This Holy Week has been a journey from a triumphant entry into a city to the temple, the mountains, an upper room, a garden, a praetorium, to a cross, and a tomb sealed with a stone. We have the privilege of living in a post resurrection world. We knew on Friday, that Sunday was coming. His disciples (our predecessors) however, did not.
I try on Holy Saturday to spend some time imagining what it was like for them. I try to imagine how they must have felt, what they must have done, what they must have thought. I do this because it has become my tradition to consider this whole week with Christ , so that Sunday’s bells and hallelujahs are even sweeter and louder. I do this because I do not want to take for granted the true miracle of the resurrection and the hope it is for us all.
This Holy Saturday this quote from C.S. Lewis kept coming to mind. While I don’t know exactly how Peter, James, John and the other disciples felt that dark Saturday, I know very well what it was like when I lived in my own darkness. I write so far removed from that time that it seems as far away to me as the Saturday we were all rescued.
Lewis is right, any part of us that is resurrected has to die. I can tell you many things in me that have died. Some quickly and some painstakingly slow. This death was necessary before new life could spring forth.
What has died in me : People pleasing, approval addiction, codependency, shame, nightmares from past trauma, a critical spirit that was born from insecurity, lies, fear, false identity, brokenness from my parents divorce, pride, anger from betrayal, unforgiveness, bitterness, envy, greed, comfort eating, mistrust , fear to speak the truth and stand up for what is right, excess worry, the inability to sit still.
Resurrection is bringing death to life.
I was dead in my sin. I was so sin sick, I didn’t even realize how bad it had gotten until I was so deep in the pit that there was no crawling out. I was in a toxic, abusive relationship. I had made poor decisions. I was failing out of college because I invested all of me into a relationship where the receiving person did not truly love me back because he did not know how.
The physical and emotional pain from that relationship damaged any esteem I had. I found myself in a downward spiral. I was telling lies to avoid getting in trouble. I became so good at telling lies I began to believe them and repeated some of the insignificant falsehoods long after the relationship had ended. I had made my own bad decisions before this unhealthy relationship, so I do not cast blame on him or make excuse. I was in a bad situation, but I reacted poorly. In fact the relationship ended after 4.5 years and I still made poor choices.
The truth is this: when I was a 10 year old little girl I knew who Jesus was and I professed my trust and belief in him. I knew he was my Savior. What I did not know was who I am in him.
So here I am in a pit that is dark, cold and I am wading in my own sin. The guilt and shame of my own actions and reactions. I was pretty low. In addition to that I was in the middle of my LVN program and hanging on for dear life to remain in the program because I had to work full time which was looked down upon. I had an unstable living environment and my finances were a constant challenge. Life was hard situationally when I found myself in this pit.
So in the midst of this a friend of mine looks at me and says, “You need to go to church with Josh tonight.”
I scoffed at him, ” You don’t even go to church. You are not even sure what you believe. Who are you to tell me to go to church?”
I don’t recall his reply. I was frustrated, but what he suggested was something I just couldn’t get out of my head. Something in my spirit was stirred and unsettled. I still believed, but I hadn’t been to church in years. So I found myself that evening driving my moped to my friend Josh’s church.
They were having a revival that week. There was a guest pastor. We opened up singing. Then it was time for the message So I am sitting there with this built up anxious expectation in my spirit. I clung to every word the pastor was saying. I don’t recall the message, but I remember very clearly what happened afterwards.
The preacher no sooner let the altar call invitation slip out of his mouth and this people pleasing , worried about what other people think, usually too shy to go up to altar girl bolted down that aisle like there was a fire to tend to. I kneeled at the altar and prayed. People laid hands on me and prayed. I don’t even remember the prayers, but I remember the feeling of being there but not. At one point I opened my mouth and did not understand the words I was saying. (That part I used to be nervous to share and tell others, because oh she is one of those. I mean what would people think about this sensible person ). You know what, if I am going to tell you what happened you might as well know that was the honest to God truth. I had never experienced anything like it before or since. But I was speaking words I didn’t know while I prayed and other people prayed.
At some point I just knew it was time to get up and go back to my seat. I did. At that time I noticed others were receiving prayers too. We sang. The service ended. I drove away on my moped and the only way I can explain it was I felt lighter. It was as if someone had lifted the weight of the world off my shoulders. As I drove home I couldn’t help but notice the grass was greener, the sky seemed more blue and whatever heavy feelings and presence that been lingering over me was gone.
That was a turning point in my life. I pressed in and finished nursing school. Things began to improve. I made better choices and tried to surround myself with more positive people. There were slip ups along the way, but this was definitely one of a handful of turning points in the life of one Shelly Lynette Curtis.
There were several more turning points which included my marriage, becoming a mom, becoming a Nurse Practitioner, getting baptized as an adult, and the Lord using an opportunity of a failed business to get my attention and grow me exponentially in my faith by discipling me through people he placed all around me when I wasn’t looking.
So this 48 year old Jesus girl who has been married 22 years to a man who loves the Lord with a 17 year old daughter who loves the Lord and is surrounded by so many clergy and beautiful brothers and sisters in Christ has come a long way from that pit.
I was dead in my transgressions, wasting away in guilt, shame, lies, and fear. I was barely keeping my head above water.
He rescued me from myself. He saved me, but he did not stop at my salvation. He surrounded me with people that would encourage me. He gave me a purpose. He has led me in the path of righteousness by discipling me through various ways and thanks be to God I will never be the same!
He has allowed me to cross over from the path of death and destruction to life. He called me by my name and told me I was His own. He restored me. He restored my academic integrity. I went from a 1.68 GPA at Sam Houston to graduating with my BSN at UT Houston with a 4.0. He gave me a career where I could use my caregiving nature to take care of others and support my family and do well financially. He restored my sexual integrity with a healthy God honoring marriage. Despite having an abortion as a young adult, he allowed me to have a healthy child and be a mom. Her name means light or Lord. She is my light from the Lord because she is a constant living reminder of His mercy.
So I mean it when I say there is nothing the Lord cannot breathe new life into.
I am glad that from death, with our God whom nothing is impossible, new life is found.
I found out the day I lost myself, is the day that I found God.-Switchfoot