Category: resurrection


Earlier, I wrote about how I was afraid that becoming a teenager would turn me into a rebel and make me fight with my parents.  That didn’t happen.  But my thinking did change.  Looking back, I think that was when I first started dealing with “the voice.”

It was a voice that would remind me of all the times I had messed up, when I had looked silly, when I had hurt someone’s feelings.  Being reminded of a mistake felt like reliving it– even years later, I would look back and shudder about the smallest misunderstandings.

It was a voice that told me to pause before speaking up, reaching out, or taking action.  What if I made a mistake?  Better to stay silent and hidden.

It was a voice that told me whenever something bad happened, to assume it was my fault.  “I’m sorry.”  I felt like I needed to apologize for everything– it probably was my fault somehow.

It was a voice that told me to compare myself to others and that I wasn’t ready for the challenges ahead– I didn’t know how to drive (or want to learn how), I didn’t have a job, I didn’t like to go out with friends, I’d never had a girlfriend, I didn’t know what I wanted to do after I graduated.  And before I knew it, it would be too late to learn.

I want to be clear about this– when I talk about hearing a “voice,” I don’t mean the sort of voice that a person with schizophrenia might deal with, where you can’t tell for sure if what you’re hearing is a real sound or coming from your mind.  (Also, I know almost nothing about schizophrenia aside from the fictionalized portrayal of it in the movie A Beautiful Mind, so my concept of it may not be very accurate.)

See, I knew that the critical voice that plagued me came from my own mind.  It was my own voice, the voice of my fears.  As I said in an earlier post, part of growing up was that I became more aware of other people, and of their awareness of me.  And that caused me to be more careful about what I did and said.  But my rule-oriented mind took it to the extreme.  And it tended to create a vicious cycle, because the more I hid from potential failure and embarrassment, the more I feared that I was leaving myself unprepared for the world by not trying.

To greater and lesser degrees, every day since then became a fight against that voice in my head– usually subtle, but sometimes exhausting.  I could fight it by distraction, or by applying myself to a task that I really enjoyed.  Better still, I could fight it with other voices– the voice of God’s Word telling me that I was forgiven, my sins had been paid for, and God was in control of my future.  The voice of the Holy Spirit assuring me that I was a beloved child of God, and the voices of my family echoing that same unconditional love.

One of the greatest things about God is that he is so near.  I don’t have to make a journey to talk with him.  I don’t have to go through a series of mental exercises to make my thoughts acceptable to him.  He is as close as my own thoughts at all times.  Just by remembering that he is there, I can turn any time of distress and doubting into a prayer.  This didn’t make the struggle go away, but it meant I never had to struggle alone.

Hopefully this post makes some sense; I don’t intend for it to be a “woe is me” post.  I’m trying to be honest about how I see my life and development.  My next post will be on something more fun and less serious.

I’ll finish with a couple of quotes from The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis that hint at how this struggle will end.  If you’re not familiar with The Screwtape Letters, they are written as a collection of letters from a demon named Screwtape, whose nephew Wormwood is assigned as the tempter for a young man.  These sections come from the last letter, in which we learn that the young man was killed in a bombing raid, and Wormwood has failed in his task:

“How well I know what happened at the instant when they snatched him from you!  There was a sudden clearing of his eyes (was there not?) as he saw you for the first time, and recognised the part you had had in him and knew that you had it no longer.

Just think (and let it be the beginning of your agony) what he felt at that moment; as if a scab had fallen from an old sore, as if he were emerging from a hideous, shell-like tetter, as if he shuffled off for good and all a defiled, wet, clinging garment.”

And:

“Defeated, out-manœuvred fool! Did you mark how naturally—as if he’d been born for it—the earthborn vermin entered the new life? How all his doubts became, in the twinkling of an eye, ridiculous?

“I know what the creature was saying to itself! ‘Yes. Of course. It always was like this. All horrors have followed the same course, getting worse and worse and forcing you into a kind of bottle-neck till, at the very moment when you thought you must be crushed, behold! you were out of the narrows and all was suddenly well. The extraction hurt more and more and then the tooth was out. The dream became a nightmare and then you woke. You die and die and then you are beyond death. How could I ever have doubted it?’

“As he saw you, he also saw Them. I know how it was. You reeled back dizzy and blinded, more hurt by them than he had ever been by bombs. The degradation of it!—that this thing of earth and slime could stand upright and converse with spirits before whom you, a spirit, could only cower. Perhaps you had hoped that the awe and strangeness of it would dash his joy. But that is the cursed thing; the gods are strange to mortal eyes, and yet they are not strange.

“He had no faintest conception till that very hour of how they would look, and even doubted their existence. But when he saw them he knew that he had always known them and realised what part each one of them had played at many an hour in his life when he had supposed himself alone, so that now he could say to them, one by one, not ‘Who are you?’ but ‘So it was you all the time.’

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I have always tended to be moody.  (Maybe my name should be “Dwight L.”)  Even though depression is something I have struggled with and sought help for, it’s never been with the expectation that my mood would remain constantly at one level– it seems to be human to have times of feeling happy and feeling sad, and strangely they often don’t coincide with the circumstances of life.

C.S. Lewis was very insightful about this human tendency.  There’s a section in The Screwtape Letters that puts it very well.  (In case you’re not familiar with The Screwtape Letters, each chapter is presented as a letter from a senior demon named Screwtape to his apprentice Wormwood.  Wormwood has been assigned as the tempter of a human that Screwtape calls only “the patient.”)

