Celtic cross in Ireland

What Does Resurrection Life Look Like to Us Unremarkable Saints?

Reading Time: 6 minutes

Back yard fire pit

 Easter is an emotional contradiction for me. Each day of Holy Week stokes a flaring exhilaration. Slowly I journey through Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. But Sunday’s coming. Finally the dry kindling of my fear-pocked, meager faith will ignite from the billows of the Holy Spirit breathing fresh fire into my life. Like the martyrs Stephen, Joan of Arc, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and Jim Elliot, remarkable saints all, I’m ready to die for my faith. Then the flame of resurrection life flutters, sputters, and finally ebbs. It was Sunday but then Monday came. I’m left sad and disappointed and asking what does resurrection life look like for us unremarkable saints?  

“He is risen!”

“He is risen indeed!”

The best art is by grandchildren
He is risen indeed!

On Resurrection Sunday we boldly proclaim those words. But we often fail to boldly live them. It leaves me wondering if any of us really believe this resurrection stuff? I’m not talking about doubting the factuality of Jesus’ resurrection. Strangely I don’t struggle with that. I grapple with believing my own life is resurrected.

Resurrection Life and The Curse of Practical Atheism 

R. C. Sproul calls this is practical atheism, where we say we believe something but that belief does not translate into much life change. Many of us also do this with physical exercise or eating healthy. 

But more foundational is my—our—making the same weightless professions about Jesus. And I find myself frustrated, disappointed, and angry at us. Sometimes angry at God because the hope I’ve placed in him for healing, deliverance, etc. seems futile. But I seldom do my part.      

Soon to be a butterfly?

In my life this practical agnosticism comes from telling myself and being told by too many church leaders that intellectual assent, passing the written belief test, is enough. Despite that after the exam, I dash from the classroom and promptly forget everything.

I need—even want—more, much more than an academic faith. What I need at the start of a new day is joy rather than dread. My soul aches for peace over worry. Can my confidence in God’s love finally conquer my self-loathing? In short, I don’t need an A on the Christianity 101 test. I need transformation. I want to live as if Jesus conquered death and his love for me will carry me in this life and the next.

Because of God's grace art

The Resurrected Life Is not Grandiose

The other problem is that most of the stories I’ve heard about living a resurrection life are grandiose. Stories of martyred saints, selfless missionaries, reformed slave traders, mournful hymn writers, and persecuted disciples are remarkable and inspiring. But I’ll never reach that level, nor, probably, be asked to. 

What if God’s idea for living a resurrected life is not this grandiose? 

Again what does resurrection life look like for us unremarkable saints? In her blog Ann Voskamp writes, “Resurrection changes a life’s direction. Resurrection reorients.”

These resurrection reorientations can be small, daily movements rather than larger than life visions. Living daily with Christ more than dreaming of dying for Christ.

Fort Logan National Cemetery

What Does the Resurrected Life Look Like? 

My oldest daughter, Katie, suggested: “What if, we said yes to whatever we felt Jesus asking us to do. It could be as small as a smile, dropping everything to play, [or as large as] buying groceries for someone, forgiving a hurt quickly, praying instead of worrying.”

The Grinch Who Stole Christmas

A simple yes rather than no. From constant labor to occasional play. From a selfish act to a generous one. From worrying what’s next to wondering what God has in store. From grudge keeping to forgiveness granting.

This last one hit home with me. We have long-standing strife with a neighbor. We seldom interact. But when we pass one another on the neighborhood walking trail, her anger rolls over us like a furious ocean storm. A sunny day turns gray. The feeling of being despised walks the rest of the path with us. I think the conflict stems from a graduation party my youngest daughter had years ago. And also construction noise from a patio we installed. Though I’m not really sure.

As I walked the path behind their house after Easter Sunday, a thought returned. Buy them two bottles of wine and write a note with it saying, “Not sure if you are wine drinkers, or like red or white. But these are simple expressions of neighborliness. I expect nothing in return.”

This is a small, simple, though not easy, resurrection life response. For that matter, resurrection life movements are those we can only accomplish by God’s grace and the power of the Spirit. By God’s grace I’m finally going to say yes to Jesus despite many good excuses for not needing to: they may throw the wine away disgusted. It will be awkward being seen delivering a gift by other neighbors who know of this feud.

Fulford, Colorado

The Resurrection Life Is Not Timid       

Paul encourages his friends in Rome and us: “This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It’s adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike “What’s next, Papa?” God’s Spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are. We know who he is, and we know who we are: Father and children.” (Romans 8:1–16 The Message)

I remember our kids heading down the “big slide” for the first time. “Catch me, Mom! I’m coming!” This is the picture I get for daily resurrection life. “Catch me, God, I’m living.”

I love and hate the other phrase Eugene Peterson uses here: “a grave-tending life.” Ouch! Our cautious and self-protective measures are not living. They are placing flowers on our unoccupied graves. They are not acts of wisdom but premature grieving. Worry, indecision, living in fear, self-doubt, and procrastination are acts of death not life. 

Resurrection life means leaving the graveyard shouting, “What’s next, Papa?”

Paul continues: “And we know we are going to get what’s coming to us—an unbelievable inheritance! We go through exactly what Christ goes through. If we go through the hard times with him, then we’re certainly going to go through the good times with him!”

Charcuterie Board

The Resurrection Life Is One of Expectancy

I recently heard a provocative question: “What if Jesus’ followers wrote resolutions after Easter instead of on New Years Day?” 

