At my church’s Wednesday bible study this morning, our text was Acts 24, the eerily parallel account of Paul’s trial before the Roman governor and high priest. He’s on trial, it seems, for his insistence on the resurrection. And not just the resurrection of Jesus, which he proclaims, but about a Way of living a resurrected life. After rigorous discussion of the text, we always end with a devotional question, and this one had my people stumped.
“How do you witness to your experience of God’s resurrection power?”
The responses went immediately to the doctrine of resurrection, our belief as insistent as Paul’s that we will all live again with God after death. There are many widows in our group, and I listened patiently as they described the powerful hope they experience in thinking about being raised and reunited with their beloved spouses.
Then I said what I’ve been keeping inside for months, what strains to come out every time someone tries to comfort me with the thought of Marrett living eternally with God, and me seeing him again when I too die.
I’m 42. My financial advisor told me Monday that I’m likely, by insurance tables, to die at 94. If I have to wait 52 years to experience the resurrection power of God, I’m sorry, but I’m done with Christianity. The God that raised Jesus after a gruesome and humiliating crucifixion can certainly do better than that.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I do believe in a bodily resurrection after death. I just don’t find it comforting. In all likelihood, I will marry again, which will be the third time. That will put me squarely in the camp with those Sadduccees in Matthew and Mark’s gospels, who just want to know the logisitics of how that mess is going to get sorted out when all my husbands and I are living together in one place!
And while I’m being honest, most times the thought of Marrett living anew with God just makes me angry. While he lives in some paradise with God, I am left picking up broken pieces of myself and my children in a broken world. His healing, accomplished fully and with no effort, taunts me as I engage the brutal work of my own grief, hoping against hope that healing will come some years from now.
I don’t need an afterlife right now. I need a life after.
And I need it before I’m 94.
I don’t quite know how to answer that bible study question either. How DO I witness to my experience of God’s resurrection power? What is my experience of resurrection, even?
It is a small shoot out of a fresh stump, as we read in last Sunday’s text from Isaiah 11. It is the bravery of my step-daughters who are digging in to the hard work of therapy, refusing to run from their pain even when they are afraid. It is the constant crises my family undergoes, in which we are met by the giftedness of God’s people, ready to handle a car repair, provide emergency babysitting, or make a run to the dump. It is the steady trickle of cards and texts and DMs that remind me how widely and persistently I am held. It is a life that is holding together despite my every expectation of falling apart.
Resurrection is not just for the afterlife, beloveds. It is here already and always coming. It is tiny droplets falling on parched ground, which bit by bit will turn it fertile again. It is an experience and not a doctrine, and God will not wait until I’m 94 to bring it.