My husband took me to Israel for our honeymoon. Having lived there he planned our trip, drove the car and arranged for a truly once in a lifetime journey.
We spent the first half of our time exploring Caesarea, The Sea of Galilee and the northern part of the country near the Syrian and Lebanon border.
I shed tears on the Mount Of Beatitudes, marveled at the ruins of Capernaum where Jesus had lived, explored fortresses, gobbled up all of the hummus and pita, read Scripture and talked about Jesus for hours on end with my man.
We sipped fancy and expensive coffee at a mountain top cafe with other tourists far less disturbed by the sound of bombs rocking the earth, shattering cities and lives just over the horizon in Syria, dark plumes of smoke rising skyward.. Damascus, we were told, under attack. How paradoxical and soul shattering to drink espresso on vacation with a warzone as the backdrop.
When we arrived in Jerusalem a week into our trip I was brimming with awe and gratitude. I rushed Heath to settle into the hotel, practically begging him to take me to the Old City before sunset. Walking through the Jaffa gate, the fortified stone walls rising up to the sky, like protective, warrior arms lifted in defense, my heart expanded in my chest: I was in Jerusalem!
The elation, joy and profound sense of God’s sovereignty was overwhelming: here I was with this man strategically placed before me by our God, in His Holy City on a spiritual quest celebrating our covenant with Him. He is so good!
“Take me to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.” Or perhaps my husband suggested we go, he said something about going about the tour of the city out of order, but I didn’t care. I wanted to see, to walk through this place believed to be where He was crucified and buried.
Entering the church through the massive, thick doors made of wood, steel and stone took my breath away.
Just feet from the door lay the Anointing Stone, the slab of marble where Jesus’s body was prepared for burial after His crucifixion. Dozens of men and women knelt before the stone, praying, touching the stone, tears streaming down cheeks as their bodies rocked back and forth wrought with weeping.
I dropped my husband’s hand and walked to the slab, falling to my knees. In this moment the weight of my life, all that had been done to me and all that I had done bubbled from the pit of my stomach, like cold water pressing through my veins like ice, the pressure releasing from my tear ducts at the thought of His brutalizing torture and death.
My hands on the stone, the cold floor under my knees, I joined the throng of broken worshipers, my body shocked by the sheer power of this holy site.
And suddenly, the Spirit poured over me, filling me with warmth, dismantling the heaviness of the crucifixion and the salty tears ceased to run down my cheeks as I turned and looked up to my husband, smiling and said: “But He’s ALIVE! He didn’t stay dead!”
And just as quickly as I had fallen, the Spirit of God commanded me to stand and rejoice in His resurrection, leaving the weight of death behind.
There have been many pivotal moments in my faith walk but a handful truly stick out, offering lines of demarcation, revelation upon which I cannot go back to the old ways. These are moments when He breaks the box I put Him in and reminds me that He is the GREAT I AM, that He cannot be minimized, or shrunken down to fit into my smaller than mustard seed faith.
This moment on the floor of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher was the most rattling of revelations.
It seems there are two kinds of Gospel preachers, those whose hearts are still on the floor, weeping over the stone slab, caught up in the horror, disbelief and gratitude of the crucifixion and those who arose from the grief to recognize He is risen, mightily aware of the debt paid but looking past the shadow of the cross to the stone rolled away.
I was a crucifixion woman, carrying my sin and shame around with me everywhere, trying hard to not forget what it had cost my Jesus, lest I become proud, or ungrateful. Bitter roots still nestled into my heart as I struggled with offering up of my full self to Him, not quite grasping a grace laden life but desperate to act the part.
But on the floor, inside that ancient church, Jesus lifted my chin and told me to stand, proclaimed His risen life in me and I left that identity of a crucifixion Gospel preacher dead on that slab and took up my new name in His eternal life.
I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God who gave Himself for me. Galatians 2:20
This verse is my life verse.
No longer would I live in the death, toiling around in my anguish and regret for what my sin had cost such a loving incarnate God but celebrate the newness, the promises He spoke over me that day in Jerusalem. His love made the way, brought me to life, reconciled my heart to my Creator.
I believe that when Paul wrote about working out our salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12), he was partly referring to living in the resurrection, the life giving aspect of the Gospel, fighting to believe it like a soldier. It is no easy task to live post crucifixion; there are moments in each day I have to remind myself Who it is I belong to, that I am not a mess too big for His mercy, grace and life and that my role in this story is to accept the gift of His love, walking in freedom.
How frail my belief, how short my memory and fickle my faith! The truth is so easy to forget.
Living in resurrection is setting aside my needs in order to serve my husband and family with a joyful heart, delighting in loving submission, honoring my covenant relationships. It means holding my tongue in my mouth when my flesh calls for my version of justice, squirming to be right, to be heard, to be loud, to defend.
Resurrected life is saying I am sorry, asking for forgiveness, admitting when I am wrong, is praying diligently, asking for help, revealing weakness and yielding to correction, admonishment, as well as encouragement and seeking His kingdom moment by moment.
Living in resurrection is pulling myself off the floor, recognizing that my tears and anguish stem from a place of prideful victimhood and seeing the truth despite my feelings.
The risen life levels the playing field and allows me to see others as God does, helps me to witness the light of Christ in each set of eyes I meet. This born again life is knowing we are all one in His body, His story, that He has His hand on each life haplessly roaming the earth.
The resurrection holds space for repentance each day, that I would lay down the disintegrated parts of myself, the brokenness and sin at the foot of the cross and receive the forgiveness He promises. The gift of His love making me tender as He reintegrates my heart, soul, mind and strength.
He woke me that afternoon in Jerusalem, though my faith in Him had been sealed long ago, His breath brought me to full life, a whisper that there is so much more to this faith.
He called me daughter, asked me to rise, to celebrate, to testify with my life the gifts bestowed upon me, longing to show me how to receive His love. Though I often suffer from short term memory loss, His Spirit sings within me, bringing me back to what is real when my heart begins to wander.
The resurrection allows me to break the shackles of fear and run freely and with abandon the race set before me and I am learning to love the run.