Look for Life among the Living

I imagine an aching silence when, in the cool of the early morning, Mary, the mother of Jesus, walked with her companions toward the tomb. With perhaps only the shuffle of scattering animals, the faraway squawking of birds, and the crunch of their sandals on the stony trail as a soundtrack, they carried the spices they had prepared to begin the embalming of their Son, Friend, and Lord. Feeling the sting of defeat, each bearing her own sense of grief and disbelief, they prepared to honor Him in the only way they knew how—tenderly preparing His lifeless body for burial. 

Adding to their confusion and heartbreak, as they approached the tomb, something seemed terribly wrong. The enormous stone was pushed aside; they peered inside. His body was not there! Where was He? Who had taken the body of their Lord? 

Then, out of the darkness, two men, shining from head to foot appeared, and with one question, shattered the silence forever: “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen.” (Luke 24:5–6)

Why do you seek the living among the dead? 

A Well-Aged Woman

I turned forty last June, and quite frankly, to my surprise, I feel more driven and invigorated than I did when I turned thirty. Perhaps this shouldn’t be a great shock—when I turned thirty, I had an eight-year-old, a seven-year-old, a special-needs three-year-old, a one-year-old, and was five months pregnant with my only daughter. (Energy, pfft? I’m lucky we all stayed alive.) 

We lived in a tiny mobile home in the woods; I was a stay-at-home mom, and my husband’s Christian school teacher’s salary was comparable to the size of our home. Food stamps and Medicaid were not simply a political talking point, but my reality. Our reality. To be honest, I truly believed that things would never change. Time and time again, I worked the situation over in my mind, twisting it, turning it, trying to figure out how God might move, and I just couldn’t see it. I was a believer, but vision-impaired. 

Why do you seek the living among the dead?

By now, I’ve gotten glasses. God has moved and so have we, and my life is 180 degrees different than it was back then. Feeling as I do, as if stepping out of thirty and into forty tipped the scale on my position in the body of Christ from “younger woman” to “older woman,” I feel this urge to gather in those who have just stepped on the scale to help them along, to provide any little piece of wisdom I’ve gained from my near-sighted life thus far. 

Two years ago (just two years ago!) I traveled to True Woman ’18 separately from my mom, which was unusual because we had always gone together before. From afar, she spotted me with my group of local friends (who are now her friends as well, because she “moms” wherever she goes), her face lit up and she gleefully exclaimed, arms opened wide, “Aww, there are my little chickens!” 

I laughed at her then. I kind of made fun of her. But not now. 

Because, younger women, my little chickens, if you’ll indulge my mother-hen-ing (You can make fun of me later; it’s okay), I want to ask you one question that is shaping my fortieth year, which I wish had shaped years thirteen to thirty-nine:

Why do you seek the living among the dead?

Thirteen-year-old, do you seek the living in the mirror? Are you looking into your own bright eyes, which the Creator fashioned and placed and gazed upon with joy, hoping to see the reflection of a prettier girl, or a smarter girl, or a girl with the right clothes, athletic abilities, or friends? Sweet young woman, life is not found in your own reflection, but in the reflection of Christ! 

Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. (John 14:19–20)

Twenty-year-old, do you seek the living in your longing for a relationship, for a friendship, for independence, for space, or for intimacy? Young friend, these are good desires. They are God-given desires, but apart from Jesus, they will never satisfy. Even if you get exactly what you want and marry your high school sweetheart, and three years later have two kids and a house and a dog as I did, you will always find yourself longing for more.

Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4:13–14)

Thirty-year-old, do you seek the living in your doing? Are you frantically searching for the heavenly “atta-girl” for your home-keeping efforts, your church attendance, your Bible-reading schedule, your nutrition plan, your fitness regimen, your Pinterest paint a Bible verse on anything that will stand still projects? Again, these things are good, good, good. But apart from Christ in you, the hope of glory, you will work yourself to exhaustion, while being beautiful, busy, and spiritually bankrupt.

Your love is like a morning cloud, like the dew that goes early away . . . For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings. (Hos. 6:4–6)

Yet Not I, But Christ in Me

Oh, how well I know each of these pitfalls—how thirteen, twenty, and thirty-year-old Laura stepped into them again, and again, and again. But you? You don’t have to. Don’t seek the living among broken mirrors, unfulfilled longings, and external doings. He is not there. He has risen!

You see, the one thing I’ve learned that really matters is that my only source of hope and peace at every age is the finished work of Christ on my behalf. Everything I do for the rest of my life is a joyful proclamation of His goodness. But you don’t have to wait until you’re forty to figure that out. Grab a forty or fifty or sixty-year-old near you to draw from for wisdom and start thinking through these things today. Ask her to help you look for life among the living: in the Word; in your church; through good, honest, biblical friendships; and most importantly, in the arms of Jesus.

And by the way, to future, sixty-year-old me: You’re not done yet. Don’t look for the living among the dead. Stop trying to win a race that was won for you on the cross. Just keep running, faithfully.

To this I hold, my hope is only Jesus
All the glory evermore to Him
When the race is complete, still my lips shall repeat:
Yet not I, but through Christ in me!1

1 Jonny Robinson, Rich Thompson, and Michael Farren, “Yet Not I but Through Christ in Me,” CityAlight, n.d., http://www.cityalight.com/yet-not-i-but-through-christ-in-me/.

About the Author

Laura Elliott

Laura Elliott

Born and raised in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, Laura Elliott and her husband, Michael, now call Minnesota home. Laura is the mother of five sons and one daughter and serves as the marketing content manager for Revive Our Hearts. In … read more …

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