Rising From the Ashes

I am sitting outside looking around at all the beautiful things that Spring brings. The trees blooming. The flowers coming up from the ground. The green grass. New life is everywhere. Then, I think about Jesus. I can’t help myself but think about Him. He is the author of new life because of what He did on that cross. He brings us new life, forgiveness of our sins, a way to live our lives that bring glory to Him. What He did has changed my life and the lives of so many people around the world. We have hope because of Him.

Before His crucifixion, Jesus met with his disciples for the “Last Supper”. “He took the bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.” Luke 22:19 Before He was forsaken. Before He was arrested. Before He lost His life, He sat down with the men—who He had deep relationships with—and broke bread knowing it was their last meal together.

There is so much symbolism here. I close my eyes and try to picture His hands tearing the bread apart. He was showing them that His body was going to be torn apart. Then they drank wine which was the representation of the blood He was going to spill for all mankind. I have read this story a thousand times but the breaking of the bread really speaks to me this year.

Jesus allowed Himself to be broken. He allowed the process and pain of crucifixion for us. He didn’t shield Himself from the things that happened to Him on the way to that cross! No self-preservation for Him. He literally gave His life away. He suffered a horrendous death on that cross for us. Sit there a minute and think about that. He breaks and gives away. WOW!

“Brokenness gives way to abundance.” Voskamp

It isn’t fun to be broken. Suffering is hard and painful. There are things in this world that have broken our hearts. I am learning that it is what I choose to do with my brokenness that matters. I feel abandoned, at times just like Jesus did on that cross, but “suffering is where God gives the most healing intimacy.”Voskamp

I can honestly say that my suffering has brought me an intimacy with Christ that I wouldn’t  have had without it. “There is a strange and aching happiness only the hurting know—for they shall be held.” I know that a “greater life rises from the dark.” Voskamp God can and will work through our dark times.

I have felt like a weirdo most of my life. I always knew I was different. I felt different. Everyone else seemed to be so normal. And then I met Jesus as a young teen and my life got even weirder. I wanted to study my Bible. I wanted to live my life for Christ. I was a teenager who wanted her friends to go to Bible studies and love Jesus. (Talk about weird!) Everyone else wanted to party and have fun. I wanted to evangelize! I didn’t drink and really had no desire to. I was and ever will be a Jesus freak. I knew deep down inside that there was no other way for me. I was completely sold out to Christ.

I am so thankful for all the things that pointed me to Jesus. The people He brought into my life. The friendships I had and still have. He supplied so many things to help me survive my home life. People didn’t talk about abuse like they do now. People didn’t talk about bad things that happened in the home. People didn’t talk about mental illness. You just didn’t feel free to be real. There weren’t many people I could share my feelings with because I was a really great pretender with everyone. I was so broken and didn’t know how bad it was.

My condition makes me think of Isaiah 61:1-3. ”Jesus came to bind up the brokenhearted; to comfort all who mourn and provide for those who grieve; to bestow on us a crown of beauty instead of ashes; to supply oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. We will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of His splendor. “

I may be wounded. I may be hurting. I may be limping. I may be a weirdo. I may feel alone and overwhelmed. But, I am more than a survivor. I am a thriver. I may bleed. But like Jesus, I will rise. I keep waking up day after day putting one foot in front of the other. I keep looking to Jesus because He promises to draw close to me. He comforts me when I mourn. He supplies all I need.

The Christian life isn’t for sissies! It is hard to stay on the right path. It’s hard to keep your chin up. Most of the time I fail miserably, but I wouldn’t want to be without Christ in my life. I wouldn’t want to miss out on watching Him work in me or in others. I have wrestled with so many things but recently it has been this…”Am I more in love with self-preservation than with Savior-glorification?” Voskamp

Because of my childhood, I had to be in self-preservation mode. Nothing wrong with protecting yourself from someone who is trying to hurt you. But, that mode has continued on in my life and frankly it has interfered with my relationship with God. I wrestle with trust issues to be honest. When you are hurt over and over again it is really hard to trust. But, if I continue with self-preservation, then what am I really saying? I am saying I can’t trust God to take care of me and that isn’t good.

“To thrive, you must surrender to a kind of openness. You must surrender control and trust One who is in control, though you will be taken beyond what you can control and into a kind of brokenness, a brokenness that will hurt and yet be kind. A painful grace. This is being truly alive; surrender unshielded to the unknown—because there is a deeper Love that is knowable. And it is only possible to know the touch of His deeper love when you live without armor, vulnerable, exposed.” Voskamp

So this Easter season I am concentrating on Savior-glorification and asking the Lord to help me step away from self-preservation when it comes to Him and spiritual things. There is no one else in this world that has my best interest at heart more than Jesus. He is my protector. He is my deliverer. He is my my friend who loves me through all my hard times. He comforts me like no one else can.

I grew up thinking I had to be tough to survive. (Which is kind of true.) But, I was also made to feel and be vulnerable to my Savior. When I think about it, do I ever refer to Jesus as being tough? I don’t think so. When I think of Him, I think of love and sacrifice. I think of all that He did for others. I think of Him pouring Himself out for us. He broke for us. He gave His life away for us. And, that is who He is still today.

I yearn to be like Jesus. But, if I am honest, it is so hard because I fight self-preservation. Old habits die hard! I fight believing things can change. That I can change. That my God can raise beauty from the ashes. I know that He has done it before and He is still doing it today. I know but do I believe? That is the question.

So I am throwing myself at my Savior’s feet. I want to believe that He can raise me up from ashes. That is His business and that is what He does. I am going to thank Him for everything that He has done and is going to do even before He does it. I believe being thankful in all things is so important even though we might not feel thankful.

I am so in awe of Jesus and what He did for us. I love Him so much! I pray that you are drawing close to Him this Easter. I pray that you can lay your burdens down at His feet and worship Him for what He did on that cross.

Happy Easter dear friends! He is risen! He lives! Look for the beauty in the ashes! Until next time…..

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