Last week I witnessed two cars back into each other in a parking lot. Both were going slowly, but too quickly for any of us bystanders to scream “stop, watch out”, and damage occurred. You could see the look of disappointment on both of the driver’s faces as they tallied up the extra tasks that would be added to their day: calling the insurance company, filling out paperwork, getting their car into a mechanic, mentally calculating the additional costs and inconveniences.
A flood of memories and emotions came back as I remembered the same thing happened to me while my youngest was in his toddler car seat. I was sure I had looked both ways, fully aware of many people leaving the coffee shop and drug store. I slowly reversed, until I heard and felt the crunch. If you’ve been in this circumstance before, you know what I mean that time stands still. I remember reaching back and squeezing his chunky leg: “Are you ok?” “Yes, Momma” (oh how I miss being called Momma). I remember my heart racing. Tears in my eyes. My brain throwing questions at me: What if he has a concussion? What if he has whiplash? How will I know if he is truly ok? Even with following the proper driving protocol of checking mirrors and reversing slowly, I wasn’t able to protect us.
Fast forward to today, and I sadly understand I cannot fully protect my family from harm. I can take all the precautions, and do all the checking and rechecking, but danger is lurking, at least now I am better equipped and know I must also pray.
I’m studying more about God and His character by reading the New Testament in a year. I am in the books of first and second Corinthians this month, and as I was reading, a typed note fell out. It was dated July 28th of last year, from my cousin Denny Pattyn. It was titled “why i exist”. His humility of typing that in lower case just makes me smile. To you, it might sound ominous, but Denny knew he was dying and was sharing Apostle Paul’s scripture as a way to push us to take new ground, act bolder, and remember whose we are.
“For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:3-5, Denny’s underlines).
Denny was such a great example of someone living each day to the fullest, wanting to do God’s work with every breath left in him. Of course, it was perfect timing for this year-old note to fall out as a reminder of how much Denny loved Jesus. He was confident that he was going to Heaven. Denny believed he would shed his tired, achy, tumor-filled body for a new, healthy one, just like Jesus.
You might recall that Denny and I were drafting final sermons for him to preach. Resurrection was a topic we discussed. We determined we needed to include it, because regardless of which denomination is followed, the Christian faith hinges on believing that our Lord was incarnate, walked on earth, and that after His brutal death on the cross, He appeared to at least six groups of people over 40 days, before His ascension into Heaven.
It is because of these eye-witness appearances that we know Christ rose from the dead, as He promised. We know that what He said is true and that He is God. The resurrection affirms the truthfulness of Jesus’ life and words. The resurrection confirms Jesus’ unique authority to say “I am the resurrection and the Life” (John 11:15). Because He rose, we have certainty that our sins are forgiven. Christ’s resurrection guaranteed both His promise to us and His authority to make that promise. We must take Him at His word and believe. (Paraphrased from 1 Corinthians 15:13-18 of Life Application Study Bible commentary). Another great source: Matthew Henry Commentary
*Readers, please ask yourself: Do I believe in Jesus’ resurrection? Do I believe God is victorious over Death? If so, then death is not the end – there is a future life!
As believers, we need to remember that WE ARE AT WAR. Not just with the society around us, but internally. We are broken people living in a broken world. There are fears, vices, and behaviors that are killing us, inside and out. We need to conquer whatever causes us to fall to evil, and to the evil one. Fortunately, we have access to better weapons and walkie-talkies to the Divine commander.
Want to give this a try? Think about what feels impossible to fix or resolve and boldly ask God to resurrect it, to give it a new birth, a second chance. Humbly admit that “your spirit is willing, but your flesh is weak” (Matthew 26:41). Ask Him to break you from the bondage of sin and to bring you to freedom, from death to eternal life, from pessimism to optimism.
Ask God: is there anything in my life that isn’t pleasing to You?
• Maybe fears of ____ (your death, bankruptcy, adultery, abandonment, health scare, death of a child, etc.) fill your thoughts, quickening your heartbeat and holding you back from living.
• Maybe vices and behaviors of____ (overeating, drinking, shopping, pornography, binge watching, secret sins, etc.) are numbing you and killing you one distraction at a time.
• Maybe unforgiven wrongs are eating away inside of you, allowing bitterness to grow and strangle current relationships that otherwise would flourish.
Hand these things over to God. Ask Him to break these strongholds.
Don’t worry, you aren’t alone. Trust that God is at your side and the Holy Spirit is inside, offering peace and comfort. Spend time with the Lord talking about these areas, repent of them as well as offer forgiveness and/or blessings to others. As you start acknowledging and repenting of these sins, you will start experiencing the Lord’s freedom. This is called the spiritual death and resurrection cycle. It’s the miracles that happen this side of Heaven. It might result in the mending of a relationship you thought would never be restored, the returning to faith, or the healing of a medical prognosis that was so dire that doctors don’t know what to say other than – it was God.
If you are struggling to determine your “things”, ask the Holy Spirit for discernment about your biggest fears:
“Search me, God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.” Psalm 139:23
I share these two memories — my fender bender and my too-quick 40-week friendship with Denny — as a reminder…of God stepping into my life and showing His love to me. In my research on why Jesus’ resurrection is important, I found this answer: Christ was raised from the dead so we know that the kingdom of Heaven has broken into earth’s history. Don’t you just love that? Jesus is how and why we are given glimpses of God in our everyday. Thank you, Heavenly Father for seeing me as sinless, beautiful, and worthy of Your love, because of Jesus. Amen.