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Death has lost its sting

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By Nancy Kennedy

About six or so years ago, I met a man who said he saw a dead man raised to life.
The dead man’s name was Bob and the man who told me about it said God had told him to go to Bob’s house to pray.
He didn’t know Bob had died until he got there, but since God had told him to pray, he figured he better do it. So, he asked Bob’s wife if he could see him.
The man had seen death before, and Bob was dead. Even so, the man started praying because God had told him so.
All of a sudden, Bob took a breath, or as the man described it, “He sucked all the air out of the room.” After that, Bob wasn’t dead anymore.
I don’t remember what happened next except the man told Bob he smelled bad and needed a shave. Then the man shaved his face all nice and tidy, slapped on some Brut aftershave and told Bob’s wife to cancel the funeral arrangements.
To this day I don’t know if that really happened. The man who told me is a Pentecostal preacher, and stuff like miracle healings and resurrections tend to happen when they’re involved.
They tend to believe that a dead man can get up and walk. I’m not Pentecostal, but I do believe one instance where that happened before.
On Sunday the world will celebrate it.
Let me say right here that I love Easter — I love it more than Christmas. There’s nothing about the holiday that makes me sad or nostalgic, no unmet expectations, no guilt over traditions that I’ve neglected to pass on to my children.
Just Cadbury Creme Eggs, jelly beans and the celebration of a once-dead man who got up and walked out of a sealed tomb and changed the world forever.
Here’s something that I think about often: The Bible says that the same power that raised Jesus from death is the same power that is “at work for us who believe” (Ephesians 1:19).
Feel powerless? The same power that gave life to a dead man — three days worth of dead — is the same power that God uses on our behalf, in us, through us, for us, because of us.
That power is what enables a person to have faith to begin with, to believe the most outlandish story that God stepped away from his throne in heaven to become a man by being born of a virgin, lived a perfect life, then took all the sins of humanity upon himself — past, present and future — died a brutal death in their place, came back to life three days later, then 40 days after that returned to heaven where he had always lived.
It takes incredible power to believe such a story.
That’s resurrection power.
It’s resurrection power that changes a human heart, enables liars to stop lying, haters to stop hating.
Resurrection power breaks the power of sin, takes away the craving for revenge, the lust for attention and approval and the need for control.
Resurrection power has kept me from destroying people with my tongue. Many times I’ve wanted to annihilate someone and I open my mouth to curse and out pops kindness instead. That’s power that isn’t natural. It’s supernatural and it’s a gift.
Resurrection power turns sadness into celebration, makes the impossible possible. Hearts of stone turn soft and pliable. Insecure and fearful hearts find security and peace.
Resurrection power turns God haters and the God indifferent into God worshipers and truth lovers. It changes the self-centered to other-focused.
Not all at once, but changed nonetheless.
Resurrection power removes the dreadful fear of death.
I used to be terrified of death (and almost as terrified of living). But somehow, for reasons God only knows, I was given the power and the grace to believe that a dead man came back to life. Because I believe, death has lost its sting for me.
God has promised that one day after I’m long dead and worm food, I, too, will get up and walk into eternity.
I know. It sounds utterly ridiculous, but not to those who have experienced resurrection power.
For us, it’s the gospel. It’s Easter’s good news.    
Nancy Kennedy is the author of “Move Over, Victoria - I Know the Real Secret,” “Girl on a Swing,” and her latest book, “Lipstick Grace.” She can be reached at 352-564-2927, Monday through Thursday, or via email at nkennedy@chronicleonline.com.