Because He Lives

I don’t remember the first time I heard the Bill Gaither song “Because He Lives” but it’s always been in the soundtrack of my spiritual life. We sang it frequently in my church growing up and, if I close my eyes and take a breath, I can still see our Director of Music, Earl, swaying his arms this way and that to the rhythm.

I remember my mom playing it on the piano at home. Her piano playing was rough and she read very little music. She pounded out chords by ear and hymns from our Baptist Hymnal were her favorites. She struggled to sing and play at the same time so sometimes she would stop and just belt out, “I know-oh-oh He holds my future. Life is worth the living just because He lives!”

My memories of my mom’s funeral are hit or miss. I remember only flashes of moments and I guess that’s okay. I remember a few of the people that spoke and the funny stories they told. I remember Chuck holding my hand ever so tightly through the entire service. We’d only dated a few months and it was a lot to ask of a nineteen-year-old but he held me up that day emotionally and physically. I remember my pastor reminding us all that suicide does not equal eternal damnation (even though there were many in the crowd who had already told me they believed that to be true). And I remember Iretta Stephens bellowing the words to “Because He Lives” through her tears; her voice declaring the power of the cross amidst the greatest grief most of us had ever faced.

I left that church (and that town) so many years ago but every time I hear “Because He Lives” I am transported back to some of the most beautiful and horrific memories of my life.
A few days ago I was driving home from work in my truck and had the radio on. My thoughts were racing through the schedule of the week – the lists, the to-do’s, and the what’s nexts. I was really only halfway paying attention to the songs that were playing, let alone the lyrics. Apparently my subconscious was though because as I turned onto the side road that leads to my house tears started streaming. They were streaming in a way that demanded I pull over. Matt Maher was singing, “Because He Lives” in a new and magnificent format. Have you heard it? (Hear it here.)

“I’m alive! I’m alive! Because He lives!”

I’ve gone through a lot in my life. Many times I’ve brushed it off as if it’s no big deal because I know I’m not the only one to know suffering. I’ve also had amazing greatness. I’ve swept a lot of that under the rug as well. But to say it’s all nothing – either the good or the bad – is to negate the power of Christ that has brought me to the other side.

“Let my song join the one that never ends!”

I have been a victim and I have victimized. I have been sinned against and I have sinned. I have been sick and I have celebrated health. But because He lives I can face tomorrow. He holds my life and my future in His hands.Everything good in my life is because of what Christ has done for me. His death and resurrection make all the good possible. He has allowed me to walk through darkness so that I can rejoice in His light. I cry out so often because the rain lasts so long but it’s because I have tasted the Son and my heart yearns to revel in His warmth.

“I’m alive! I’m alive! Because He lives!”

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