—she didn’t know me.
I stared at the words and felt a surge of conviction run through my chest. At 43 years old I still hold on to the pain of our relationship. Most days it’s resentment. Some days it’s sadness. A few days there’s compassion. But there’s always fear that this generational thread will continue and the story with my daughters will be the same. As I grew up I managed the pain like most people manage pain—through idols, self-preservation strategies, and addictions. However, they weren’t just childish coping mechanisms. They became strongholds that I still struggle with today.
Photo Credit: © Unsplash/Miguel Bruna
Is Resurrection for the Dead Places in My Life Possible Today?
In 1 Corinthians 15, Paul defends Jesus’ resurrection and teaches that Jesus followers will also experience bodily resurrection after their death. As I studied this chapter, I had no problem accepting my resurrection to come. Death has never been something that scares me. Instead I eagerly anticipate when the time comes. However, the truth I struggle with is my resurrection today.
Jesus said, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10, NIV). But many days I don’t feel like I have full life as Jesus talks about here. Instead, I feel like I’m barely holding on, limping and crawling through each day. The question, “Is there resurrection for me now? Not just when I die, but resurrection for the dead places in my life today?” autoplays in my mind.
Will I ever forgive my mom? Will I get over the hurt from our broken relationship? Will I overcome disordered eating that has kept me in bondage since I was a child? Will I accept that God’s boundary lines for me have fallen in pleasant places (Psalm 16:6)? Will I believe that God is sovereign over my life even in my sin? Will I stop obsessing over what other people think of me? Will my perfectionism ever end? Will I stop nailing people to the cross for their sins because I can’t forgive myself for my sins? Will I always be plagued by a judgmental spirit, unforgiveness, and anger?
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The Question Jesus Asks First
In John 5, Jesus asks the most profound question in the whole Bible. He asks, “Do you want to get well?” He asks this question to a man who had been an invalid for 38 years. The man’s honest rebuttal could have been, “Why wouldn’t I want to get well? Do you think I’ve hung out at this pool all these years because I like it?” However, getting well is often harder than staying sick. Not everyone wants to get well. I haven’t wanted to get well.
Not getting well means I am not living a resurrected life, despite the words of Romans 6:6-14:
We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.
Instead, I live as an invalid sitting at the edge of healing water, like the man in the Bible, just not able to get in.
Why do I not just jump into God's resurrected grace? Because my clinched heart justifies unforgiveness, a judgmental spirit, a Pharisaical attitude, too high of standards for myself and others, and no grace. My clinched heart gives me an excuse for my sin. It lets me off-the-hook from the hard work of getting well. If I let myself off-the-hook, then I have to let everyone else in my life off-the-hook. My heart is clinched too tightly to do that, so I stay sick. I don’t accept Jesus’ gift of present-day resurrection and instead, I live a miserable life of death.
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How Can I Live a Resurrected Life Now?
Jesus wasn’t beaten, humiliated, and nailed to a Cross just so that we could limp along in life in the shadows of strongholds that hold us in bondage year after year. No, Jesus excruciatingly gave His life so that our resurrected life would begin now with His resurrected life.
For us to experience Jesus’ resurrected life now we first must answer for ourselves the question Jesus asked, “Do you want to get well?” Getting well is the hard road, not the easy one. It’s easy to continue allowing ourselves to govern our lives. What’s hard is abiding in Christ day after day. But abiding is the answer to living a resurrected life now.
Every year in January I pray and ask God to give me a word for the upcoming year—a word to focus on or a word that I want to grow in my life. This past January He gave me the word “abide.” Abide means “to dwell” or “to remain.” When I abide in Jesus, I dwell with Him in every area of my life and on every issue. I remain in His presence not looking to the left or the right but instead looking right at the One who gave me a resurrected life and enables me to live that life out fully. “'Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:4-5).
If we are not living a resurrected life now, then we are missing our primary calling on this earth—to bear much fruit for the glory of God’s kingdom. Today ask yourself, “Do I want to get well?” and then start the intentional work of abiding in God’s love, His Word, and His promises.
Brenda Rodgers considers herself a “recovering single” after years as a single woman chasing after marriage instead of chasing after Jesus. Now her passion is to mentor young women to live purposefully and grow in their relationship with God and others. Brenda has been married for five years to a heart transplant hero and is the mom of a toddler girl miracle. She is also the author of the eBook Fall for Him: 25 Challenges from a Recovering Single. You can also read more on Brenda’s blog, www.TripleBraidedLife.com and follow her on Twitter and Facebook.
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Originally published Tuesday, 24 March 2020.