I remember the moment, the exact moment I realized, that I was short. It was freshman year dance class. The teacher put us in a row, lined us up, and as I looked around I remember thinking, why am I down here with all the – I’m short. I’m short. What was clearly obvious, there was no doubt about what end of the line I would be in, was not obvious to me. This body I lived in, being short was a monumental revelation. I couldn’t recognize what was literally, literally right in front of my face every single day. And there are some things we just don’t, we don’t see, we don’t recognize, like our resurrected selves.
In our scripture today, Peter is brought to a woman who everyone says has died. People are grieving, they are weeping, they surround her. Peter sends the people out, spends time in prayer, and says the simple phrase, get up or arise! And she does. She sits up and Peter offers her help. He gives her his hand and raises her up. I can picture this scene in my head. Peter arriving at the house, so many people, so many voices and shouting and crying. He clears space, makes room, and prays. With all obstructions gone, he calls out her name, Tabitha, Tabitha, get up, arise! She opens her eyes, as though she had just been asleep, sits up, and sees Peter’s outstretched hand ready to bring her back to herself.
What Peter did for Tabitha, God does for us. Resurrection is both a future hope and a present reality, it is something offered to us here and now. Twice in Colossians it refers to our present risen nature. Colossians 2, “having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through your faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead.
13 When you were dead in your sins…God made you[d] alive with Christ.” Colossians 3, “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above…2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 3 For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.4”. Paul writes about our present resurrection, about here and now, and he continues in Colossians 3 telling the people, as we cast off all the toxic, unhealthy things that obscure and hold us back, God continually renews us. Just as Peter cast out the voices of death and spoke life. The greek word used when Peter “sends everyone out” is ekballo, a word also used when Christ casts out demons. This scene of Peter resurrecting Tabitha is what God offers us, wants for us, invites us to every single day.
Every day, there are voices that seek to define us. Voices of death, voices of pain, anxiety, fear, depression, greed, anger, and hatred. Voices that tell us we are unworthy, weak, and unlovable. That we are too old or too young. The voices of others, of society, and of our own inner critic. Unhealthy, toxic, harmful voices, that have no right to make a home in our hearts. Voices that need to be sent out to make room for God’s voice. The voice of truth. A voice that reminds us of our actual selves, our actual nature. A voice that calls us by name and says rise up. Get up, get up, from the muck that holds you down. Get up and know that you are loved, you are worthy, that you are not defined by your worst moments and mistakes. Hear my voice and get up, come back to your truest self. God tells us, arise and recognize the resurrection around you. There is hope, there is life, there is grace, there is love.
What voices need casting out from your head, from your heart?
How is God calling you by name? Holding out a hand to you?
Through friends and family, through scripture and prayer, through church and therapy, through medication and the Holy Spirit, God offers us power and help and raises us up into a new life that has been there, waiting for us to recognize it. You are renewed. All the other voices, just get in the way of what has been true the whole time. Restoration is already here. Like Tabitha opening her eyes, God calls you by name, holds out a hand, and raises you up.
Recognize the resurrection that is waiting for you.