Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?”
–John 11:25-26 NET
I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit within you. I will remove the heart of stone from your body and give you a heart of flesh. I will put my Spirit within you; I will take the initiative, and you will obey my statutes and carefully observe my regulations.
–Ezekiel 36:26-27 NET
Exploring various methods of prayer, I was introduced to something called imaginative prayer. Praying through the Gospels in this fashion, I’ve discovered a lot about myself. Using our imagination, we envision the story in real time. For example, I’ve imagined myself as Peter standing around the fires while Jesus was on trial. Betraying Jesus in my mind’s eye, I felt what Peter could have felt—but they were my emotions. I betrayed him and collapsed weeping. But that story does not end there. In Mark 16: 1-7, I couldn’t help feeling relieved and grateful for the phrase, “Go tell his disciples and Peter.” Wow! All sorts of emotions surged through me as I allowed myself to taste God’s forgiveness in a new way.
Most of the time, the best I can muster is to be me in the story—an observer more than a participant. In my most recent prayer time in this fashion using John 21, I was standing on the shore watching as the disciples went out to fish all night. I watched as Jesus made a fire and began grilling some fish. As morning dawned, Jesus calls out to the disciples, “Catch anything?” You know what happens next. As the disciples made it to shore joining Jesus around the fire, I could feel the tension as no one dared ask who he was. But I also felt another, deeper tension. I wanted to be invited to the fire, feeling a bit like a kid watching others play ball while unnoticed and uninvited to join in.
I wonder why I would feel like that? The answer to this question remains in my journal, but suffice to say, Lent calls us out of the spectator’s seat into the action. Because we are now one with Christ who dwells within us (believers), we are in the middle of the story God is writing. And since it’s God’s story, here’s the curious thing to me. We are not the main character of our story, He is. So, by remaining somewhat detached as a spectator is to wrongly assume our story is more about us than him and what he is up to in us. We may receive stars in our crown, but in the end, we give them back to honor him—the one who is love and solely worthy of honor and glory.
As an aside, entering passion week and finally Resurrection Day, why would we want to only observe? Frankly, I want to daily participate in this resurrection life—his story written in me and through me every day.