Saturday, April 14, 2007

Out of Death, a New Life

I started this post in response to Christian Women Online's new Blogging Challenge, since it was a chance to win an iPod Shuffle! The challenge is: "As we reflect on the resurrection of our Lord, write a post that celebrates life."

I'm afraid this post morphed into something more personal than a winning entry would probably look like, but here's the obligatory entry sentence, anyway: This article is my submission to the blog challenge sponsored by Art Bookbindery, "Empowering Writers to Self Publish."

It is Good Friday. I sit in the bathtub, shaving my legs and meditating, in the few moments of quiet amid a weekend of houseguests, on the death of Christ.

"Oh, Lord," I whisper, "I'm so sorry for my sins--so sorry that you had to die for them. I wish I could have been good enough on my own.

"I'm sorry for that, too, that pride that keeps trying to be good enough somehow. I confess that I can't be. I am a sinner, through and through. I need you."

The tears of exhaustion roll down my cheeks and into the bathwater. "I want to be washed clean, Lord. I'm tired of striving. I want to die to that part of me and live in a new way, controlled by the Holy Spirit and producing His fruits."

A peace--the peace of death to self--entered my soul. "How, Lord, do I keep this old self on the cross? What does my new life, my new self in Christ, look like?"

Over the next two days, two answers came.

First, I saw myself as a woman redeemed. Someone has paid all that I owe. How would I live if a friend on earth had bailed me out of bankruptcy or paid for our house--as a gift? Wouldn't I be humbly, gratefully, continually aware of what I owe them? Not in dollars, but in thankfulness, love and a generous spirit toward others. Having received such a gift, how could I ever be demanding, impatient and unloving toward others?

Second, "Unless a grain falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit." (Jn 12:24) So I let go of my striving. I die to my own will. And then what?

A tiny shoot of new life bursts forth--a life of peace, of trust, of love for God and others. It will not instantly become a mature plant, but remarkably, it begins bearing fruit immediately. This seedling needs daily care, protection and watering--more care than it has been my habit to give. For it is not the first tender shoot that God has planted there, that I let wither and die for lack of nourishment, that I trampled by my own stomping, stubborn striving--that I choked with my own will. "Not my will this time, Lord, but Yours be done."

Christ, you have given me a new life. I am no longer a prisoner to sin, or a debtor to God; You have paid all that I owe. May I receive that gift with a humble, grateful, loving spirit, as gracious and generous to others as You have been to me. Grow Your new life in me. Shield these new plants of humility, love and grace. May their fruits be so sweet I desire nothing else.

Photo credit


G's Cottage said...

Jeanne, thank you for always being faithfully transparent; that is a tremendous gift.

Bss said...

Very inspiring!