by Janet Keefe
Maybe spring is a little shy. Reluctant, perhaps, before trees suddenly grow fat with green leaves and tiny flower buds burst into explosions of color and texture. Tentative, possibly knowing the inconsistency of New England winters, life pauses hesitantly, for a couple of weeks after Easter. It waits. It’s not quite ready to bloom. There might be cold snaps, wind, even snow! Possibly, caution overrides the desire to grow. Have you lived that way?
I have. I have found myself in situations where I knew my choices were unutterably clear. Situations where all that God required of me was my devotion, my obedience, my faith. I knew I was wrong not to peep out from under my little pile of debris, wrong not to reach out, to reach up to my God. I knew what I must do. And yet, things might be unpredictable. I hesitated. I feared.
The apostles feared. They paused and hid after Jesus died. They sat in misery and desperation, devastated by His death, horrified by the brutality of it, and uncertain of their own future, their faith shaken. Nothing good could come of this. They feared condemnation. They feared their own death. Time blurred. Every second hung like a long, bleak day, as they sat dejected, in hiding. They froze in their tracks and in their ministry. They hesitated, not knowing what to do next.
Then, new life entered their dreary room. It entered the room and bade them peace. He was irresistible. He was alive. He was holy, bright, and compelling. They must obey. It was their joy to obey. Perfect love and perfect peace drove them relentlessly. It perfected their faith and drove them to life anew. They were newly alive along with Him. There was no question, they would gladly die to proclaim Him. They understood the truth. They taught it. They preached it. They made disciples of young and old, rich and poor, jew and gentile.
I am one of their disciples. It happened when I was working at a group home for teens. Some of the teens went to church. I brought them. I sat in the church listening, when suddenly, I realized I felt like I was dead inside. It felt like a dark hole inside of me. Then a voice spoke to me in my head, distinctly. It said to me: “The wages of sin IS death”. At the time, I didn’t know this verse was Romans 6:23. I knew it was true, though. I was dead.
What did I do? I made a decision to go back to that church on my day off and find out how to find life. And…I waited. I feared. Like Lot’s wife, (Luke 17:32) I turned, looking backwards at my old life. I looked at my old sin with affection and my possible life as a follower of Christ with fear. Fear that I wouldn’t be able to keep up. Fear that I couldn’t be a holy, righteous person. Fear that I would never be good enough. I hesitated. But, I did go back to that church. The desire to feel alive again was irresistible. I talked to someone there. She told me why I felt dead and I found what could make me alive. It was this: “If anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” – 2 Corinthians 5:17 . I asked for that to happen; that woman helped me to pray for it. And then, I feared again knowing I had taken a step toward being the holy, righteous person I knew I wasn’t.
It didn’t matter. I was compelled to grow. I was compelled to live. Perhaps there is a point, a moment in life when we are drawn to be renewed, to be “born again” (John 3:3) and fear of harm and fear of death no longer matters. A point when living in cold and darkness is no longer a comfort, no longer represents safety. A time when spring bursts forth, when grass suddenly grows full and lush, when fish torpedo out of the unfrozen water to catch newly hatched bugs, when birds begin to sing their delicate and intricate songs. Rain may come and go, the wind may still get chilly, but none of it matters. What matters is new life. It is a new life that Christ gave me. It is this: “We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.” – Romans 6:4. Don’t hesitate any longer. It is time. New life, real life, is here.