See Luminosity

The 31st

The 31st

The 31st of March is Easter. And my birthday. And the day Dominic would have been 8 months old.

Kind of a lot for one date.

This Easter the concepts of life and death are just so very…poignant. The death of a son, the celebration of life, the redemption of suffering…

This 31st, this Easter, they are so close to home.

The 31st This Year

I’ve been dreading this birthday. 38 years. I don’t normally dread my birthdays; I’ve never had a problem with getting older. I’ve always looked forward to what the new year was going to bring – what things The Lord had in store for me.

But this year feels different. This year I’ve felt the magnitude of what can happen in a year. The death of a son. The death of a grandmother. The death of dreams.

I thought that by the time I was 38, I would have a large family. 4 kids, maybe, and 4 generations of relatives enjoying one another. Instead, I’m back down to two children, and my last remaining grandparent has passed away. That means the next generation to leave me will be my parents.

That makes you think about life and death in a new way.

For one, each year that passes takes me further away from my dream of having more children. A dream that has increased in intensity since losing Dominic. So, this year, my birthday doesn’t feel as much like a celebration of life as it does a marker of the life that has passed. The 31st. Another year older for me. The mark of a life cut short for my son.

It begs the question: How do you celebrate the life message of Easter, when what you are experiencing is the death?

How do you celebrate the resurrection, when what you feel like doing is engaging in an insurrection – against this life?

I think the answer can be found in Jesus’ own words.

The Truth, the Life, and the Resurrection

After his resurrection, Jesus appears to his disciples. He says, “While they were still talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, ‘Peace be with you.’…He said to them, ‘Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds?’” (Luke 24:36-38). John 20 recounts the story of Christ speaking directly with Thomas, who doubted that it was actually Christ, and that He was alive: “Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you!’ 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.” 28 Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!” 29 Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

Jesus spoke peace over the disciples. Peace because of what He had accomplished through the cross. Yet Thomas didn’t believe it. All he saw, all he had experienced, was the death. Christ had Thomas touch his hands and feel the nail holes to assuage his doubts. To prove that what Thomas thought he knew – death – wasn’t the truth.

He was the Truth. And the Truth was alive.

Jesus also said, “I am the…truth and the life” (John 14:6) and “I am the resurrection and the life.”. Not the truth you think you experience. Not the death you see. Me.

How do we experience resurrection – life – when all we see or know is death? By believing Him. By believing that He really is defeating death with life. Every moment. For us.

Many days, even days as I have approached Easter, I have doubted, like Thomas. I’ve wanted to scream that all I see is the death – “Where is the resurrection?!?!” I have wanted proof from Him. Proof that He was still here, still with me, still working and caring and bringing life out of death. We know the Easter story and we may accept on some theoretical level that Christ died and rose again, but none of it really has any power until we believe it in our own lives. Until we live as if He is, actively, bringing life out of death. Until we allow Him to help us see how He is bringing life out of death.

It is a lesson He is teaching me. That He is making real for me this Easter.

I struggle every day to believe it. To know, without putting my hands in the nail holes, that He is still working good out of whatever mess I’m currently in. That He is, right now, redeeming the death of the moment into new life. I get caught up in the 31sts and the anniversary of the deaths. Another year older. No baby. No grandmother. So much suffering. And, like Thomas, I say, “I’m not going to believe unless I have some kind of proof.”

And then I hear His voice. “Peace, Rebecca. Why do you doubt? Stop doubting and believe. I am the Truth. I am the resurrection. Believe me, and you will experience both.”

Life Out of Death For Me

So I watch. Each day. For the ways that He brings resurrection out of death. The death of my son and my grandmother and two friends’ babies. But also the deaths of marital problems and financial challenges and concerns over children’s discipline. Those little daily deaths that pile up and convince us that the resurrection is just a nice story from two thousand years ago, but that the reality – our reality – is death.

But it’s not. Because He is the Truth. And the Life. And as I watch, I see it. Ways that He brings good out of the bad. How He brings life out of death, in the most unbelievable of ways.

One example? My grandmother passed away this week – the week that our church performed its Easter pageant. Except this wasn’t just any Easter pageant. It happened to be a pageant honoring…my grandmother. My father writes the script for the pageant each year, and this year the script included a side story about a faith-filled elderly woman, who was based on the life of my Mimi. The elderly woman in the drama shares her faith with her wayward granddaughter, which leads to the unfolding drama of the Christ story. When my father wrote the script, two years ago, my Mimi was alive and well.

Jesus called my Mimi home the very week that we performed a dramatic presentation of the Easter message – the message she lived out in her own life – through a script written two years ago to honor her.

My father has shared, at each pageant performance, that the script was based on my Mimi, and that she passed away this week. The impact of the drama honoring her, the very week of her death, alongside the dramatic presentation of the passion of Christ, has touched the lives of many people that have not known the Lord.

Life out of death.

When I go through the 31st, and I start feeling like all I am experiencing is death, I am going to choose to believe. To believe that He is the Truth and the Life and the Resurrection. And that He continues to work all of those out of every death – every bad moment –  I experience.

With His Truth, and His Life, I should even be able to have peace –

Even on the 31st.

 

 

 

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