Return to Easter

On Sunday I gave all of me to celebrating the Resurrection of Jesus. Not only did I worship him for this victory but I sought to believe that Jesus was inviting me to participate in it with him. To be a part of it. To see it not just as his but as mine.

And so, I prayed as Paul did,

“that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead… I press on to make it my own, because Jesus Christ has made me his own.” -Phil 3:10-12

We dreamt together. We dreamt of what a resurrected heart would feel like. What a resurrected mind could accomplish and what a resurrected body can and will become. It was a glorious vision of how sufficient the work of Jesus truly is and how we can be a people born of it. Im not gonna lie, I was in my glory. Worshipping Jesus with His sons and daughters is a euphoric experience that is unrivalled in this life, for me. Sunday was the perfect crescendo from the lowliness and hunger of Lent into ascending and tasting of heaven. And not a metaphorical taste but a physical and tangible taste. Because we don’t just talk about Jesus, we feast at the Table of Jesus. We take the benefits into our very being. As a people, we reached the destination of our longings. We did participate in Jesus’ Resurrection.

Thankfully, I can say that in the days that have followed I have lived in a uninterrupted state of emotional, intellectual, and physical new life…

Sadly, that couldn’t be further from the truth.

Instead, I awoke to a Monday of weariness and weakness that has lasted uninhibited into Tuesday. Motivated by an insatiable desire for comfort and fulfillment I proceeded to scour, from horizon to horizon, the creation. Searching for something to fill me up. Searching for life.

“Netflix, do you have life for me? What about you Instagram? We have been apart for six weeks! Maybe it is in our supple scrolling that the thirsts of my heart will be wetted! No, of course not. It’s not in social media, it is in the perfect behaviour of my children and my wife’s appetite for romance!” (As you can see, I have achieved the unachievable. I have concocted a fool-proof recipe for happiness.)

By the time I realized the stupidity of what I was doing I had crushed the world around me with my need. Nothing in the creation can handle the weight of the human heart. Not entertainment, food or relationships. My hearts need for filling washed over my home, drowning it in disappointment and discouragement. I wish I could say that it’s at this point that I made my return to Easter.

Nope. Not here. Not yet.

I could see what I was doing. I could see my sin. And I could see that it wasn’t working but couldn’t stop myself. With each new disappointment my disgust in myself grew. I moved from disappointment to disapproval to a complete and utter disdain for myself. But, instead of turning to grace I went further on in my descent. Instead of turning to my Father, I said, “Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night. (Ps139:11) I deserve this darkness. I deserve this sorrow. I deserve this shit because that is exactly what I am. I might as well just settle in and make my bed here (Sheol).” (Ps139:8)

I could see my heart (desire). I could see the lie (that the creation would fulfill it). I could see my sin (that I was exchanging him for things). I could see my need for grace (for all of this). And rather than turning to him I embraced the darkness. I took the darkness of shame and made it my own.

This is my confession. A confession of my internal descent from participating in Jesus’ Resurrection Table to making a bed of grave clothes in the darkness of Sheol.

I’m the man that preached Jesus resurrected on Sunday and cozied up under the covers of death by Tuesday. So, where is the Resurrection now? Have I forsaken it? Have I been disqualified from it? Is the resurrection still available for a loser like me?

The answer came for me in these words,

“You search out my path and my laying down and are acquainted with all my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O LORD, you know it all together. You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me… If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!” – Ps 139:3-8

He came for me. He knows me better than I know myself and he lovingly hemmed me in. He was waiting for me in the darkness. He went there ahead of me. And with the love of an understanding Father, he placed his hand upon me. As I sat in my study, brooding over these words, my heart began to fill. My deep deep longings, wrongfully aimed at this world, had found their satisfaction again. Satisfaction in the saving Hand of the Father; Jesus. The Hand of understanding, redemption and resurrection.

