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Resurrection Ground: Your Sunday’s Coming

Resurrection Ground: Raised from the Depths of the Earth

Are you experiencing a death of sorts this Easter? It could be the death of physical abilities, whether through illness, aging, or disability. The death of dreams. The death of a relationship. The death of an income source. The death of a career you thought you’d always have.

You feel lost, disoriented … grieved … confused … displaced … bewildered … sad. The enemy is seizing upon your circumstances to rob you of all hope. And he’s on the verge of causing you to become totally despondent and disillusioned with God.

You’re not the only one. As I mentioned in the previous post, the past nine years have been a series of deaths for me — death upon death. Just when I thought things couldn’t get any worse, they did. Unbelievably worse.

I never imagined ten years ago that my life would be what it is today, or rather, what it is not. I envisioned something better. I’ve passed through waves of sadness, frustration, anger, grief, hopelessness, and despondence. The enemy uses each new loss to try to get me to give up completely.

Perfect Timing

This is an odd Easter topic….

But then again … is it really?

I mean after all, here we are, having just come through good Friday, the day that marks the crucifixion … the day Satan thought he had succeeded in terminating God’s plan of redemption. The disciples, if they considered strictly the appearance of the circumstances that day, would have felt waves of emotion similar to what you and I are feeling. It all must have looked hopeless. Pointless. God seemed powerless. Confusion and defeat threatened to rule the day.

In our ‘death,’ we, too, feel that God’s plan—that His best for us—has been terminated. Because, after all, our plan—what we thought was going to happen—has been terminated. Naturally we blame God for this and accuse Him of failing us. He has not failed us, though. The problem is that we’ve been misinformed. We’ve been unaware of what His real plan has been all along. He is bringing His plan to fruition (not ours, mind you). And it’s a good plan. Better than any plan of ours could ever be! We just haven’t reached resurrection day yet when the whole picture becomes clear.

Yes, today is the perfect time for such a topic.

I’ve battled writing this post. It seems grossly narcissistic to be focusing on us, not Jesus, on this glorious occasion. But after praying about it several days, I feel Jesus has a revelation of Himself that He wants to give you today. He wants to impart His resurrection power and bring you into the rapturous fellowship—the Divine exchange—of His cross.

Following Jesus…

 “Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me” (John 12:26).

Imagine — Jesus spoke these words only a matter of days, even hours, before His crucifixion!

“Whoever serves me must follow me …” 

Where was Jesus going that He wanted us to follow Him? …

To the cross.

Wow! We often claim we want to serve Him—that we want to follow Him—and we do … just not to the cross.

Like the crowds and Jesus’ disciples, we want to experience His miracles and be fed by Him—but just how far are we willing to follow Him? To the cross? Remember — Jesus said, “Where I am, my servant also will be.” 

To The Cross…

If we’re following Jesus, we’ll find ourselves on a cross of some sort. Flesh crucified … human strategies rendered useless … personal strengths evaporated … expectations obliterated … days permeated with pain.

Does this sound familiar? If I asked you to fill in a few blanks of the things that could be crucified on a cross, you’d have a long list in no time. You’re all too familiar with crosses and losses.

This is good news! It actually is! Why? Because you don’t have to dread the cross. You’re already on it. There’s no need to fear what you might have to endure there.

All that’s left for you to do is to accept God’s good plan and His loving reasons for nailing these particular areas of your life to the cross. You simply need to be willing to enter the fellowship of the cross. (Fellowship implies communion, sharing—a two-way exchange, where God receives something from you and you receive something from Him. So there’s gain for you in this, not just loss… but more on that in a moment.)

Yield your will to God’s. Let go of everything you’re clinging to more tightly than Him. Have the attitude of Blaise Paschal who said:

Take from me, O Lord, that self-pity which love of myself so readily produces, and from that frustration of not succeeding in the world as I would naturally desire, for these have no regard for your glory… Let me no longer wish for health or life, but to spend it and end it for you, with you, and in you… Rather I pray that you will dispose of my health, my sickness, my life, and my death as for your glory, for my salvation, for the usefulness to your church and your saints…You are the Sovereign Master. Do whatever pleases you. Give me or take away from me. Conform my will to yours…” ~ Blaise Pascal [1]

Taking up our cross and following Jesus isn’t always easy. And in today’s prosperity focused, success-oriented American Church, it certainly isn’t popular. But God relates to us on resurrection ground, and this ground always includes the cross.

We want resurrection power—but only if we can bypass the cross. It just will not happen that way…

If we want to experience resurrection power in our lives, we cannot bypass the cross. For it’s through the cross that resurrection power comes. If things don’t die, there’s no need for them to be resurrected. We can’t experience a resurrection without first having experienced a death.

I’ll say it again—resurrection ground always includes the cross. There’s no way around it.