MY DEAR WORMWOOD,

So you “have great hopes that the patient’s religious phase is dying away”, have you? I always thought the Training College had gone to pieces since they put old Slubgob at the head of it, and now I am sure. Has no one ever told you about the law of Undulation?

Humans are amphibians—half spirit and half animal. (The Enemy’s determination to produce such a revolting hybrid was one of the things that determined Our Father to withdraw his support from Him.) As spirits they belong to the eternal world, but as animals they inhabit time. This means that while their spirit can be directed to an eternal object, their bodies, passions, and imaginations are in continual change, for to be in time means to change. Their nearest approach to constancy, therefore, is undulation—the repeated return to a level from which they repeatedly fall back, a series of troughs and peaks. If you had watched your patient carefully you would have seen this undulation in every department of his life—his interest in his work, his affection for his friends, his physical appetites, all go up and down. As long as he lives on earth periods of emotional and bodily richness and liveliness will alternate with periods of numbness and poverty. The dryness and dulness through which your patient is now going are not, as you fondly suppose, your workmanship; they are merely a natural phenomenon which will do us no good unless you make a good use of it.

There’s a lot of cleverness in the way that C.S. Lewis quite literally takes on the role of the devil’s advocate to help the reader listen to what he has to say in a new way.  It can be a natural response for a Christian to assume that a time of depression or of feeling far from God must be because of sin.  But the Bible doesn’t teach that.  The Psalms seem to have as many examples of people crying out to God from the midst of trouble as they do of people giving God praise for their blessings.  God has a purpose in allowing us to go through both, and he is with us through both, regardless of how we feel.

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He is risen!

I love singing about Jesus’ resurrection and what it means for all who trust in him.

This Easter, Paul’s words to the church at Corinth are especially on my mind:

“But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep.  For since by a man came death, by a man also came resurrection of the dead.  For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive.”

I am so thankful for that promise.

I thought I’d share some of my favorite Easter songs– I plan to be listening to or singing them today!

Low in the Grave He Lay Robert Lowry and W. Howard Doane

This hymn is really fun to sing.  The first part of each verse, about Jesus lying in the tomb, is very slow and introspective, and then all of a sudden it goes into this fast, energetic refrain with the different singing parts doing all sorts of embellishments:

Up from the grave He arose!

With a mighty triumph o’er His foes.

He arose a Victor from the dark domain,

And He lives forever, with His saints to reign.

He arose!  He arose!  Hallelujah, Christ arose!

Arise, My LoveNewsong

This was one of my favorite songs as a child.  It simply tells the story of the resurrection.  The group Newsong always did a great job with the harmony when they belted out the chorus, which imagines what God the Father said to his Son that morning.  The lyrics are inspired by Song of Solomon 2:10 and 1 Corinthians 15:55:

Arise, my love!  Arise, my love!

The grave no longer has a hold on you.

No more death sting, no more suffering,

Arise, arise, my love!

Easter SongKeith Green

Hear the bells ringing; they’re singing that you can be born again!

Hear the bells ringing; they’re singing Christ is risen from the dead!

Just a joyful song.  The group GLAD recorded a wonderful a capella version of this song that I love to listen to.

He Was HeardMichael Card

This song, based on the book of Hebrews, especially 12:1-2, speaks a message of great hope gleaned from in-depth study of the Bible, as a lot of Michael Card’s songs do.  It helped to answer a question I once had about the resurrection– I knew that Jesus’ death on the cross was significant in that it paid for my sins, but then why do we treat His resurrection as even more significant?  I can’t quote just part of this song– got to quote it all!

In the days of old, the priest would come with a lifeless sacrifice,

While the crowd in anxious silence would wait outside.

As he entered in the temple, they only hoped he would be heard,

God would give them a tomorrow, and the priest would stay alive.

Their only chance, their only hope– would he be heard?

The only way they might be saved– would he be heard?

.

In the fullness of the promised time, the final Priest did come,

And He offered up a living Sacrifice.

Now we His children wait for Him with hope and joyful praise,

For we know that God has heard Him, for we know that He was raised.

He offered tearful prayers, and He was heard.

He offered up His life, and He was heard.

.

So let us fix our eyes upon the Priest whom God did hear.

For the joy that was before Him, He overcame the fear.

For once and all He paid the cost, enduring all the shame,

Taking up the cruel cross, ignoring all the pain.

Love Crucified Arose – Michael Card

This is one of Michael Card’s earliest and most poetic songs.  It has a lot of beautiful images in it.

Love crucified arose

The Risen One in splendor

Jehovah’s sole defender

Has won the victory

.

Love crucified arose

And the grave became a place of hope,

For the heart that sin and sorrow broke

Is beating once again.

Wow.

Was It a Morning Like This? – sung by Sandi Patty

This was another song I loved as a child whenever I heard it.  It always made me feel a sense of excitement and wonder.  It also has a tune that’s hard to stop singing!

Here’s a video of it. (Only watch if you don’t mind 80s Christian music!)  ; )

Christ the Lord Is Risen Today Charles Wesley

One of the things that makes Easter hymns seem so special is probably that you usually only sing them once a year.  But I’ve always thought that you could sing this one any time, as the title is still true about any day you sing it on.

It has a neat, unique tune that is great to sing.  But I also love to think about the words:

Soar we now where Christ hath led,

Following our exalted Head.

Made like Him, like Him we rise.

Ours the cross, the grave, the skies.

Happy Easter, everyone!