Today’s guest blogger is Deborah
It never ceases to amaze me. After a bitter and depressing winter, new life shoots forth from what was just a few weeks earlier, a stone cold ground. No matter how much snow fell from the sky or all the subzero temperatures experienced…turning all that was once vibrant and green into a sort of greyish-white death…spring relentlessly emerges. And as always with spring, fresh sprouts burst into life from a winterized death. Plants destroyed by the intense cold now flourishing from their decomposed remains. Even song birds outside can be heard chirping away, as if they were heralding in warmer days. It is a season which brings hope…life from the depressing remains of death.
Inevitably, when spring arrives, I get excited witnessing this new life sprouting around me. And with renewed energy, I begin to plant seeds for my future summer garden. Interestingly enough, like the new life that buds from the dead ground, seeds also mimic the miraculous action of nature so that they too may have life. Taking a small, dormant seed, one buries it in the dirt…just as with all things that die. And after burying the seed, the ground is then drenched with water, followed by placing this covered and drenched object into a warmly lit place. Unlike winter, instead of snow there is water, and instead of freezing temperatures, there is warmth. Doesn’t make sense how life could come from dirt, warmth and water. But after 3 to 5 days of waiting, a sprout emerges with vibrancy and strength. A once dead looking object now fully alive and growing!
Life from death and death from life…the cyclical events of nature. I cannot help but think of the fabled myth of the phoenix when reflecting on these miraculous events. A beauteous bird which never eternally dies but is always reborn into a new creature from its burnt remains. Nature is, in a sense, God’s phoenix…new life springing forth from certain death. And it is a romantic notion…that a once decaying and destroyed life can be reborn into a new life once it dies. It is a notion that is, by worldly understanding, impossible. It is why the phoenix legend is considered a fable…a myth that will remain fictional and never come true.
But I disagree. Our God has always been about making the impossible, possible. Bringing hope to the hopeless. Transforming new life to the once stone cold dead!
How fitting it is then, at this time of year, that we celebrate the most impossible event ever recorded in the history of man. Easter: the account of Jesus’ death and resurrection from the dead. And for Christians it is through these actions that all can have new life if we place our faith in Jesus. The apostle Paul reflects these thoughts to the Corinthians believers in his forth letter stating that, “(Christ) died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for Him who died for them and was raised again. So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:The old has gone, the new is here!” (2 Corinthians 5:15-17, NIV)
I’m a pastor and my current position is to minister to those who are literally destroyed by the world around them. I oversee the spiritual life of a drug and alcohol treatment center in the heart of Detroit Michigan. Every day I witness coldness of winter no matter what time of year it is. Men and women…people who are physically, mentally, and most of all spiritually dead from what world has afflicted on them. Children born in a war zone of familiar abuse and neglect, living in neighborhoods plagued with poverty and crime, raised to earn money through prostitution and drug dealing. They are in the winter of life…the rock bottom of their existence. Men and women at the point of extreme hopelessness and on the brink of death. You see it in their eyes, in their walk, and in the sound of their voice. They are done with this world…there is no life left in their body. Society has thrown them out, labeling them a lost cause. But it is in these circumstances that the fable of the phoenix becomes true. Through the ashes of a once destroyed life we see God doing His best work!
You see spring is a shadow of God’s miraculous nature…it is evidence of what He can do within our lives. Through the most hopeless and seemingly “dead” circumstances of our existence, God can radically change those in the dormancy of sin, filling them with His life giving power. This is the power of what Christ did on the cross – transforming those dead in sin into a new life…not an improved life, but a new life. And that word, “new” that Paul used in 2 Corinthians 5:17, means to be, “unprecedented, novel, uncommon, and unheard of.” Isn’t that amazing? It is through God’s transformational power, He miraculously creates new life from the death of ours. The myth becomes reality!
At this treatment center, men and women do not just recover from their addictions, but their life is literally transformed! No longer are they regarded in a worldly point of view but instead are seen through the possibilities of Christ. And with His miraculous power, death comes to their old life with new life bursting forth vibrant and new! Just like the buds of spring or the seed in the dirt, God removes the old and brings out the new! Rehabilitation will improve a life, but God can make it brand new!
Through Jesus we are the phoenix and nature is a reminder to us of that. Through the ashes of our old life in sin, we can have a new life filled with direction, purpose, and hope. God stated it beautifully in Jeremiah 29:11, “’For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” Today, live the new life of God…be the phoenix that He has created you to be!