Peter sent them all out of the room; then he got down on his knees and prayed. Turning toward the dead woman, he said, “Tabitha, get up.” She opened her eyes, and seeing Peter she sat up. He took her by the hand and helped her to her feet. Then he called for the believers, especially the widows, and presented her to them alive. Acts 9:40-41
This is a marvelous miracle — a restoration from the dead. Here is a woman known for her ministry of love and selflessness, and then this ministry was interrupted by death. But now, by the hand of God and the power of Jesus Christ, she is restored to ministry and she resumes her good works. Of course she later died again because this is but a picture, intended to teach us that this can happen to the human spirit too. Something can interrupt the progress of a spiritual life which is beginning to blossom, to flourish and bear fruit, to grow and minister to others. Some circumstance, some event or experience, can interrupt and change it and cause it to die. The person loses that zeal, earnestness, and eagerness, and becomes cold and hard, indifferent and unconcerned, bitter of spirit. He literally is like someone dead.
Many people are like that. Some have been dead for years and are still walking around. That reminds me of the famous comment by Dorothy Thompson, the newspaper reporter, when she heard of the death of Calvin Coolidge. She said, “How could they tell?” Many are like that. Their life of service has been interrupted by some incident which has been like the hand of death laid upon a zealous and earnest ministry. They have grown cold and indifferent, the very picture of death.
This can go on for years. Edwin Markham, the great Christian poet, once knew a banker whom he entrusted with the settlement of an estate. The banker betrayed him, and Markham lost all his money and was rendered penniless by the deed. It made him bitter and for several years he could write no poetry. Then one day as he was trying to write he was sitting at his desk aimlessly scrawling circles. As he doodled, making these circles, suddenly the thought struck him of the great circle of God’s love, of how it takes us in. He was struck with inspiration and wrote these words:
I drew a circle and shut him out;
Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout.
But Love and I had the wit to win:
We drew a circle that took him in.
He forgave the banker and was able to resume his ministry. After that came some of his greatest poems. This is what Jesus Christ can do. He can heal a dead spirit, raise it to life and restore it. He can heal the bitterness that may be in your life, rendering you cold and indifferent to the needs of others.
Lord, I pray that your Spirit would keep me alive and responsive to you, confessing my sin and allowing your life to work through me.
‘To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.’ Are we choosing life, seeking the renewal of our minds through honest confession of named sins? The alternative is spiritual death, the wages paid by sin.
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