Today is Resurrection Day to those who believe in God and His power that brought Jesus back to life. It’s been over a decade now since I’d participated in all the traditional Christian activities that occur every year during this time, that whole Passion Week beginning with Palm Sunday, recounting all of Jesus’ suffering as He was tortured by men, and ending with His triumphant resurrection on Easter morning. In trying to figure out why going through the Passion Week activities just doesn’t have the same appeal to me anymore, I figured out that it’s because that isn’t my favorite part of the Easter Story, and there has always been something missing in all of that traditional way of celebrating the life we have in Jesus. It almost felt somehow like the movie Groundhog Day, where we just repeat the same thing every year, going through the same remembrances, and then go back to life as before.
I’ll tell you what my favorite part of the Easter story is. It’s the stuff that happens AFTER the resurrection. You see, to me, the resurrection isn’t the end of the story, but the beginning of a whole new story, a very exciting one!
I often see stories on the Internet of men restoring buildings that have been abandoned, buildings in which many see no beauty or value. I love seeing these stories where people can see beauty in things others can’t, and then lovingly, painstakingly, bring out that beauty for all to see. Well, my favorite part of the resurrection story is of God doing that with His children, and how, because of the resurrection, He’s able to come live in them and restore them. He sees beauty in ones whom others cannot see as valuable, or ones who don’t feel valuable themselves, then lovingly and patiently restores them back to their original glory, His glory in them, His image that was their original blueprint.
It’s puzzling to me how people can accept men’s ability to restore a building, but refuse to see and accept God’s restoration power of people’s lives, restoring them from brokenness to the glory of His image that’s “ingrained” in them much like the beautiful patterns of the wood grain in an old neglected wooden cabin. If man, in his finite abilities, can do so much to mere buildings, how much more can God who is limitless do in the hearts of people? His work isn’t always visible, and perhaps that’s where the people have trouble seeing it, but He surely is working everyday in the hearts of many, mending the brokenness, healing the wounds, and restoring people to their original glory. He works in the realm of hopes and dreams, of sorrow and joy, of torment and peace, of things invisible but surely felt. The same power that brought Jesus back from the dead is still around and raising many wounded souls back to life. And THAT, my friend, is the part of the Easter story I love to tell the most!
He went to the cross thousands of years before I was born. But on that day, Jesus saw into the future, and knew me. He was thinking of me when He gave up His life to cure me of the disease of the mind and spirit that can only be cured through the transfusion of His Spirit into mine. He ripped the curtain in the temple in two, so that there is no more barrier between me and Him. I can now approach Him as freely as my own children can approach me. I can now talk to Him as a child to a Father without any fear, feeling completely safe, accepted, and loved. All this was made possible because He loved me far into the future. He thought of me and knew that someday, I would be born. And He waited. Patiently he waited. Through all the time that I was searching everywhere else for love and a place to belong, He waited. He saw me through time, knew what it would cost for our relationship, and He willingly paid the price. He gave up His life, enduring the worst that humanity, His own creation, threw at Him, so He and I can be connected spirit to spirit as we are today. I am forever thankful that He had me on His mind when He was on that cross.
WHEN HE WAS ON THE CROSS I WAS ON HIS MIND
by: Ronny Hinson and Mike Payne
I’m not on an ego trip, I’m nothing on my own,
I make mistakes; I often slip; I’m just common flesh and bone.
But I’ll prove someday, just why I say that I’m of a special kind,
For when He was on the cross, I was on His mind.
The look of love was on His face, and thorns were on His head,
Blood was on His scarlet robe, it stained with crimson red.
Though His eyes were on the crowd that day, He looked ahead in time.
For when He was on that cross, you see, I was on His mind.
He knew me, yet He loved me,
He whose glory makes the heavens shine.
So unworthy of such mercy,
Yet when He was on the cross, I was on His mind,
When He was on the cross, I was on His mind.
Over the years, and especially lately, people have commented how I don’t seem to have a button people can push, that I seem to take things in stride, don’t hold grudges and able to be friends with just about anyone. Some have asked how I can do this. The truthful answer is that I cannot do this alone. I have friends for support. But I think the deeper explanation is found in the secret place of my heart, where the Holy Spirit dwells. This is my center of calm in the middle of a tornado, my anchor in the stormy sea. This is where I come running to my Father as a scared and hurt little girl and go out again strong and able to handle things.
We all have this secret place. Many go there and come out more closed and scared. I want to tell you, that’s how my secret place used to be. It was a lonely place, where I thought nobody could understand me or care enough about me. I tried to handle things alone, to appear strong and together to the world. But it didn’t work. My whole world came crumbling down because I couldn’t hold it all together by myself. In desperation I called out a name, the Name above all names, Jesus. I admitted I was falling apart, that I was a failure, not worthy of His call. He agreed with me. Ha! But then He said, “And I love you anyway.” Came to find out, He’s always been there in this secret place. I just never noticed, because I’d been taught that my heart was sinful and couldn’t be trusted, that I needed to be careful about voices there of the wrong spirits, so I shut out that still small voice of His, the very source of the strength and support I needed. I have learned the truth since then, which is that I can trust what I hear in my heart, because that’s where He resides.
