Monday, April 5, 2010

Looking in All the Wrong Places

On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, "Why do you look for the living among the dead?" Luke 24:1-5

"Why do you look for the living among the dead?" Those words have been haunting me this Easter weekend. Probably because they have much wider implications than that of notifying a group of women venturing to anoint a body that this man has risen. I can't help but feel those words directed at me. How often do I seek to find life by journeying to a lifeless place?

I could write a book on all the ways we humans seek life in dead ways. But let me share some thoughts on just an obvious few.

One way of seeking the living among the dead is when I turn to people for their opinions before I ever seek God's. What a foolish pursuit it is turning to fallible humans for a definitive answer when I have a Sovereign Father who is the Creator of all wisdom! 1 Corinthians 1:25 says, "For the foolishness of God is wiser than man's wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man's strength." Yet, so often without thinking I'll pick up the phone, confusing myself by trying to survey friends on how to deal with a tough situation. Now, I'm not saying that we should avoid gaining insights from other people. However, discerning God's will should be the primary goal and begin with prayer and the word. Adding the select wisdom or experience of a godly few should follow that. Some of the worst decisions of my life have been made when I proceeded without even consulting God! How dead it truly is to have my life guided solely by the opinions of others!

Another way I have sought the living among the dead is when I thought I'd feel better with the consistent habit of complaining. There seems to be a popular thought in our culture that letting it all hang out gets it out and helps us feel better. But living in a perpetual state of verbal spewing because I feel I have the right, does neither myself nor others any good. God warns us in Proverbs 29:11 "A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control." When I just jump right in to bash that which I dislike or irritates me, I'm seeking to feel better by looking in a very dead place. Not only that, but I'm also making myself look pretty bad to others in the process.

A last way that I'm going to mention here where I look for the living among the dead may seem radical to some. That way is when I seek to avoid suffering at all costs. To suffer is to be human, to live. Still, I have spent too many years trying to buy into the cultural lie that suffering is bad. How easily I forget that one of the last things Jesus warned His disciples was, "...In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." (John 16:33) There is no life that is untouched by sorrow. Suffering is that part of life which grows us, gives us wisdom and hopefully, imparts compassion. Trying to skip that part of the equation is looking for life where it does not exist.

I could go on with more examples, but these few ideas should cause you to think of ways that you too have looked in all the wrong places. Let's learn from the women arriving at Christ's tomb that first Easter morning. When we seek the living among the dead, we come up empty. Only in our willingness to leave the vacant tomb of our mistaken ways of thinking do we experience the joy of the Resurrection. Admitting that God has a much better ending to our story than we could ever fathom brings us back to the path of blessing that He has planned for our lives.

PRAY:  Holy Spirit, remind us that we are Easter people with boundless hope at hand.  Tap on our shoulder and redirect our focus when we wander into looking for life in dead places.

~ Barb Dittrich

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