Resurrection Ground

Do you want to have God’s resurrection power on your life, your family, your career, your desires, your days, your service to the kingdom? …

Then you’re on the right track! You can take heart and rejoice. You’re on resurrection ground here at the cross!

To Resurrection Ground

And there’s more good news! After the cross comes resurrection! You and I get to experience the same power that raised Christ Jesus from the dead! That’s incomprehensible! We’re talking indescribable superpower here! Chain-breaking, immeasurable, explosive force! And love, joy and peace unexplainable!

Resurrection power means we humans get to experience an opening in the barrier between earth and heaven, between the temporal and eternal, the natural and the supernatural. We get to see beyond this realm, get to experience being filled with supernatural strength, get to walk in the shoes of the Son of God, have our land-locked bodies lifted by Divine arms and our near-sighted vision extended to peer into the end of time.

“Net gain” doesn’t even come close to calculating the total dividend of your cross experience. It’s a win that diminishes all earthly wins down to near invisibility!

One With Christ

Suffering can lead to an intimate encounter with Christ, depending on our response. The New Testament describes this encounter in 2 Corinthians 1:5:

Just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows. (NIV)

Joni E. Tada words the encounter this way: “Jesus becomes one with us in our sufferings. He takes on our flesh and we take on His holiness.”

Resurrection Ground: Raised from the Depths of the Earth

Hebrews 12:10-11 also describes this:

Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. (NIV)

Jesus takes on our flesh; we take on His holiness—His resurrection power. It’s an intimate encounter.

When our trials hoist us upon the cross, we have a choice to be defiant, or to surrender and let His resurrection power fill us. There’s no greater or more glorious privilege than the latter. Frail flesh exchanged for His eternal, mighty Spirit! What a priceless gift—an intimate experience of Christ that nothing can rival.

To Know Him

The apostle Paul said,

I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ… I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death”  (Philippians 3:8, 10 NIV).

The word for “know” in the original language indicates personal knowledge—not simply an intellectual awareness of facts. The word is used elsewhere in the Bible to indicate sexual intercourse. It means the most intimate experience of another person—in this case, Christ.

Paul’s desire is to know Christ intimately, experientially—not to just know about Him. What is the context of this experience? It’s sharing in Christ’s sufferings, being transformed into His likeness … and experiencing His resurrection power.

How does Paul describe the value of this experience? The Amplified Classic Bible expounds further:

“I count everything as loss compared to the possession of the priceless privilege (the overwhelming preciousness, the surpassing worth, and supreme advantage) of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord and of progressively becoming more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him…” (v. 8, AMPC, emphasis added).

Cleary, if experiencing Christ is overwhelmingly precious, a priceless privilege of surpassing worth—then the spiritual returns alone are worth becoming like Him in His death!

Nothing this world has to offer can compare to knowing Jesus more intimately! Better is one day in His courts, no matter what cross ushers us there! It’s better to experience Him amid loss than to be without Him in a life of ease.

It’s so worth it… and this is taking into account only the spiritual returns. At times, God grants us physical resurrections as well—a tangible turnaround in our situation…

Same but Different

I’ve been through one major ‘death’ of self in my life, such that I emerged a different person. I went into my early 20’s one person, and emerged a decade later as someone else entirely. God chose to crucify many aspects of my life, and health, and abilities, and desires, and even my personality. But the resurrection God had in store—God’s plan A for my life—exceeded anything I could have ever imagined.

When you emerge from your tomb, you may look or feel different. You may be unrecognizable to others, as Jesus was on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-32). You may emerge with scars like those in Jesus’ hands—with internal or external reminders of what God brought you through. Or like Jacob, you may walk with a limp after your encounter with God. But you’ll cherish the reminder of your frailty and how God transformed your character during the long night of wrestling. (Gen. 32:25,31)

You may emerge a little tweaked, but God will bring you through this. He will!

Just hold on a little while longer! It’s Friday … but Sunday’s coming! 

Resurrection Promises

In the past decade of my crosses and losses, God has given me several personal promises. He has shown me the end from the beginning. And let me tell you—resurrection is coming! I don’t know who I’ll emerge as this time (LOL! Life’s always an adventure with God!), and I don’t know the details of God’s plan, but I know He has promised to raise me up from the depths of the earth, to increase my honor and comfort me on every side.

The following are some of the personal promises God has spoken to me in my most recent season of death. I believe they will encourage you, too!

Micah 7

“But as for me, I watch in hope for the LORD, I wait for God my Savior; my God will hear me. Do not goat over me, my enemy! Though I have fallen, I will rise. Though I sit in darkness, the LORD will be my light” (Micah 7:7-8, NIV).

I love the everyday wording of this passage in The Message:

Don’t, enemy, crow over me.
I’m down, but I’m not out.
I’m sitting in the dark right now,
but God is my light….
He’s on my side
and is going to get me out of this.

