Monday, March 7, 2011

Resurrection Power

I'm finishing the Resurrection and the Life in Snapshots, and want to share this part. It's not edited yet, and there's still a lot of work to do on the whole thing. But it's so completely amazing that I can't not put it on here. I'm no good at telling my own stories, but this one is rocking my world, blowing my mind and making me cheer for the Hero with all of my might. He is the resurrection. Come on out of the grave.

I'm taking a class right now called “The Art of Storytelling.” We do a lot of creative stuff in there, and talk about really deep things, and figure out how to develop characters and overcome conflict and other really artsy stuff. One of the parts of story that I've liked learning about is called the “black hole moment.” Every great story has this moment when all hope seems lost. It's the point of no return, and yet, when you're the one listening to the story, deep within yourself you hope for something miraculous to happen. No one wants a story to end on a black hole moment. To this day, I cannot watch the movie Old Yeller, because in my opinion, that movie ends with a black hole. I get that he saves the day and all, but seriously, no one wants the dog to die. I'm more of a Homeward Bound kind of girl. Tell me a story where the faithful Golden Retriever reunites with his master after traveling through the wilderness. Now, that's a good story.

Maybe that's why I like the Bible so much. Because the Bible does not end at the black hole moment. The Bible is the original great story, and what happened in Bethany is a story within the story. When Jesus arrived at Lazarus' grave site, I guess you could call that the black hole moment. Everyone was incredibly sad. Even Jesus was really upset. I mean, imagine being Mary and Martha and looking over at Jesus, the one person you thought could save you from this kind of sadness, the person that you've, even now, confessed is the Son of God, and watching Him weep too. I guess that some people find that comforting. And I think that it is in a way. It shows that Jesus is really compassionate and understands and deeply feels human emotions. But we're not used to seeing heroes cry. I don't know why not. The Bible tells lots of stories about heroes who cried out to God lots of times. They even pitched fits from time to time. And here is Jesus, the main Hero of the great story, and at the black hole moment in Bethany, He's crying. He did the same thing later on at the garden of Gethsemane. Another black hole moment was coming for Jesus. He knew He was going to die on a cross in a few hours. But instead of becoming righteously indignant or painting his face with war paint and riding around on a horse shouting about freedom, He went to a garden with His friends and cried there. I'm not saying that Jesus is not a hero. He's definitely my Hero. I'm saying that our idea of what heroes do in the black hole moment is affected by what we see on TV or in the movies or hear in other stories that are younger than this one. I think this is encouraging because there are times that I go through really tough stuff and the only comfort that I have is knowing that Jesus went through stuff that's just as tough or even tougher than what I'm going through. Paul called that sharing in Christ's sufferings, and it's a really normal part of being a Christian. So when I'm in the black hole moments of my own story, it's good to know that just because Jesus' Spirit grieves with me because of the sadness I'm experiencing, it doesn't mean that He's not going to do something completely amazing next.

In Bethany, Jesus might have walked into the black hole moment with a tear in His eye, but I'd like to think there wasn't even the faintest tremor in His voice when He commanded them to take away the stone that was covering Lazarus' grave. Martha objected. She was worried about how badly her days-dead brother was going to smell, but Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?” And they took the stone away. Then Jesus prayed and told God that He was thankful that He always listens to Him. Then He told Him that He was saying that so that the people could believe. Then He told Lazarus to come out. And Lazarus did.

At Calvary, Jesus said something really different about His relationship with His Father. Rather than saying, “I knew that you always hear me,” He cried out, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” This is history's black hole moment. The moment that the Son of God absorbed the wrath of His Father so that all of humanity didn't have to be destroyed. And after His life was given up, they laid His body in a tomb, probably not unlike the one that Lazarus was in. But three days later, He got up and He walked out. No black hole moment is black enough to permanently darken the Light.

Jesus is the resurrection. Death could not hold Lazarus when Jesus commanded Him to come out of the grave, because even death has to let go when Jesus tells it to. And death couldn't keep Him in the grave either, but had to let go after three days, just like He said it would. And because Jesus is the resurrection, death has to let go of you too. Though you might go through many black hole moments in your own story, the truth is that Jesus has authority over all of them. The true black hole moment of your story is that you cannot live eternally without Jesus giving you life. You cannot reunite with a Holy God unless He invites you to do so. Your black hole is the sin inheritance you received before you were ever born, before you ever had a chance to do good or bad. But Jesus, the resurrection, comes to your grave, calls your name and says, “Come out!” And when you hear His voice, you are infused with the same power that resurrected Lazarus in Bethany, that resurrected Jesus' own brutalized body outside of Jerusalem, and you cannot ever die again.

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