The change true transformation brings is as different as life is from death, white from black, light from darkness. We’re not talking about a haircut and change of clothes, or some new cosmetics. You may have been (or are now) living a life of victim hood, people pleasing, addiction, marriage misery, fear, or any variety of brokenness. But God specializes in resurrection. When He brings transformation it brings dead things to life.
The metaphor of death and life is very personal to me right now. Yesterday (at the time this article is released) was the two-year mark since my loving husband Al passed away. Yes, grief is hard! Those who research such things or help those experiencing grief say the first year is especially challenging. And the pain doesn’t go away after that. I think of him every day. Often I find myself saying, “I miss you, Honey!”
But I’ve also experienced what it means for God to bring life out of death. He never enjoys our pain. If you’re walking through grief right now, know that Jesus is very close to you. He measures your tears. He holds your heart gently. But just as surely as you’re reading this, He is also able to transform your pain into something more valuable, precious, and meaningful than you could have ever imagined.
And He can do that with any kind of pain, brokenness, bondage, hopelessness, or whatever you need. He can truly bring dead things to life.
The Bible’s Perspective
Shortly before the end of His life on earth Jesus said, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain. He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.” (John 12:24-25)
Jesus was referring first to His own impending death on the cross, through which many human beings would be saved and live forever. But it’s much more than that. Notice that He immediately then talks about you and me – we who “love” our life or “hate” our life in this world. Jesus is talking about a principle of the kingdom of God.
If we hold so tightly to what we think we have or need, we risk allowing that very thing to become the means of our destruction. Valuing life is good. God gave us life. But as Jesus said, holding onto life (in this world) so tightly guarantees we will lose it.
The same goes for just about anything else we hold on to. Food is good. Sexual pleasure (with your spouse) is good. Caring about the impact of your life on others is good. A relationship with your loved one is good. God made those things. But when we hold them too tightly they can become the means of our destruction, such as food or pornography addiction, people-pleasing, or becoming stuck in grief.
So what should we do? Say “Thank You, Lord!” for every good gift, and hold it loosely, remembering that this world is only temporary.
Dead Things to Life
I am not glad my husband died. Death is an aberration in God’s universe; death is an enemy! (1 Corinthians 15:26) Death hurts – a lot! I reflect about the grief journey in our podcast episode today.
But the experience of going through grief has affected transformation in me. I have learned some things about God through this journey that I’m not sure I would have been open to learning otherwise. Who I have become as a human being, a woman, a minister has deepened. I have more substance to bring to those God asks me to help – not only in the area of grief, but in many areas. God has brought dead things to life in areas of my being through the very experience of grief. And I believe He is bringing life to others through my experience also.
God has a way of taking what the enemy meant for harm and turning it into something of meaning, into bread by which you can feed others. (See Genesis 50:20) Here are a few points that can help you position yourself to experience transformation that brings dead things to life.
Maybe you are facing the death of a dream, the death of a relationship, the death of the marriage you thought you had, the death of your reputation, or the death of a loved one. Perhaps your fear, addiction, bondage, or whatever, is bringing you to the death of your own efforts to make it on your own.
Own that. Look at it. Embrace it. Feel it. Doing that takes courage, grit, determination. Yes, it feels like the end.
Once you own it, bring it to Jesus. When you bring what you have to Him He breaks it, blesses it, and turns it into food whereby others are fed. Read about the five loaves Jesus broke and blessed. (Matthew 14:17-20) If you try to hold onto the pieces, you can never be blessed – or become maximimally useful for God’s purposes.
There was a time when Jesus was working His restoration in me from my “years of hell” when I saw, in prayer, all the broken parts of me as just that – shattered pieces. In my mind I experienced Jesus reach out His arms, take all the broken pieces of me in His hands, and bring them close to His heart. And I was no longer a collection of shattered pieces; I was whole, still unfinished, but intact.
Experiencing Jesus do that for me back then allowed me to bring Him my broken heart after the death of my husband, and experience His healing. And He can do the same with the broken pieces that you bring to Him too.
Whatever you value in this life, hold it lightly. Whether it’s your health, your marriage, your children, your job or business, your ministry, your home, your money, even your life, it’s temporary. All these good things are simply on loan. It’s in eternity that God gives us things that cannot be taken away.
The only thing to hold on to with all your might is your relationship with God. Like Mary sitting at the feet of Jesus, let it be said that you have “chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:42)
God’s transformation brings dead things to life. Give Him that chance.