He’ll turn on the lights and show me his ways.
I’ll see the whole picture and how right he is.
And my enemy will see it, too,
and be discredited—yes, disgraced!
This enemy who kept taunting,
“So where is this God of yours?”
I’m going to see it with these, my own eyes—
my enemy disgraced, trash in the gutter.
Oh, that will be a day! A day for rebuilding your city,
a day for stretching your arms, spreading your wings! (vv. 7-11)

Beloved, you may be down—dead and buried far underground—but you’re not out! Tell the enemy not to crow over you! You may be in a dark tomb right now, but God Himself is your light! He’s on your side and is going to get you out of this! When He does, you’ll see the whole picture, and how right and wise God was to have allowed every loss you endured.

“Yes,” replies the Lord, “I will do mighty miracles for you, like those when I brought you out of slavery in Egypt (v. 15, TLB).

Psalm 71

I shared during Pursuit 21 how God has been speaking to me from this passage. It began by Him using verse nine to address my health setback, addressing specifically my weakness and lack of strength. The Psalmist cries out to God, “Forsake me not when my strength is spent and my powers fail” (v. 9, AMPC). Then assured of God’s faithful response, he confidently declares:

16I will come in the strength and with the mighty acts of the Lord God; I will mention and praise Your righteousness, even Yours alone. (AMPC)

That has become my constant declaration throughout the day—“I will come in the strength and with the mighty acts of the Lord God; I will mention and praise Your righteousness, even Yours alone.” (Since faith treats the future as past tense, because it is past tense with God, I often declare, “I have come in the strength and with Your mighty acts, God.)

Verse 20 is the resurrection promise of this passage:

Though you have made me see troubles, many and bitter, you will restore my life again; from the depths of the earth you will again bring me up. You will increase my honor and comfort me once more. (vv. 20-21 NIV)

Did you catch that? From “the depths of the earth,” as in “even from a grave six feet under” you will again bring me up!

“Again.”

Beloved, like me, you may have already experienced one major resurrection in your life. But that does not preclude God from raising you up from the depths of the earth yet again! He can… and He will!

Resurrection Ground: Raised from the Depths of the Earth

Ezekiel 37

In 2011, after a health setback from a busy schedule and chronic lack of funds for medication, something in me became broken overnight. Cognitively I was not the same. It took several times longer to accomplish the same work and ministry tasks. My memory, verbal fluency, drive… all changed overnight and worsened month by month. Not to mention energy loss. As months passed, I felt increasingly like Humpty Dumpty. I had fallen and needed someone to put me back together again.

It was affecting God’s ministry through me, but what troubled me the most was that I was not the same person spiritually. I’d lost the passion for the Word and prayer I once possessed, and lost energy to pray fervently. Numb inside. Limp outside. I just wasn’t me.

These things had only worsened a year later. Every few minutes, it seemed, I found myself asking God to please put me back together.

Then one day I was reading in Ezekiel… and boom! There it was! There I was. On the page. In black and white. Bones dry and scattered.

The Spirit of the Lord … set me in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. 2 He led me back and forth among them, and I saw a great many bones on the floor of the valley, bones that were very dry….

5 This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life. 6 I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the Lord.’”

7 So I prophesied as I was commanded. And as I was prophesying, there was a noise, a rattling sound, and the bones came together, bone to bone. 8 I looked, and tendons and flesh appeared on them and skin covered them…

9 Then he said to me, “Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to it, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Come, breath, from the four winds and breathe into these slain, that they may live.’” 10 So I prophesied as he commanded me, and breath entered them; they came to life and stood up on their feet—a vast army.

11 Then he said to me: “Son of man, these bones are the people of Israel. They say, ‘Our bones are dried up and our hope is gone; we are cut off.’ 12 Therefore prophesy and say to them: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: My people, I am going to open your graves and bring you up from them….14 I will put my Spirit in you and you will live….

I just thought I was broken and in need of mending. That was before my Dad’s Alzheimer’s, Mom’s surgeries, and taking on 24/7 caregiving duties while at the same time losing helpers here at Shades of Grace. And it was before losing even more funds in the years to come and the most basic of medical treatments that I had been able to remain on.

My dry bones have since been treated to a few trips to the crematorium—they’re now ground to fine ash!

But this is not surprising. Promises from God undergo a death sentence. Every human means of fulfillment is sentenced to death. Things worsen and circumstances contradict what God said He would do. This is the “fight of faith” that I talked about in Faith for the Supernatural. It’s the phase I’ve been in during the years since God spoke this passage to me.

But I pray this passage and wage warfare with these promises every day, believing fully that God will do what He said He would do.

Your bones may be dead and buried like mine—they may even be ground to fine ash—but God can put ash back together, cell by cell, bone by bone. He will raise us on our feet mighty warriors for His kingdom! Our hope is not gone. He will open our graves and bring us up from them. He will put His Spirit in us and we will live!

