A Resurrection Story

John 11:25-26 (MSG)

 

“You don’t have to wait for the End. I am, right now, Resurrection and Life. The one who believes in me, even though he or she dies, will live. And everyone who lives believing in me does not ultimately die at all. Do you believe this?”

 

I am, right now, Resurrection and Life.

 

Do I believe this?

 

A few months ago, my mom had suggested using this verse for a Lectio Divina group that we were facilitating. I glanced at the verse. Nope. Definitely not. This verse made me very, very nervous.

 

As soon as I nixed the verse for our group time, I knew that I needed to return and spend some extra time with it. Why was I nervous?

 

What in me resists these words? Maybe it is the word “believe.” Maybe it is Jesus’ I AM statement. Maybe I felt pressure to figure out the whats and abouts and hows of belief in Jesus. The pressure for everything to make sense in my head and in my heart was too much.

 

I read through the verse again, taking time to sit with it for a while. The phrase: “I am, right now, Resurrection and Life” resonated in my heart.

 

Resurrection. Life. Right now. This is happening.

 

Resurrection: Going from death and a dying existence to a new, waking up, Real Life. That is happening in me right now.

 

I used to be afraid of dying not because I was afraid of what comes after death, but because I was sure that I had not lived the life I was meant to live. God seemed distant. I felt like I was surviving rather than living, barely making it from one moment to the next. I was exhausted in soul and body. I frequently thought: “I really hope that today is not my last day, I know I’m not even close to where I am supposed to be.”

 

Maybe Jesus calls to the dying and the already dead in spirit: Wake Up!

 

I’ve felt that call.

 

Maybe Jesus calls to the barely living: Die to the false selves you are holding on to. Let go of the shoulds. Let go of who you think you are supposed to be. There is new life, Real Life waiting for you now.

 

God breathes new Life. He calls to our souls: Wake Up! Come Forth. Live.

 

Somehow this is all happening in me.   Maybe I shouldn’t be afraid of the hows.

 

Resurrection. Is that like being born again? Somehow, some of us made being born again into a decision that we make for Jesus. Like we have control in that matter. Even though Jesus said, “Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.'” (John 3: 5-8 NIV.)

 

Frederick Buechner explains of these verses: “The implication seems to be that the kind of rebirth he has in mind is (a) elusive and mysterious and (b) entirely God’s doing. There’s no telling when it will happen or to whom.”[i]

 

I grew up at church. I was a sincere and earnest “believer” from my earliest memories. I asked Jesus to live in my heart when I was five. I still remember the moment clearly. I am thankful for my experiences and for the faith that was handed to me. But in my mid-thirties, I still needed to be born again. I even needed to die to my earlier experience and understanding of faith and God and Jesus. I needed to die to roles that I had assumed that were no longer mine to play. I have a feeling that I will need to be born again and perhaps again and again.

 

I don’t think I was born again when I was five. I was just learning to see with my first set of eyes. I know that it didn’t happen through a magic prayer or song. Words can’t get you there, even if they are from a sincere heart. Being born again didn’t mark the beginning of faith. I actually needed saving from the faith that I had grown into. Decisions, prayers, and faith may be part of the process of drawing us toward God, but they are not necessarily the beginning and certainly not the end of this new, waking-up, Real Life that is being born again.

 

This is frustrating for those of us who would like a map or a plan or some measure of control over our destinies. Can’t I just say a prayer and get on with it? What are the steps that I need to take to make this born-again thing happen?

 

Unlike the memory I have of asking Jesus to live in my heart, I cannot pinpoint a time and place where I was “born again.” All I know is that it is happening. Maybe we are left without a formula because–as history and religion proves–if we think there is a formula, we will try to control and manipulate it. New life emerged when I stopped clinging to the formula.

 

What is my part? I think it is mostly surrendering, letting go, and learning to trust. I started to experience the moreness, vastness, and nearness of God when I surrendered to my unknowingness, crying out to God “Here I am! Are you even there? I don’t know anything.”

 

This unknowing, unraveling, and unlearning somehow opened up my heart to a deep and rich experience of God.

 

New life emerged in the space created by letting go of much of my doing. I needed a time of rest, deep rest.

 

New life emerged as I entered into Quiet and learned how to Listen. We get to Listen! This is amazing.

 

Most of all, new life, Real, wide-awake life has been emerging in my heart gradually as God’s love has become real to me and I learn to trust that love.

 

“In repentance and rest is your salvation; in quietness and trust is your strength.” Isaiah 30:15. This isn’t a formula, but it is true. The first time that I saw this verse, I recognized my story. This is happening.

 

I know that getting to the point of surrender is a gift. I’m still surrendering. I’m still letting go and just starting to understand what it means to trust. I’m being remade, and I’m so very thankful. Maybe I am catching glimpses of this kingdom of God that Jesus spoke about. This is a gift that I am convinced is available to any person. (I’m not convinced of very many things.)

 

I know that I am a resurrection story. My story looks a little bit like these words from Isaiah 42:

 

I the Lord, have called you in righteousness; I will take hold of your hand. . . . I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth.”

 

This is happening. New Life is happening. Resurrection and Life are happening. Right now.

 

What is your resurrection story?

 

 

© J.L. Sanborn, 2015. All Rights Reserved.

 

 

Hi. I’m Jessica and I am so thankful to take part in Janet’s blogging adventures. I am the mother of 3 little-ish people and wife to a great guy. I met Janet almost 2 years ago and am so thankful for that life-changing, life-giving encounter. I used to do lawyer things, and now I get to play queen with my daughter when I’m not transporting my kids to school. I share some of my musings about faith and becoming at jlsanborn.wordpress.com.

 

 

 

[i] Frederick Buechner, Listening to Your Life, p. 243 (Harper San Francisco 1992) .

 

Advertisements