I grabbed a jacket as I was running out the door Monday morning. It was a gorgeous day, but the wind made me question whether I would need the extra layer as I ran. I don’t have any spring running attire, so I put on one of my hubby’s old work jackets. It was so comforting to wear something large and it engulfed me just like his arms use to. I swallowed the lump in my throat and took off down the street.
I was barely onto the next block when God began to talk to me about grave clothes. How appropriate since the day before was Easter and our Lord had miraculously left His grave clothes laying undisturbed in the tomb. Why was He speaking to my spirit about that? Grave clothes can be related to spiritual and emotional garments we wrap ourselves that are unrelated to our physical death.
Here is what Christian Frazier says at sermoncentral.com:
Grave clothes are not necessarily what you are wearing but a state of being and a state of mind. Grave clothes represent the things we used to do when we were spiritually dead. Grave Clothes represent addictions and worldly things that we hold on to. Grave Clothes also represent things in your past that you keep holding on to. Grave Clothes represent depression, Grave Clothes represent our limited beliefs in what GOD can do in our lives. One problem is that some of our grave clothes are so comfortable we don’t want to take them off.
There are a quite a few places in the new testament that instruct us to remove something or lay it aside. Laying Aside in the Greek is translated apothemenoi which means to take off or put away.
Grief over any type of loss (death, divorce, loss of job, loss of health etc) has a cycle that needs to run its course, however, God never intended for us to stay in the cycle. It is not meant to be worn over a long period of time like grave clothes. A great example of how NOT to grieve over the loss of something or someone is given to us in Genesis:
Genesis 37:34-35 Jacob tore his clothes in grief, dressed in rough burlap, and mourned his son a long, long time. His sons and daughters tried to comfort him but he refused their comfort. “I’ll go to the grave mourning my son.” Oh, how his father wept for him.
At that moment, Jacob must have made everyone else who loved him feel like the only person worth living for was the one whom he thought was dead. He vowed to hold on to his grief out of some sense of duty or guilt, that would in fact rob him of a large portion of his own life. Would the person who passed away or divorced us want us to wreck our own lives as a result of the loss? In most cases, absolutely not!
Sometimes you are fighting hard to get through your grief cycle and be healed but it seems like others can’t see your healing. I have a dear friend who battled cancer twice (she has been cancer free for over 5 years!). As she was walking out her healing with the Lord, other people kept seeing her with grave clothes on. Even at her daughter’s birthday party no one would talk about anything else but the cancer diagnosis. They stared at her with sympathetic, puppy eyes silently pronouncing death over her with their thoughts. I remember her saying to me that she was hoping for this one day everyone would forget about her temporary loss of health and focus on the party instead. She survived that party, her well-meaning friends and family with the puppy eyes and the cancer. She is one of my heroes. I learned so much from her as she walked through the grief cycle. I watched her remove her grave clothes as she partnered with Jesus every step of the way.
Are you wearing any grave clothes today? If you are experiencing any kind of loss, educate yourself on the cycle of grief and loss. Make sure you are moving along the path in a healthy manner. If you are stuck, get help. Tell the Lord that you appreciate the life and the time He gave you on this earth. Ask Him to help you to not remain stuck in the grieving cycle wearing grave clothes that maybe have become too comfortable.
Be patient with yourself and heal in God’s timing. As I rounded the corner that day toward home, I removed my husband’s jacket from my shoulders and tied it around my waist. It was a symbolic act of being one small step closer to the final step of the grieving cycle. That stage is acceptance.
Hebrews 12:1-3 (The Message)
12 1-3 Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we’d better get on with it. Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!