Resurrection Ground

Proverbs 23:18

Surely you have a wonderful future ahead of you. There is hope for you yet! (TLB)

This verse echoes Ezekiel 37:11 above, especially in the NIV translation.

“There is surely a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off.” (NIV)

Don’t buy the enemy’s lie! Your life is not over! There is no reason to give up! Your hope is not cut off! You have a wonderful future ahead of you! There is hope for you yet!! It does not matter how things appear … how weary you are … how long your situation has remain unchanged … or what someone else has said about your condition. There is surely a future hope for you! 

Psalm 57:1-2

I will cry to God Most High, Who performs on my behalf and rewards me [Who brings to pass His purposes for me and surely completes them]!” (AMPC)

Your current death and burial will not keep God from fulfilling His purpose for your life.

God’s not done writing your story. You’re not history! The best is not behind you. Don’t let the devil convince you otherwise!

God will fulfill every purpose for which He created you! And you know what, your current cross is part of the way He’s going to accomplish it. It’s a good thing, a necessary step to God’s wonderful future for you.

Psalm 119:154

Take my side and get me out of this; give me back my life just as you promised. (MSG)

“Give me back my life” implies a loss of my life, right? Resurrect me, God, and give me back my life … just as you promised. 

Ah… there it is. The mention of “promise.”

“A promise from God is a surer thing than a
post-dated check from a millionaire.”

— John Phillips

Just Be Patient. Do Not Despair!

God spoke some of these promises to me several years ago, and some as recent as last year. His fulfillment may seem slow compared to my preferred timing, but He is never late. At times, I sure wish He would hurry up … yet His timing is perfect.

These things I plan won’t happen right away. Slowly, steadily, surely, the time approaches when the vision will be fulfilled. If it seems slow, do not despair, for these things will surely come to pass. Just be patient! They will not be overdue a single day! (Habakkuk 2:2-3, TLB)

If it’s dark, damp, and cramped in your tomb, and resurrection Sunday seems painfully slow arriving, just be patient. Do not despair! Wait expectantly for God. His answer will not be overdue a single day!

In the mean time, savor the opportunity to experience Christ. Rejoice that you’re privileged to share in His sufferings and receive His resurrection power! Get caught up in the surpassing worth of knowing Him. And before you know it, it’ll be sunrise Sunday morning!

Questions:

  • In what areas of your life are you experiencing a death of sorts? How has it made you feel? Are you letting the enemy seize upon your circumstances and rob you of hope?
  • Like the crowds and Jesus’ disciples, do you want to experience Jesus’ miracles and be fed by Him — but you’re not willing to follow Him to the cross? 
  • What areas of your life would you like to be touched by God’s resurrection power? Has it occurred to you that resurrection ground always includes the cross? That if things don’t die, there’s no need for them to be resurrected? That you can’t experience a resurrection without first having experienced a death? So in other words, did you know you’re on the right track?
  • Are you clinging to the things you’ve lost more than you are to a new, intimate experience of Christ? Is it making you bitter and resentful toward God? Or have you properly assessed your situation and realized that experiencing Christ is a priceless privilege that surpasses any temporal gain?
  • Are you content to know about Christ—or do you want to experience Him in the most personal, intimate way? What can you do today that would facilitate a deeper encounter of Him?
  • In what ways have you experienced the Divine exchange of the cross—Jesus taking on your flesh and you taking on His holiness? What areas of your life and character have been transformed into His likeness? Which ones have not?
  • Which of the resurrection promises from scripture did God speak through to you today? What did He say? How do you feel He wants you to respond?

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  1. James M. Houston, editor, The Mind on Fire: Faith for the Skeptical and Indifferent (Colorado Springs, CO: Cook Communications, 2006), 282-283

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, Shades of Grace will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

2 Responses to “Resurrection Ground: Your Sunday’s Coming”

  1. Lisa Kirkwood says:

    Dear Natalie , I shake my head when I hear you talk . Our journeys are so so so alike . I can not wait to share in your resurrection experience with you !!!! My heart anticipates … this will be the fullness of God , the resurrected life on earth as it is in heaven experience that you have so faithfully stood unwavering in ….as you have taken up your cross. Love Lisa

  2. Joanna says:

    I was so excited to this post and the one from April 14 when I checked your website.
    This message is so rich and powerful, and the overflow of your faith and hope is so inspiring. I have passed this message on to several friends who are in the suffering season.
    I believe that the understanding of being intimate with Jesus even in suffering was Paul’s “secret to being content.” Nothing can keep us from His love and from being in Him and He in us.
    I am so grateful for all you have been through and the rich wisdom and yada knowledge of God that He has granted to you. You are bearing more fruit than you can possibly know!

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