By Matt Coker / @MatthewSCoker & @BackRowBeliever
There was a time when I was dead inside.
I spent several years of my life entombed in my own depression, bitterness, and fear.
During those years, I fed addictions and bad habits, just to feel something. Just to convince myself for a moment that I was still alive.
I spent more nights than I want to admit contemplating suicide and once began to make an attempt before chickening out.
Later in life, I finally accepted Christ, but instead of asking Him into my heart, I asked him to remain in his tomb.
I didn’t deserve redemption, I didn’t deserve salvation, I didn’t deserve his resurrection. I didn’t want them. I wanted what I deserved – misery.
Instead of growing my new-found faith, I did all I could to keep it from progressing, which is to say, I did nothing.
I continued to spiral out of control. I let my addictions overrun me. I let them take me. I let them drag me back into the grave.
But Jesus refused to give up on me.
Jesus refused to let me give up.
Jesus refused to stay in his tomb.
I had tasted. I had seen. But then I ran away and hid.
Just like Peter.
I may not have denied Jesus out loud, but I denied him with every action I took.
But I was his. And he refused to give up on me.
When my sin took me deeper than I wanted to go, he was with me.
When my shame had me weeping and falling to pieces, he was with me.
When my consequences locked me in prison, he was with me.
And when I finally dropped my walls, there he stood. He waited for me.
He stood before the tomb I called a heart and called me out of it like Lazarus.
He rolled the stone away from my tomb, just like the stone was rolled from his own.
His resurrection power, the power of God, was given freely to me.
He revived me. He renewed me. He replenished me. He restored me.
I wasn’t just revived. I was reborn.
I was a new creation.
Dead to my old life.
Now alive in Christ.
Did life get easier? Not really.
Did pain disappear? No.
Did fear never again rear its head? Of course not.
But there were now three things I had alive that I never had while dead…
Specifically, love for myself. Love for the man God created. Love for the man I desired to be. Love for a broken man who finally made a right decision in life.
The same love that Jesus had in his heart for me when he died on the cross as punishment for my sins.
The same love that forgave me and allowed me to forgive myself.
The same love that now lets me see others through the eyes of grace.
The same love that revives the hearts of dead men and women every day.
The same love that has given me new life, new purpose, and new freedom.
The same love that is God.
God is love.
And that love never dies.
Matt Coker is the Ministry Director of The Back Row. He is married to a beautiful woman he met in youth group and they have one mischievous son together. Matt collects Funko Pop figures, loves time travel movies, and enjoys exotic jerky meats. You can contact Matt via the contact page or on Twitter at @BackRowBeliever, or his personal account, @MatthewSCoker.