Here is an exert from my journal:

“My heart wants to make it’s bed in Sheol and say, the darkness shall cover me. Everything fleshly within me wants to cover myself in the darkness of shame, guilt, and self-hatred. Declaring that I do not deserve light or goodness. That I am undeserving of life, because I have chosen death. For today, I was born from my bed in the flesh. Yet, I am in Christ. I am a new creation. I am born of the Spirit. I am born, not of the will of darkness, but of the will of His Resurrection…

Father, I repent and return to your Son’s Resurrection. This is not who you have made me to be (given over to discouragement, despair, and a dreary heart). Instead, I look upon the Resurrected Christ and am compelled to make the words of the Psalmist my own.

‘For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made (in Christ). Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.’

I return to Easter.”

This. This is how we become a people of the Resurrection. By always and continually returning to the Resurrection. Return from the death you have chosen and the death forced upon you. Return to Easter. For you are his and he is yours.

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9 Comments

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  1. Thanks for writing this and sharing, I whispered “how? I’m just not getting it” in church this Sunday. I think the answer is always more complicated then it really is. The answer was on the tippy top on my heart and your words just confirmed it. All is grace.

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  2. Yes. This is awesome. Jesus is awesome.

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  3. Reblogged this on The Church at Pittsfield and commented:
    Our perfection never reveals Jesus’ redemption, but out failure sure does.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Do you deserve light, goodness and life?

    Because if you deserve it, it is no longer grace, God is no longer good and the gospel is no longer good or necessary. He just gives you what you deserve. So have you found yourself in a place of having earned your favour with God? I doubt that’s what you are wanting to say…

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    • Hi, Nico. Thanks for helping bring clarity to this.

      I think the part of my blog that followed those statements attempted to communicate that…

      “I could see my heart (desire). I could see the lie (that the creation would fulfill it). I could see my sin (that I was exchanging him for things). I could see my need for grace (for all of this). And rather than turning to him I embraced the darkness. I took the darkness of shame and made it my own.”

      I was and will forever be in need of grace for salvation. A grace which is of course, undeserved. But, in Christ it is not death that I deserve but life. Not because I have earned or attained life but because Jesus has. I deserve what he deserves because he purchased it on my behalf. Even as I type this I am struck by how audacious this statement is.

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      • Thanks for the clarification Ryan. I’ve been thinking about it on and off for the last few days.

        Could you point me to a scripture that talks about this idea of ‘deserving’ life? I’m curious how you have come to this conclusion. It’s difficult for me to accept this idea of deserving/entitlement even with the “in Christ” attached to it. Since Jesus had to purchase life on our behalf (because obviously we could never pay for it) then, of course, we don’t deserve it (which you agree with). When we do receive certain benefits of the gospel (whether primary or secondary benefits) I can only see them as undeserved gifts, bestowed on us by our gracious God. The thought that through our faith, which God gave us, we deserve our justification, sanctification, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, acts of God’s faithfulness, etc… I will need some compelling biblical reasoning to accept that, but I’m willing to reconsider!

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      • Hey Nico, I can’t seem to reply to a reply so I will have to respond here.

        “The thought that through our faith, which God gave us, we deserve our justification, sanctification, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, acts of God’s faithfulness, etc… I will need some compelling biblical reasoning to accept that…”

        I believe all I said was, “In Christ it is not death I deserve but life.” Here is my reasoning:

        1) The OT Scriptures tell us that the righteous are rewarded.

        “Tell the righteous that it shall be well with them, for they shall eat the fruit of their deeds. Woe to the wicked! It shall be ill with him, for what his hands have dealt out shall be done to him.” – Is 3:10-11

        2) The righteous requirements of the law are fulfilled in us by Christ Jesus (Rm 8:4). We are now righteous as he is righteous (1Jn 3:7).

        3) Because our righteousness is His righteousness we are rewarded with life.
        “This is evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be considered worthy of the kingdom of God” – 2Thes 1:5

        “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.” -Jn3:36

        “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” – Jn 10:10

        I recognize that you are struggling to see my heart, and for any fault of mine in that, I’m truly sorry. I regret my choice of the word (deserve) but I do not regret the truth of the Gospel it was meant to champion.

        The work of Christ is so abundantly sufficient that our participation in His resurrection is just as owed to Him (in us) as the forgiveness of our sins.

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  5. Thx for opening up your heart and sharing with such vulnerability Ryan! I am longing for more resurrection…I’m returning with you.

    Liked by 1 person

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