Resurrection power in our wounds

Jesus_loves“And this is the secret: Christ lives in you. This gives you assurance of sharing his glory.” (Colossians 1:27, NLT)

It was a spectacular night for a Red Rocks concert – clear skies, temperature in the low 70s, and the lights of the city just beginning to pop out below us as we climbed steps to the outdoor amphitheater. My sister, brother-in-law and niece had never been to Red Rocks and we were all looking forward to a fun night listening to bluegrass music – a perfect Colorado experience! But as we got closer to our seats, it became apparent that people weren’t there just for the music – this was an opportunity to smoke pot. I had expected to see some of this, but the haze over the crowd, and the number of people around us who were passing joints, quickly made me revise my expectation – this was not just a music concert – this was a pot fest.

How disappointing! And then to see the number of children in the crowd – children who were with parents smoking pot – was so disturbing!

As we sat in our seats and took it all in, I felt really unsettled. Lord, this just doesn’t fit with how you designed us – we are wired to connect with you – but people get deceived in all sorts of ways.

I know I’ve been deceived – it wasn’t pot – but I went after other things I thought would satisfy that deep longing in my spirit for truth and joy, a craving to fill a deep void I couldn’t name.

We didn’t last too long at Red Rocks – about an hour. But as we were leaving, my eyes fell on a young woman who had been sitting behind us, obviously very stoned. She could hardly lift her head as she sat cross-legged on the cement walkway, her friends standing beside her, laughing, dancing to the music.

Compassion washed over me.

I stepped over to her and sat down, placed my hand over her heart and silently asked the Lord to speak through me. This is what came out: “I carry something, and I want to give it to you. I’m praying for you, and the Lord wants you to know how valuable you are to Him and that He wants good things for you. God bless you.” She looked into my face, and I saw a spark of life in her eyes. I got up and left.

I had never said a prayer like that before. The Lord has asked me to pray for people in a lot of situations – when I’m running, or on an airplane, or in a grocery store – but those particular words had never been spoken by me.

I rehearsed it later, wondering about the words I had prayed.

As I thought about it, I know what I said is true: I CARRY SOMETHING. Not only do I carry something, I can give it away.

But Peter said, “I don’t have any silver or gold, but I do have something else I can give you. By the power of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, stand up and walk!” (Acts 3:6)

In the last four months, as my husband and I moved out of the house we had lived in for more than 30 years, and as we packed and unpacked boxes, cleaned, restored and replaced, the disruption seemed to “shake lose” some feelings of shame and guilt that lay buried in my heart and these feelings began rising to the surface.

My spiritual director reminded me that those feelings are part of my past – a past that included being molested and raped, but Jesus has promised that when we unite ourselves to him, we become new creations – God re-creates us!

Therefore, if anyone is united with the Anointed One, that person is a new creation. The old life is gone – and see – a new life has begun!” (2 Corinthians 5:17) (Christ means “anointed one.”)

My old house, my old life! – was soon going to be gone, and the Lord wanted me to fully embrace the new life that was beginning. This move wasn’t just a symbol of new beginnings – He wanted me to know it in my heart, to know I truly am a “new creation” who is not defined or ruled by her past – I am defined by who God says I am and what Jesus did for me.

For many years, the little girl inside me had filled herself with shame and guilt – like a bottomless glass of water, I drank it whenever something happened that made me feel “wrong” or less than perfect or not in control. They say alcoholics and addicts need to get to a place so low, so desperate, that they are willing to pay the price for freedom from their addiction. I reached that place where I couldn’t stand the weight of my shame and feelings of worthlessness. That’s when – almost 20 years ago – I embarked on a healing journey that at times seemed way too perilous and unpredictable, requiring strength I knew I didn’t have on my own, but in the end filled me with the truth of who Jesus is for me.

With Jesus, victories became more common than defeat, and instead of drinking from a glass filled with shame and worthlessness, I started drinking from the bottomless glass that Jesus offered – the promise that the old life is gone and a new life has begun.

I began to embrace ALL that Jesus did for me in the resurrection – including making my wounds “new.” When the resurrected Jesus appeared to his disciples, his wounds had not disappeared. He came back with GLORIFIED wounds, and I’ve learned that when I “give” Jesus my wounds, they become new, glorified wounds just like his. My wounds become filled with all the truth of who he is for me – a victorious savior. Power and love are released through my wounds when I let Jesus Christ glorify them!

“Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.” (Ephesians 3:20, NLT)

Donald Kraybill talks about the paradoxes of the Kingdom of God in his book “The Upside-down Kingdom.” When Jesus announces the Kingdom of God, things are turned upside-down – to lead, you become a servant; to become rich, you give everything away; to live, you die; to be great, you become humble. And it’s that way with our wounds – wounds that appear to make us victims actually give us victory; wounds that tell us we are powerless actually give us power; wounds that tell us we are unlovable give us the opportunity to be filled with love.

The deep void that once was filled with shame and guilt is now filled with Jesus’ power and love. So when I sat down with that young woman at Red Rocks, I was carrying all the truth of who Jesus is for me – a truth gained from years of letting Jesus transform my wounds into power and love – and I could give it away. That’s an upside-down kingdom!