On Monday, I asked you to share your first thoughts about how you feel when you do that thing that makes you come alive, or when you are living your life in a way that pleases you. Your words and images were stunning. Here are a few of them that were said several times.Some of you said scared or desperate or terrified. And all of those were followed up with hope. Like many of you, I’ve been reading about the arrest of Jesus this Holy Week – about his conversation with Pilate, his cross-carrying, his burden-bearing, his death.

As I read our words describing how it feels when we are living life fully, my mind kept pushing me toward the word resurrection. How appropriate that living with our souls awake carry hints of the resurrection life. When we embrace our true design, we experience little tastes of the resurrection, of Jesus coming alive in us, of us coming alive within ourselves.

But new life is only possible when the old life dies. We look at Jesus, his feet walking the one way dusty road to death. He had to die before anything was resurrected.

Mourning precedes morning; death comes before the dream. We long for the magic, the freedom, the glory and the joy. But are we willing to embrace the death that must come first? 

We are all walking our own dusty roads. We are none of us exempt from the prerequisites of a joyful release – death, surrender, and humility. But the cross is beautiful because those heavy companions do not come alone. We do not have to bear their weight.

From that first death in the Garden when God gave Adam and Eve coverings for their shame, when he punished another with the punishment meant for them,

From generation to generation, where the lineage of Jesus was carried by invisible hands through floods and wars and betrayal and fear and mess and triumph,

From the love words from the angel to the young virgin who said yes, from the man who accepted her even though he could have left, from the stable to the temple to the hillside to the water-wine to the garden to the cross …

first comes love.

God left a love-trail through history, and it all points to the resurrection. And even though death precedes new life, love came first to pave the way. Love is the invisible hand of God made visible on the cross, in the tomb, through the resurrection.

I have felt that death within myself as I’ve grasped for creativity or influence or joy. I am learning how Christ’s love-sacrifice of death holds hands with my longing for importance, and how his rising to new life sets me free from myself. Especially, lately, in the area of creativity.

And so anything we do on earth that brings any kind of joy or delight or fullness was made possible by death, because first comes love.