One of the most consistent patterns of God’s dealings with us is this:
Vision → Death → Resurrection → Triumph
Looking back, can you see that pattern in your own life?
We could call it the Easter Formula. In all the span of history, the most obvious example of this divine pattern is the phenomenal events of Easter.
- The promise of a Messiah.
- The torturous death of Christ on the cross.
- His amazing resurrection from the dead.
- His promised return to reign in eternal triumph.
“Up from the grave He arose, with a mighty triumph o’er his foes.
He arose a victor from the dark domain.
And He lives forever, with His saints to reign.
He arose! He arose! Hallelujah! Christ arose!”
Vision → death → resurrection → triumph is the proclamation of Easter. Look back over your own life, and I am sure you will see the Easter Formula repeated many times.
• God gave you a Vision. Maybe a specific promise impressed upon your heart. Maybe a calling received through His Holy Spirit. Maybe a desire or ambition that was a product of the unique person God created you to be.
• Then came the complete Death of that vision. The harsh circumstances of this life, including very possibly your own sins and shortcomings, made fulfillment of the vision seem utterly impossible. All hope was dead.
• Then, amazingly, miraculously, God Resurrected your vision and led you to Triumph. God kept His promise, long after you had given up. God worked in and through you to carry out your calling. God fulfilled that ambition at a time and in a way that you would never have believed possible.
God is the Great Author, and this is one of His most common story lines.
• Abraham and Sarah longed to have a son. Infertility and the passage of time brought complete death to that vision. Then, God renewed their hope and miraculously gave them a son, Isaac, in their old age.
• God gave Joseph the dream of being a great ruler. Then Joseph’s dream was completely smashed to bits. Kidnapped, sold into slavery, falsely accused, thrown into prison — Joseph’s dream couldn’t have been any deader. Then God miraculously moved Joseph from travail to triumph, from imprisonment to power. Joseph’s vision came true, long after all hope was dead and gone.
• God positioned Moses to deliver his fellow countrymen. He grew up in the palace, the adopted grandson of Pharaoh! Then, due entirely to his own lawlessness, Moses became a murderer and fugitive and alien. The chance of ever being Israel’s deliverer was completely dead. But a full generation later, when Moses was 80 years old, God resurrected that vision in a spectacular way. Moses delivered God’s people and become one of the most important figures of history, long after fulfillment was a complete impossibility.
And that’s just Genesis and Exodus. This divine pattern, the Easter Formula, continues throughout the Scriptures. Consider David: anointed as a young boy, hunted down as a young man, then crowned the king. Job: who had it all, then lost it all, then received it all back twice over. Vision, death and resurrection have played out several times in the amazing story of Israel, and that nation’s ultimate Triumph lies ahead. It is even the story of this planet, from paradise lost … to sin, suffering, the coming tribulation, and ultimately, complete destruction … before the revelation of a New Earth.
What is the message of the Easter Formula in your own personal life right now?
• Have hope: Don’t be fooled by the death of your vision. God is in the miracle-working business. Your hopelessness may be a step toward resurrection and triumph.
• Have wisdom: Don’t be fooled by the source of your vision. God never promised to grant every whim or fulfill each earthly desire. However, if the promise came from Him, it will come to pass. Distinguishing between God’s vision and our own, between God’s hand at work and our own fleshly activity, is one of the great arts of spirituality. But it is possible to do. Search your heart. Ask for wisdom. Plead with the Great Communicator to make His will known.
• Be patient: God is a patient God. He does not mark time the same way we do. Consider the stories above. Triumph often comes decades, centuries or even millennia after the vision.
• Rise above: Life is about the process. Surely that much is clear.
The story of Christ, the greatest story ever told, is not finished yet. Actually, Jesus has barely begun. He came, He died and He rose again. That was just the First Act in the story of the Kingdom.
Now we wait. We hope. We are wise. Waiting patiently. Rising above. Believing that He will return … in triumph. And then — no more suffering, no more pain, no more poverty, no more hardship, no more death, no more tears.
“We eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of [His] power.” (Phil 3:20-21)
“Live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our Great God and Savior, Christ Jesus.” (Titus 2:12-13).