I’ve seen my share of dead people and I'll never forget how as a child, I attended a visitation for gentleman from our church. He was a withered old man with a long white beard – a skinny Santa Claus if you will.
My family had already huddle-walked our way through the line, shook the hands of the bereaved family and softly uttered our condolences. In all honesty, I didn’t actually utter anything, but I did my best to look appropriately sad in case anyone was taking note.
My parents continued visiting with family and friends, but soon, I got bored. (A bored child at a visitation is never a good thing.)
I sat staring over the back of the pews to the open casket at the front of the church… wondering what it was like to be dead. The old man lay there so still – from where I sat, all I could see was the top of his forehead and a good bit of his nose. Someone behind me was wiping their red-rimmed eyes while commenting how “pleasant Pete’s face appeared.”
I didn’t remember him looking pleasant.
How does a dead person look pleasant? It was too much for my six-year-old mind to understand. No one seemed to be paying attention, so I quietly made my way back up to the casket. I stood there completely oblivious to anyone else in the room. And in that moment, it was just me… and old Pete.
I studied his chest - checking for movement. Nothing. Pete’s beard didn’t move – nor did his hands. My eyes travelled up to his lined face and suddenly, I couldn’t breathe. My body became cold and rigid with fear because there before me, Pete had turned his head, opened his eyes… and stared right at me!
My eyes bugged open wide and I turned, tripping in fear as I raced to find my mother. She was there where I had left her – still talking. I turned back half-expecting Pete to be sitting up, looking around from the soft, white lining of his coffin – but the ornery old guy had closed his eyes again - looking just dead as ever.
He remained dead the rest of the night and we went on to bury him the following day.
Even then my imagination had a life of its own. J
Years have gone by, since that memorable visitation, and I have found that, though painful and unwanted, there is a mysterious beauty in death. While it is the greatest enemy of mankind, it is also the gateway by which we will pass to endless living... no, really living!
God allows us in the simplest ways to experience resurrection each day.
Take a seed, for example. It is dry, brown, ugly… dead. Completely lifeless. Do a time-lapse video of it, and you got nothing. No change. No growth. Just… dead.
But bury it, and a miracle takes place. From out of the ground comes something completely unlike the seed that still lies beneath the soil! It is bursting with color, growth, beauty and… life!
Resurrection! Life from that which was dead!
If God can bring life from a tiny, dead seed, just imagine what He could do through you.
Oh death, where is thy sting?
Death. The fearsome enemy of death now no longer has control over you! The resurrection defeated its unrelenting grip! Yes, we experience death daily. We face it still. But knowing that these moments I’m living today are nothing in comparison to the life I’ll experience one day!
To not acknowledge that Jesus was crucified as a blood sacrifice to cover our sins, that He died, was buried, and resurrected leaves us with nothing. If He couldn’t rise from the dead… then we have no hope. But the fact remains, that He did resurrect – and the power that gave Him life is available to you and I as well (let that sink in)!
…if the alive-and-present God who raised Jesus from the dead moves into your life, He’ll do the same thing in you that He did in Jesus, bringing you alive to Himself.
When God lives and breathes in you
(and He does, as surely as He did in Jesus),
you are delivered from that dead life.
With his Spirit living in you,
your body will be as alive as Christ’s!
My challenge in all this is, take the dead areas of your life – your marriage, your finances, your fears, your hopes… bury them in the Word of God and drink in the wisdom and power only He has to offer.
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great story! you had me going with the whole eye thing. but then, word would have traveled fast about a resurrection at the mennonite church in michigan.
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