Thursday, 07 April 2011 14:18

How the Resurrection Changes Lives

Written by  Karen O'Connor
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As Lynn Morrissey, author and journaling instructor, stood at her father’s?graveside on what would have been his 80th birthday, “all hope vanished,” she said. “I was in deep grief and doubt in that moment.”

Oh God, she anguished, How can you raise up my father’s body, which is decaying to dust?

“Then suddenly, I heard overhead a joyful noise...

 

A raucous throng of geese flapping in V-formation pointed me heavenward. On what should have been a day of celebration for my father [it seemed as if] they were ‘honking’ the Happy Birthday song. . . . At that moment, when I needed God most, [I felt assured] that because of Jesus’ resurrection, my father’s spirit was right there, celebrating with him. If God could bring Daddy’s soul to Heaven, he could surely resurrect his body, too. ‘Oh, thank you, Lord,’ I whispered. ‘Christ’s resurrection is real, and it’s everything to me!’”


Hope for a Troubled Heart
Mary Yerkes, professional writer and speaker, was also transformed by the resurrection—in quite a different way. “Raised by an abusive mother, I limped through early adulthood with depressive and suicidal thoughts and a pattern of self-destructive behavior nipping at my heels,” she said.
Her mother’s “belittling and intimidation” reduced Mary’s sense of worth and trust in herself, and “created gaping wounds” that crippled her experience of life and robbed her of any joy.

“But that changed when I met Jesus Christ in college,” said Mary. “God’s process of redemption and restoration had begun.” In the midst of pain and turmoil, Mary found “hope for my troubled heart.” As she learned to pray through the hurt, God met “the little girl who had died emotionally so many years ago and transformed her into a vibrant woman.”

Mary, diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis in 1997, lives with chronic pain, but the Lord has given her a purpose for it. Through writing and speaking she shares his redemptive love and comfort with others who suffer. “I watch in amazement as he continues to breathe life into dead souls through his resurrection power—turning mourning into dancing.” And now, Mary too, is able to dance in spirit despite her physical challenge.

The Promise of Eternal Life
“Most of us think of the cross as the central image of Christianity,” says Terry Glaspey, Director of Acquisitions at Harvest House Publishers. “While it is a wonderful symbol of what Jesus accomplished for us, the empty tomb is another major symbol we shouldn’t forget.”

We find our hope “in the moment when death was finally defeated and conquered.” Terry says that in the resurrection he finds “the promise of eternal life, free from the rule of sin and death. And I also find the promise of living a different kind of life, no longer bound to the limitations of the natural order. I’m invited into a new way of being—one of grace, hope, and transformation. He who ‘makes all things new’ continually renews my life by the power of his resurrection. And that makes all the difference.”

All Things New
My husband Charles, a retired business executive, had this to say about what the resurrection means to him. “As I awaken to a new day, I have a whole host of things on my mind to attend to and I wonder how they’ll unfold. But when I stop and first go to the Lord in prayer, and really listen, I’m lifted up, freed.”

Charles says this experience is a kind of resurrection for him right then and there. He steps out of the tomb of his own agenda and embraces God’s plan for the day. “To think that God, my Creator, would send his only Son Jesus to die for me and then be raised from the dead so that I can live forever with him, brings me to my knees in gratitude.”

Easter Surprise
The seed for my journey to the cross and the empty tomb began one Easter morning in 1948 when I was 10 years old. Sunlight streamed through my bedroom window and poked me in the eye. “June, June,” I called to my seven-year-old sister. “Wake up. It’s Easter.”

She popped up and together we ran down the stairs to the kitchen and opened the refrigerator. True to his custom, Dad had placed three beautiful carnation corsages on the top shelf––one for Mom, one for June, and one for me. He had snuck them into the house the night before when we were fast asleep.

We took the flowers out of their delicate boxes, eager to pin them to the front of our Easter coats. But first we’d step into our new spring dresses, lacy socks, and patent leather slippers before donning our new straw hats and gloves. If only there were an Easter parade. I wanted to show off our new duds!

The Bible Told Me So
At the time, the story of the Resurrection was just that—a story I heard at school and in church. I learned that Jesus died on the cross for sinners, was buried, and rose from the dead. It was part of our family’s belief system. But the real event had happened so long ago, I didn’t see any connection to my life nearly 2,000 years later. In my experience, Easter was all about clothes, candy, Easter eggs, and the beautiful baskets Mom filled with goodies.

In the decades that followed, I repeated the Easter customs I had grown to love. There were always new clothes and lovely corsages, colorful jellybeans and Easter eggs, ham dinners and chocolate bunnies, perfunctory prayers, and of course, church on Easter Sunday. I continued the tradition as an adult when I had children of my own. Until one year when we stopped going to church. The services seemed long and dry and my mind wandered to the things I’d rather be doing—like playing tennis or going for a bike ride around the lake.

Then suddenly without warning, in my late thirties, my life turned upside down like an umbrella in a rainstorm. And no amount of effort on my part could turn it right side up again. My husband walked out—just like that. I was a woman alone, divorced, then separated from my children for a time, far from my parents, and scared out of my wits at what the future held.

I needed a Savior! And into my life came Jesus Christ––the one I had read about, sung about, learned about—but never really knew until he came alive through the pages of Scripture and the shared experiences of caring people in a Bible study I attended as a guest of a new friend.

The Only Way
One day as I cried out to God in pain, the verse from John 14:6 that I had read in class overtook the darkness in my mind: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

These words of Christ pierced my spirit and out poured all the grief, anger, disappointment, pain, and pretense of a lifetime spent trying to look good and be good on my own power. Suddenly I knew my life was a gift from God through Jesus Christ. He alone could turn my heart from one of stone to one of flesh. He alone could provide what I needed and desperately wanted—to be loved, forgiven, and rescued.

That Easter, more than 30 years after the Easter morn I remembered from 1948, was the first time I walked in the only garments that matter. I was clothed in righteousness, released from sin, restored in spirit, and recognized as a friend of God. All this and more because of what Christ did on Calvary and on that magnificent Easter morning when he rose in glory to secure for all eternity my life in Him and the lives of all who come to Him.

“I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies, and whoever lives and believes in me will never die” (John 11:25, 26).

Karen O’Connor, freelance writer and speaker, lives in Watsonville, California.
 

Last modified on Friday, 08 April 2011 14:42
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