Grave Clothes and a New Year | The Speckled Goat: Grave Clothes and a New Year


Grave Clothes and a New Year

Grave Clothes and a New Year: Being made free in Jesus, no longer bound by sin. A devotion from The Speckled Goat

I don't remember the exact day I began following Jesus.

I don't really have a great memory for dates, to begin with, but I know that I was young.

Following Jesus has been a very real part of my life almost as long as I can remember, but intertwined with that saving grace is a feeling of frustration.

As a young girl, I tried so hard to be "good." I tried to follow the Ten Commandments, worked to be kind to those who were unkind to me, magnified the little light in my heart to reach those around me... but so often, I felt like it didn't "work."

I messed it up. All the time.

My clumsy attempts to witness were met with raised eyebrows and a change of subject. I got upset with my sisters and lashed out in anger at my parents. The other kids in my Sunday School class always seemed to have it all together, while I screwed up constantly, royally, consistently. And I wondered, was I really a Christian? Because if Jesus really lived in my heart, then what was wrong with me? Why did I keep on sinning? 

I wish that I could say that I got older and grew out of all my bad habits. The truth is, I've developed more sins- deeper ones, stronger ones. Some of my sins I've learned to cover up in polite society and hide from the world (and even from myself).

My very screwed up humanity is still there. I'm still far from perfect.

As a Believer, I ascribe to the Truth that I'm a new person- made alive new in Christ. But if I'm a new person, if I'm living a new life in him, then I'm doing a terrible job of it. I'm still bound by the sin of my old self. 

When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, 'Lazarus! Come out!' The dead man came out his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face. Jesus said to them, 'Take off the grave clothes and let him go.'" - John 11:43-44

Whether it's my temper, my need to control everything and everyone around me, my stubborn instance that things be done my way, I still wear grave clothes. I still have my hands and feet wrapped with the linen of my dead self.

Even though I've been made alive in Christ, I still sometimes act like I'm the same old dead me.

I live in fear more often than I can be found in faith. I speak harsh words instead of life-giving ones. I hate my neighbor sometimes, not to mention my enemies.

Salvation makes me alive again, but I constantly struggle with the linen around my hands, the cloth covering my face. So many of us deal with it- the old addictions, the old temptations, the old sins. They keep holding us back and distorting our view.

Those grave clothes can bind us up, cover our eyes, and prevent us from doing what we were called to do in this world. And it can be just so very frustrating.

But we have a Savior who is bigger than all that- our Savior not only brought us from the dead and into new life in him, but he is also continually making us new- renewing our minds and our hearts to know him better. To become truly free in him.

As we celebrate a new year, I'm often tempted to look at those grave clothes of mine in a spirit of defeat. A spirit of frustration. I'm so, so human, and I know that I'll mess everything up. My resolutions will fall flat, my best intentions will pave a road to nowhere, and I'm sure (absolutely sure) to sin in 2016.

Sometimes I get so focused on my own failures that I forget to see the Face of grace standing at the other side of them.

Like Lazarus, I can't take off those old grave clothes by myself. I need the healing hand of my Jesus, the support and encouragement of my loved ones, and so, so much grace.

This new year, don't focus on the grave clothes. Recognize them for what they are, yes. Acknowledge your own sin and all those things that hold you back from becoming the person God made you to be- but don't stop there.

Remember that you've been made new, and that the One who raised you from the dead is continually making you new. He continues to remove those grave clothes and bring you to greater freedom in him.

Hallelujah- what a Savior.

Related Posts:

Forging a New Trail: being renewed through identity in Christ

In Christ: our true identity, and what it means for us

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  1. Great thoughts! I often feel like I'm going in circles--do better, mess up, fix it--but hopefully I'm still moving in the general direction of up, and closer to what I should be.

    1. That's such a great image- going in circles. That's so true! I try to remind myself that I should be focusing on progress, not perfection... and grace covers all.

  2. Great, timely, reminder Ally! Thanks :)

  3. So true! I have worked very hard towards not letting my past mistakes drag me down.

  4. none of us are perfect. It's one step at a time, one day at a time - with God at the center of it all... :)

  5. Such great reminder that we all are in the struggle to do better. Sometimes we forget that it's not just us stuck in the cycle. As someone said one day at a time.. and God at our center

  6. Oh, Ally, don't set yourself up for failure by thinking we can be perfect! Only Christ was perfect, we are imperfect humans (made perfect through the blood covering of Jesus, yes) and Satan still rules this world until Christ returns again. We can do better in our walk with the Lord always, but don't beat yourself up over stumbling, just learn from it and move on. You do a good job of keeping the Lord at the center of your life and your witness spreads farther then you can even imagine! May God bless you richly in this new year, keeping you safely under His wing.

    1. Isn't that amazing- how hard it is for so many of us to accept grace freely without thinking we need to do something to earn it?

      You're right- the best journey is the one where we learn, grow, move on, and give thanks for the grace that picks us up when we stumble.

  7. I am reminded of Paul's words in Romans 7:15, "For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate." I can so relate to him. you are so right when you say that we cannot do this without the healing hand of Jesus and so much grace! Praise God for His grace!

    1. Yes- exactly. Why do we do the things that we hate, that we know better than to do? It's all a part of that human nature- the very thing we'll struggle with until our time on earth is done. Grace upon grace, He loves us even still. =)

  8. Beautiful thoughts on the concept of "grave clothes"; had never focused on that powerful phrase within this scripture. Your message resonates with much meaning.

  9. Beautiful! I also had never focused on the concept of grave clothes before. And you're right we certainly can't take them off ourselves. I'm joining you in asking the Lord to set me free from mine! Thanks for this great insight! The Holy Spirit is so faithful!