THE SECRET PLACE (c) 1996 Sophie Doell
In my heart there is a place where none can harm me;
It’s a place that’s only known to You and me;
In this place, I find the strength to face each new Day;
For in this place is where Your Spirit came to stay.
In this secret place there is peace;
In this secret place there’s always hope;
In this secret place my fears and worries turn to confidence;
And I find joy in Your unfailing love.
And so He came. . . The Creator taking the form of His creation. . .Becoming one of us. . .Living among us. . . Experiencing our pain, joy, sorrow, despair. . .Relating face-to-face with us. . . Giving us His all. . . Becoming vulnerable to our wrath in order to demonstrate that He had no wrath toward us and that we’ve been forgiven long before He came.
Humbly He came, as a baby born in a lowly stable, to show us how to live, how to love, and how to have heaven in our hearts at all times. He came to love us in all of our messes, then showed us a better and higher way to love ourselves and others. His love is the transforming kind of love, the kind that makes you content in being just the way you are, and at same time encourages you to be much more than you thought you could ever be.
That’s what Christmas is all about to me, God becoming man to show me the truth about Himself and me. Love coming to the beloved, telling me I am precious and valued beyond measure. I have been touched by this love and have forever been changed. This is why I celebrate Christmas.
Look at this leaf. It’s a leaf in transition, from the green of Summer to the red and orange of Fall. It’s beautiful! We humans tend to fear change. We are more comfortable with things staying the same. We like things to be predictable. But life is full of change. And growth cannot happen without change. Do not resit change, for to resist change is to resist growth and the necessary transition from season to season, from immaturity to maturity, from naive to wise, from inexperienced to experienced, from wounded to healed. Embrace the change. It’s a beautiful process!
Today, I want to share a song with those of you who feel you’re facing life alone, and your hope is fading. I have been there, in those dark days when I literally had no friend to talk to (moved to a place where I knew nobody). In your dark hour, don’t be afraid to look inside you, into the darkness. Perhaps you see things you don’t like about yourself, and wonder how anyone can like you. Or you’re facing problems you just don’t know how to solve, or dealing with difficult situations that you don’t know how to get through.
Here’s a truth I hope you will hear from me today: You are created in God’s image and deeply loved. God’s goodness is your origin, and you will find Him when you dare to look inside yourself. Yes, you will see some things that aren’t so good, wrong choices you’ve made that brought you to this junction in your life, things that you want to change about yourself but don’t know how, things you’re ashamed of, or things you’re afraid that people will reject you for if they knew, or things that make you hate yourself. Don’t be afraid to look at them, because as you dare to look at the truth about yourself, you will also see God and His grace there. He will show you the good things about you; teach you to accept yourself, forgive yourself, and love yourself. He will help you to move past the pain and forgive others who’ve hurt you. There’s a Voice inside your heart that knows you are purposely designed for good. Listen to that voice. Inside you is all the strength you’ll ever need to get up and get going again, because inside you is the seed of Life that God has planted.
We are all created in God’s image and His Life is in us. When we look inside us, and truly seek to find what good there is, we will find God in all that’s good about us. That’s where I found Him–in the deepest place of my heart, And He showed me how to see myself with His eyes; that I am beautiful. He showed me I could be a hero and triumph over the darkness. The strength came from within me where He is, and when I started seeing myself through His eyes, I became a hero.
Hero (2009) by Moriah Carey
There’s a hero
If you look inside your heart
You don’t have to be afraid
Of what you are
There’s an answer
If you reach into your soul
And the sorrow that you know
Will melt away
And then a hero comes along
With the strength to carry on
And you cast your fears aside
And you know you can survive
So when you feel like hope is gone
Look inside you and be strong
And you’ll finally see the truth
That a hero lies in you
It’s a long road
When you face the world alone
No one reaches out a hand
For you to hold
You can find love
If you search within yourself
And the emptiness you felt
Dreams are hard to follow
But don’t let anyone
Tear them away
There will be tomorrow
You’ll find the way
I feel exhausted today, like I’d just given birth to another child. And in a sense, I have! This “baby” — the compassion for the homeless from a source much bigger than myself– has been growing in my heart for a very long time, ever since I was a little girl.
I hope you will take a look at this new blog (if you haven’t already done so). It’s called Faces of the Homeless, and its purpose is to acquaint the readers with homelessness, in particular the homeless people. I hope to change the public perception of the homeless people from one which sees them as a social problem for the government to solve, to seeing them as individuals just like you and me, with a need for respect, friendship, and encouragement. For more details on how this project got started, go to http://facesofthehomeless.org and click on “How This Blog Got Started” to read about my recent experience in Nashville, TN.
Don’t worry, I will still post to the Songs of My Heart blog every so often. 🙂