As Easter approaches, I spent my day reflecting on today’s date – March 31. It was Easter day six years ago today. That morning was both an amazing and difficult day for me. It was the morning I got baptized and also the morning my Grandmother passed away.
My Grandmother Orahlie was a strong woman of faith. Many of you have heard Pastor Linn Winters tell the story on stage of how she was the single largest financial supporter of Cornerstone Church in its early days before it had a building. She was a traditionalist and wasn’t a huge fan of the current worship style with guitars and drums. But she also believed that the younger generation was the future of the church. She would say that if this new style of church gets them through the doors to hear the gospel, then she would support it. My fondest memories was of her sitting in her chair listening to gospel music. When I was asked to step down from ministry before her death, I was so ashamed to tell her that I avoided calling her for months. When I finally told her, she wasn’t phased by my failure and just told me to draw close to Jesus and that he would heal me of my brokenness. She also told me that she had been praying for me by name everyday of my life since I was born. That just blew my mind to know that someone had been actively praying for me my whole entire life. I am thankful I was able to give a part of her eulogy and read from her own personal Bible the day of her funeral. We were really close and a big part of who I am today is because of her strong faith and influence on me. I miss her.
A couple of months before, I had decided to get baptized on Easter morning. If you know me, you know a good portion of my life has been nothing but hard times and brokenness. After the trauma of going through divorce, I finally surrendered my life to God after many years of rebellion. God took my broken life and made something new and beautiful out of it. And it was time for me to declare that publicly to the world by baptism. I had asked my Uncle Joel (my Grandmother’s son) to baptize me. He is only a year older than me and has been like a brother to me growing up. He has always had a strong faith in God and has been a rock in my life. Even though we had just lost my Grandma earlier that morning, he was still willing to baptize me.
I’ll never forget the moment I stepped out onto that stage in front of my all my friends and family. David Gungor of The Brilliance (brother of Christian artist Michael Gungor) had just switched worship songs in his set as I was approaching the baptism pool. The new song he started was the song “Beautiful Things”. As I was walking and listening to the lyrics, I remember I started to weep over the words.
You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of the dust
You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of us
It was an amazing reminder of how far I had come since making such a mess of my life. It was a reminder that God was healing me and putting me back together. And now I get to declare that publicly to the world on the day Christ rose from the dead. He loves us and makes us new and beautiful. I remember my Uncle Joel and I looking up after I came out of the water and knowing Grandma Orahlie was smiling down upon us. God is so good and I am thankful he put such an amazing woman of influence into my life to encourage my faith.
Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” – Mark 8:34
I have been studying the life of Jesus and heard a message tonight taught from this verse. To be made new again, we must do these three things that Jesus teaches us in the book of Mark. Deny yourself (denying our fleshly desires), take up your cross (know that following Christ will involve suffering) and follow Jesus (not the ways of the world). In the original Greek, these steps are stated in the present, continuous tense. This strikes right at our heart’s desire to run our own lives. Jesus paid the price for our lives and has Lordship over us. As hard as this is, know that God uses our suffering and pain to draw us near to him. These lyrics are an expression of hope that God will make beautiful things out of the dust in our lives and that he will use us to build his Kingdom when we surrender to him.
– Travis Timmons