Our dear friend, Al Ainsworth shared eloquent and powerful words about the impact of the resurrection in his moving foreword to "Raised to Walk".
As I write these words as a foreword to Raised to Life, I stare over my computer screen at the woods behind my house. Amidst a fog rising from the ground, the trees stand tall, straight, and bare. The effects of their barrenness lie all around them, the dead leaves of a former season. The grass closer to my house on which many of these leaves lay earlier in the season is clear of them now, but the grass also lies dormant. As an avid amateur landscaper, I imagine my passion for improving my view would dwindle to nothing if I didn’t maintain hope that in the spring, my landscape would come to life again.
Sometime in March—or maybe even during an unexpected warm spell in February—a handful of daylilies that my daughter encouraged me to plant a number of years ago will pop through the dead leaves, signaling the coming of spring. Some years, I have business that takes me from my home in northwest Mississippi to somewhere along Interstate 22 toward Tupelo, where numerous redbuds and dogwoods bloom alongside the road not long after the appearance of my daylilies. My cherry tree and azaleas will follow with profuse blooms that, along with the rest of creation, fairly scream that Jesus is alive.
While I can appreciate the other seasons of the year for what they are, spring’s vivid reminder of the resurrection makes it far and away my favorite time of year. My life as a believer has included many seasons of great joy and heart-wrenching sadness, but the story I tell again and again is that of my rebirth, my spiritual beginning, my new life in Christ.
I was nearing the end of my freshman year of college at the University of Southern Mississippi, trying to find my place and failing miserably. Though I could taut numerous academic achievements at my small country high school, my place was on the baseball team. I was not so accomplished in that arena, but it was where I had a sense of belonging, where I felt a part of something bigger than myself. I had not yet found a transcendent cause to replace being a part of the baseball team after almost a year of college, so I went home often to watch my former teammates play.
During the week, I picked up the details of the games over the phone with my friend Mike, the team’s center fielder. On the Tuesday of my school’s first district game against the team we had battled for the championship the prior year, my phone rang, and I expected Mike to be on the other end to tell me about the game that we had discussed at length the night before. Instead, it was a former high school classmate, who informed me that Mike had fallen rounding first base during the game and—as it turned out—suffered a massive heart attack and died before he reached the hospital. Mike was sixteen years old.
My own mortality had never become so clear. After mourning with my former teammates at the funeral home a night or two later, I found myself at a friend’s house, peppering his mother with questions about life and death and life after death. On my drive home that night, I gave up my shell of a life that I had discovered I had no control over, really, and decided to follow Jesus.
My life as a Christ-follower didn’t bloom right away, but it did come to life. As I learned how to have a daily walk with the Lord and how to show up on a regular basis to hear the Word preached and discussed and lived out, I learned how to follow Jesus. It hasn’t always been easy, and, my goodness, there has been plenty of heartache along the way, but there has always been hope. A man who can resurrect Himself from the grave, just as He said He would, will surely do as he claimed and come again to make all things new.
At some point while reading through Raised to Walk in anticipation of Easter Sunday, my daylilies will explode through the ground and what once seemed dead will be raised to life again. That’s the story of my life, and it’s the story of every true Christ-follower. Not improved lives. Not our best lives now. New lives. Join me, will you, on a journey that celebrates not only what Jesus did in overcoming death, hell, and the grave, but also in how He continues to do His resurrection work today and the hope that He gives us for His return.
Cummings, Ray; Hanberry, Scott. Raised to Walk: A 41-Day Easter Journey (41 Days Book 2) (pp. 11-13). 41series.com. Kindle Edition.
Christ-follower, husband, dad, friend & the Senior Pastor of Hardy Street Baptist Church.