That idea struck me as a good start. But resolutions fall short of Spirit empowered life. Most New Years resolutions survive only fourteen days. Jesus’ resurrection life has transformed people for over 2,000 years! New Years resolutions are human powered and resurrection life is Spirit powered. But what if we took a similar idea and launched into forty days of asking, “What’s next, Papa?”

So for the next forty days I’m embarking on an adventure of a resurrected life. Daily I’m going to say yes to Jesus and journal the times and ways God calls me to resurrection life and how I’ve responded.

Odd Art

Join me In the resurrected Life?

Also pray my Sunday Psalm of Easter Praise with me.

See how Easter made a daily difference for me in A Funeral, a Wedding, and a Life and Death Lesson in Easter

8 thoughts on “What Does Resurrection Life Look Like to Us Unremarkable Saints?”

  1. Georgie Ann Kettig

    my heart goes out to you, and you have my sympathy, because I was also “walking in naked faith”, as life “did its thing” around me, during my early years,… I did have some faithful Christians around me (my grandmother and some others) who were mostly quiet, but very nice,… and in the parental realm, it seemed that intellectual pov’s and quite a lot of stoicism were the dominant m.o.’s,… my childlike heart had a yearning that did not feel cradled, reassured or very satisfied,… this continued for many many many years, while I followed the “path of life” that was presented to me, learning and doing things as well as I could,…

    making a long story short, in (secular) college, I took an art history course that ~ lo and behold ~ began with church art, which dated back to the times of Christ, and “my personal Christian education” was begun!,… (actually, it was being continued, because I had had the opportunity to visit some European cathedrals, on a trip that was fulfilling the wishes of my precious step-father, who had been diagnosed with a serious illness also),… believe me, these “pictures were worth more than a thousand words”!,… so, around 20 years of mostly secular (but well-intentioned) living, had left me somewhat “drained” of fascination for what might be coming next, earth-wise, because of the “emptiness” of my long-hurting, but unresolved, heart questions,…

    so, much like a child, or an illiterate believer, I absorbed transcendent “meaning” from these representations of “early church art”,… my soul feasted on these visuals,… and I believed,… of course, these were mostly Catholic images that spanned many centuries, before history took other turns,…

    I can understand a certain frustration with looking for the dynamism of “Easter Resurrection” in our modern, daily life circumstances, especially when the “ordinary hum-drum” also contains residual and frustrating, prevailing and difficult “attitudes”,… my personal “secret” is to still remind (and refresh) myself with the inspirational visuals that have remained unchanged throughout all these centuries,… they are an interwoven part of my internal prayer life, that superimpose themselves on the quotidian repetitive situations that surround me, (and threaten to be boring, or “whatever”),… they can “inspire me” to take “leaps of faith” that just might “shake things up” in an interesting and rewarding way ~ much like you are doing with your wine gifts!,… I’m serving “my Lord”, more so than “simple unpredictable humans”, and I know that He will be pleased, no matter how things seem to turn out!,… “God is Good”, and transcendent!,… trusting Him is enough!,… I hope your wine offerings are a great success ~ I think that they already are from Jesus’s point of view!,… God Bless & “have faith”!,… (-:

    1. Georgie Ann Kettig

      these 40 days are always “very special”, because it seems that Jesus is “staying with us”, walking with us, ~ closer/present ~ than “usual”,…

      1. Thanks, Georgie Ann. Art for me too is often transcendent. I saw a painting called Black Jesus at the Virginia Museum of Fine Art that made me weep. I look forward to the this forty day adventure of letting God’s life flow. I’m praying it sticks!

        1. Georgie Ann Kettig

          this reminds me of an early effort “in my (intentional) faith walk”, (remember, I was an adult “starting from scratch” at this time), of trying to be more “Christ-like”/unselfish in interacting/sharing/giving with/to others, without expecting/wanting/looking for/demanding anything in return,… (since it is “in freely giving”, that we shall “receive”),… my very first definite, intentional, and bold “act”, in this regard, ended up being “giving a postage stamp” from my purse, to a rather “officious looking” person, who was in need, and refusing any monetary compensation,… it was a counter-intuitive situation
          in many ways, actually, and felt absolutely wonderful!,… (imagine! ~ sincerely attempting to “walk on water” by giving away a “postage stamp”!),… I don’t have a lot to give, usually, but I still find great joy in “freely giving” plenty of “little things”,… especially to people who aren’t expecting it,… the creation of those “happy moments”, and the friendly bonds of mutual-and-self-acceptance formed by them, are an experience of “human wealth” that can’t be purchased anywhere,… love, trust, value, “I matter/you matter”, etc,… so “easy-peasy”,… and, yes, it does feel like “God is watching”, as well as “watching over”, all of us,… (-:

  2. It will be exciting to see where your 40 day journey will take you!

  3. Steven Kuethe

    I like your short summary of “a simple yes, rather than saying no”:
    I took my dad to the eye surgeon for a follow up visit yesterday. Sitting in the waiting room with us was an elderly black woman.
    Frequently, (I think it is the Spirit) provides my conversation starters, so I stopped fighting my impulse (and fear) and asked her “What Mother’s Day miracles happened yesterday?”
    “No miracles” she said. Long pause… as I looked at her inquisitively. “But, it was a very good day” she said.
    What happened? I asked
    She described her day.
    The next thing you know we had swapped life stories, and conclusions about those stories…
    A nurse arrived and asked for Mr. “ummm”… Long pause. Then she spelled out our last name which she had given up trying to pronounce and off we headed to Dad’s appointment, but not before I let the elderly black lady know how lovely it had been getting acquainted with her.

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