During the twenty years that we lived overseas, I often lost track of upcoming American holidays. Before wide-spread internet connection, I have to admit that the last Monday of May was usually spent with end of the year parties and summer plans.
Yet, I vividly remember my first Memorial Day weekend back in the states in 2007. As our church sang patriotic songs and remembered those who had died for our freedom, I was moved to tears and ashamed that I had so seldom celebrated this national holiday.
First called “Decoration Day”, the Memorial Day-type observance began as a day to decorate the graves of fallen Civil War heroes. Although placing flowers on the tombs began as early as the first year of the Civil War, it wouldn’t be until over 100 years later that the federal government would set aside a specific day to observe the holiday.
As Christians, today should be a very special day for each of us. Of course, we must remember those who have given themselves for our country’s freedom and thank the families of those who are remembering their loss.
But, we have another death to remember. That of our own.
Our old self died when He died (Romans 6:6).
Let’s take some time today to remember this glorious fact and visit our own gravesite.
When God looks at who you were before Christ, He sees a dead man – complete with coffin and tombstone. Your body of sin has be done away with, so that you no longer have to be at sin’s beck and call (Romans 6:7).
Remembering our old man doesn’t create any fond memories within us. That was one life that we can rejoice with its passing. When we were made to die to that old way of life, we were then released to enter into a whole different life that was already blameless and free: the very same Life of Christ (Romans 7:4).
With our gravesite full, we have been released from the rules and regulations of offending God. Christ can’t offend Him – so neither can we. Instead, we can serve God on the other side of the grave – in newness of Spirit – not the tit for tat of the Law-regulated living (Romans 7:6).
Spend a moment at your own burial plot.
As you walk away, know that you will probably need to come back here tomorrow.
Because remembering that we are already dead to sin helps us live like we are already in the heavenlies.
(What’s in your sarcophagus?)
An orchid named Iris.
She was a very special plant given to me by a very special friend. I’d never had an orchid before, but I did a little research and decided to give her a go. I discovered that this variety liked heat and humidity, so I put her on my Taiwan balcony beside the washer and dryer. It was definitely warm enough and the machines helped add mugginess to Taichung’s already tropical environment.
Iris went nuts. She put out several new leaves immediately and was never without at least ten blossoms. I once counted 23 blooms on her little stems. Something about living on the laundry balcony suited her.
Needless to say, I haven’t attempted on orchid here in West Texas. Especially since Lubbock made the listing of the top 100 cities with the lowest average humidity. I think that an orchid by any name would probably be called “Dead” here.
You see, some things only grow in specific conditions.
Take spiritual fruit, for instance.
They won’t grow in your emotions, nor in your thought life. The conditions of selfishness and worry aren’t conducive for them to thrive.
No, because love, peace and joy are spiritual fruit, they can only bud within your spirit, where the Living Spirit of God resides.
Granted, most of the fruits of the Spirit seem like they should come with an emotion. Love and joy particularly seem to be something that we feel.
But selfless Spirit-filled Love can only sprout within the depth of our spirit before its tendrils reach to our emotions. And Joy that transcends situations can never survive in a thought-life centered on outer circumstances.
So how can we tell the difference?
By willing our emotions and thoughts second place to the place of Truth within us. By daily turning our minds and feelings over to Him in prayer. Willingness and faith are key to spiritual growth.
I’m praying for your spiritual hothouse today. May the Father cultivate fruit that lasts in the depth of your soul (John 15:16).