Graves into Gardens
I really wish I could draw. I have an image in my mind that is helping me to process a spiritual truth the Lord is speaking to my heart and I'd love to share it with you. But alas...my stick figure drawings will not do so I will attempt to paint the picture with my words.
I imagine myself in some sort of dome - something akin to a snow globe but bigger and better. In this analogy the dome represents God's will. When we are living withing God's will, we are living in a place that breeds life. Not only does this "dome" protect us from many sorrows and effects of sin, the hardships and heartaches that are allowed to fall are all transformed - each and every one of them. When we are in God's will we are in Christ and everything that is buried in Christ is raised in Christ. The cancer is raised, the infertility is raised, the past addiction is raised. I imagine these heartaches falling on and around us like seeds. They are buried in the dirt only to surprise us by growing up large and leafy and full of life. Do you see? When we abide in Him we can truly say that "all things work together for good" because in Christ all things become life-bearing seeds. I have personally witnessed this phenomenon. The most tragic year of my life miraculously yielded a much-prayed-for harvest of peace in my heart and mind. Praise God!
But say we have been living in this magical place for a long time, and we have started to take life and light for granted and we have become increasingly intrigued by darkness. (Why else would we be fascinated with crime shows and addicted to stories about infidelity etc.?) So we look and look and look through the dome's translucent walls and one day looking turns to loving and loving turns to worship and we decide to open up a door and walk through - thus stepping outside of God's will. (If you have ever done this than you know it is a terrifying step to take for once your are outside God's will you are no longer in a place where death is raised - you are no longer walking in a garden - you are walking amongst graves.) Perhaps you only meant to make a short visit but sin easily entangles and death wears such pretty costumes and maybe when you opened that door, you inadvertently opened your house and now all sorts of dark things are settling in and starting to mess with your kids and so you panic and backpedal and ask for mercy. I don't know who said the following quote but it rings true, "We never find in sin what we go into sin to find."
These are scary, sobering thoughts and I am glad to be thinking them because, if I'm being honest, I have not been taking sin seriously enough. God, in His mercy, has used several testimonies I heard recently, in addition to my own experiences, to reawaken me to the dangers of stepping outside of His will and to the beautiful opportunity we have to abide in His love. I mean, think about it? Can there be a better place to live than in Christ? He is reconciling to Himself ALL THINGS! Even the blood and tears we earn through our folly - even these are redeemed when they fall on that fertile soil found in His presence.
So friend, if you are messing around with things outside of God's will - I urge you to repent and come home. And if you have been living your life in a world where dead things stay dead, I want to invite you to meet my Jesus. He is making everything sad come untrue one resurrection at a time.
Lord, you have been our dwelling place throughout all generations.
As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love.
We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,
For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.