“Death is not the greatest loss in life. The greatest is loss in life is what die inside of us while we live. (Norman Cousins)."
by Hayne Steen, MAMFT
Death is a reality that we are well acquainted with. The truth is that we spend billions as a culture attempting to deny its reality. The anti-aging industry is an 88 billion dollar industry alone (Chicago Tribune, 2010). "Arlene Weintraub, a former senior health writer at Bloomberg Businessweek, explores the subject in her new book, "Selling the Fountain of Youth: How the Anti-Aging Industry Made a Disease Out of Getting Old — and Made Billions."
We do not like death. But we absolutely love resurrection. Reality television has picked up the anti-aging baton and carried it exhaustively into several arenas. "Extreme Makeovers" have ruled the airwaves and have crushed the ratings game for nearly a decade. Different versions of this same idea continue to emerge shining light on massive weight loss to cleaning up the home of a loved one who hoards to brand new homes built where a trash heap once stood. Regardless of the niche focus, we are infatuated with this idea of "resurrection." We love to see something that was lost be recovered. This, in many broken and beautiful ways, all points to something called "the resurrection principle." Not everything that is dead stays that way forever. Can new life can spring up through the ashes of death and decay? Yes, but how?
"Some skeptic is sure to ask, “Show me how resurrection works. Give me a diagram; draw me a picture. What does this ‘resurrection body’ look like?” If you look at this question closely, you realize how absurd it is. There are no diagrams for this kind of thing. We do have a parallel experience in gardening. You plant a “dead” seed; soon there is a flourishing plant. There is no visual likeness between seed and plant. You could never guess what a tomato would look like by looking at a tomato seed. What we plant in the soil and what grows out of it don’t look anything alike. The dead body that we bury in the ground and the resurrection body that comes from it will be dramatically different." (1 Corinthians 15:35-58, The Message)
Our counseling office is actually located in a building that reflects this same "resurrection principle." "At the time of the founding of the Southern Saddlery company, and for many years thereafter, transportation and agriculture were dependent on the horse or mule. Southern Saddlery was ready to meet the demand, with hand-crafted saddles, collars, and other riding equipment. When automobiles became available, the company supplied leather fan belts. When the Great Depression caused families to be unable to afford the purchase or upkeep of cars, some returned to the horse or mule, and Southern maintained a steady business in saddles. (The Chattanoogan)." The space was eventually just used for storage for an extended season and then it went up on the auction block. Years later it was purchased, renovated and 7 years ago we established a counseling practice in this space which by design continues to serve as an invitation (to ourselves and our clients) to engage on daily basis in this "resurrection principle." There are things inside every person that run the risk of dying. The distressful things that bring us into counseling are often the very same experiences that can launch us into our own experience of resurrection. Admitting that something is dying or has died is a vulnerable place to be. But vulnerability is the birthplace of change, innovation and transformation...and resurrection. Whether we are describing an abandoned building, an old home, a struggling marriage, messy personal finances, or a broken friendship or business partnership - these are all opportunities for seeing the resurrection principle at work.
We have celebrated more than a "principle of resurrection" this weekend. Rather we have worshipped the Author of it. It is more than just a phenomenon. God has woven resurrection into the very tapestry of His unfolding story we are apart of. On Friday, death. By Sunday, life. My hope is that you would sense this Easter Hope welling up within you. That you would know you were not meant for ashes but for rising up through it.
Here's the bottom line. You are God's beloved. He longs for you to know how dearly loved you are. Yes, you are worth dying for. But even more...you are worth coming back for. Like Brennan manning says, "He is crazy about you and longs to hear the sound of your voice and be in your company." You are not alone. God. Is. Alive.
"This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It’s adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike “What’s next, Papa?” God’s Spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are. We know who he is, and we know who we are: Father and children. And we know we are going to get what’s coming to us—an unbelievable inheritance! We go through exactly what Christ goes through. If we go through the hard times with him, then we’re certainly going to go through the good times with him!" (Romans 8:15, The Message)