By Roxanne Smith
On Easter I wasn’t in the mood for celebrating. It’s been a really hard three months. My father is dying, and I have been in terrible physical pain after four major back surgeries. The cold winter nearly did me in.
I looked around the church and recognized several friends who have lost parents or spouses or good friends in the past few months. Others have had health crises or job losses or relational fractures. I could see plenty of happy people, too, but could our pastor’s sermon speak to those of us who are grieving? Even on a day in which celebration prevails?
The front of our church was decked out with Easter lilies. They looked amazingly fresh and gleaming white. Pastor Justin Rossow drew our attention to a bulb which he held in his hand. Not the impossibly beautiful lilies, but a bulb. Brown, hard, ugly, and smelling like earth. Quite a contrast to the fragrant lilies which the florists had displayed.
Pastor Justin Rossow drew our attention to a bulb which he held in his hand.
Justin explained that when God raised Jesus from the dead on the first Easter, Jesus was God’s new creation. A bulb is buried so it can bring forth the new life of a lily. Jesus the God-man died, was buried, and after 3 days He was resurrected to a new life and a perfected body.
The Bible tells us that Jesus paid a price with his suffering so that we can also be resurrected after death. We will receive new life—eternal life—in a perfected body. But right now it’s as if we’re in bulb form…small, hard, kind of ugly sometimes, and even smelly.
Our bodies break down, our relationships get strained, our sin makes us ugly and smelly. We experience life in this broken world as a struggle.
Our bodies break down, our relationships get strained, our sin makes us ugly and smelly.
If that’s all we could ever be, that would be the pits. Who wants to be a bulb? We’d rather look and smell our best to everyone around us. Even more, we want to experience living to the full. Bulbs can’t really do that.
The good news is, we are bulbs…on the way to being lilies. And that’s just a metaphor. What we will be when Jesus comes again is like the difference between a bulb and a lily/ an acorn and an oak tree/a coccoon and a butterfly. Choose your metaphor!
What we will be is more fully alive than we’ve ever been, more free to be our true selves, and more completely loved than we can imagine. And each of us will still be a unique individual…recognizeable to each other and yet so much more complete than before.
What we will be is more fully alive than we’ve ever been, more free to be our true selves, and more completely loved than we can imagine.
That gives me hope. This body of mine which suffers SO MUCH PAIN and finds itself so confined is not all that I’ll ever be. Thanks to Jesus, I can get up each morning and face my pain and limitations—knowing it’s not my permanent destiny. It’s finite.
And Jesus breaks in to my present. He is alive. He is here now, giving me hope, giving me peace, giving me strength. He has given me—a former mountain climber and an athlete—some degree of contentment in my life of bedrest and pain…for 24 years at this counting.
I know I can’t do that alone. I didn’t want to celebrate. It has been hard. I look around and see hard in so many other lives. And yet—we experience this new life already through Jesus. If God creates bulbs and lilies, He is going to be creative in how He works in our lives.
He is creating something of worth in us every day. Thank you, God; you transform my present just by coming near to dwell with me. And you also show me a glimpse of my future.
He is creating something of worth in us every day.
Because after all, when a bulb knows it’s gonna be a lily, that changes everything!