God raised us up with Christ. ~ Ephesians 2:6 (NIV)
Essie Dunbar was a popular figure in her small town of Blackville, South Carolina. Essie had a delightful smile and she had a family who dearly loved her. She died in 1962 at the age of 70 years. Her death notice, however, said something unusual. It read, “Essie Dunbar. Died at age 70, 47 years after her first funeral.” Here is Essie’s story.
The year was 1915. Essie was a cheerful young woman. She did, however, suffer from periodic seizures. One day she underwent a seizure so severe that she appeared to be dead. A doctor examined her body, saw no signs of life, and concluded that she had, indeed, died. Dark grief smothered everyone who adored Essie and her shining smile. The family arranged for her funeral and her burial. At the conclusion of her committal service at the cemetery, loving hands carefully lowered her casket into the grave.
Just then, a late-coming relative arrived. She was so distraught at having missed the funeral that she asked if they could lift Essie’s casket back out and open it, so she could see her one last time. The family agreed to do so.
As it turns out, the timing could not have been better. At the precise moment the casket was re-opened, Essie Dunbar opened her eyes, sat up and gave everyone there her big, wonderful smile. Needless to say, no one living around Blackville, South Carolina would ever forget the story of Essie Dunbar.
As thrilling as her story is, however, even Essie’s experience is no match for what the Lord has done for you and me. In a spiritual sense, you and I were dead and buried—dead and buried under the crushing weight of our own sins. But then, Jesus arrived. He lived a holy life on our behalf. He suffered and died for our every failure. Then he rose from the grave.
And now, through faith in Christ, God has raised us up. He has given us life—a life that pulsates with joy, hope, light, and peace in Jesus. It is now our privilege to smile on others, as the Lord has smiled upon us.
Heavenly Father, thank you for raising me up. Thank you for smiling upon me and giving me life in Jesus. Empower me by your Spirit to smile on others. Amen.