In the final segment of our journey to Lazarus’ tomb, we run back to the house with Martha (all hyped up from the sermon), and find Mary….sitting in a chair (not hyped up on anything). Mad. She’s big mad too. Think about it. You tell Jesus you have a problem, knowing that if He just….shows up…your problem will be resolved. You call your friend, and He….doesn’t show up. As a result, your problem shifts from bad to the absolute worst, and NOW He shows up. Four days. FOUR DAYS, and now this man….what Martha? huh?! Jesus is looking for us? He’s got something to say?! Oh snaps! Let’s go!
Mary heard that Jesus was looking for her & she immediately got up & ran to Him. However, what if she hadn’t? What if she’d stayed in her seat? Well, I think that the miracle would’ve continued (because this miracle was sooooo much bigger than her), but she would’ve missed it. If she’d stayed in her seat, she would’ve missed a moment with God. She would’ve seen the result, but she would’ve missed the process….and those around her would’ve missed it as well. I said all of that to ask you this (somewhat random) question: how many moments have you potentially missed because of your feelings? How long will you let your temporary feelings & situations distance you from an eternal God?
Well, Mary finally makes it to Jesus, and says the same thing Martha said in our last post. (Read that break down here if necessary) She’s crying, Martha is (possibly) crying, the bereavement committee that was with them start crying. Everybody’s in tears, and in this moment, Jesus feels their pain. John 11:33 says that He groaned, or was deeply moved by their grief. He knew it’d be ok in the future, but He still felt their pain at His core. He completely understood the consequence of His decision. I think that so many times (especially in this…madness we call 2016), we believe that God doesn’t care about our tears. We hear hype on Sundays, and that seems to fall short when the next tragedy strikes. However, I find comfort in the fact that He doesn’t just know how it will end, but He feels the pain that I feel. He understands our aches, our grief, and our tears. God has feelings, you know, and those feelings can identify with your present situation AND provide hope for the future at the same time. (ain’t He good?!)
Jesus does something that I think is pretty powerful here: He asks her “where’d you lay him?”, and moves towards Lazarus tomb. Once again, I think that He’s asking us the same question today. Where’d you lay your joy? Where’d you lay your peace? Where’d you lay your prayer life? Where’d you lay your love? Where’d your hope go, boo? At what point did you decide that He was done with you? At what point did you step into a tomb and decide to settle for inhaling & exhaling instead of living an abundant life? Do you even know when you decided to let go of your faith? Well, I need you to try & remember, because I believe that today, He wants to start the resurrection process.
Once Jesus gets to the tomb, He sheds a few tears…and gets to work. First, He has somebody remove the stone. Here, we have to insert sweet Martha’s reminder that Lazarus has now been dead for 4 whole days. Dude is dead…dead dead. There is no resuscitation, or chest press that will bring him back. Why are we removing the stone? Do you not know that it STANKS (no, not stinks) in there?! We’re removing the stone because it’s part of the process. It’s not necessarily a pretty part of the process, but Jesus isn’t afraid of your stench. So many times, we act like Martha. Let’s be honest, death stinks. Even after something dies, it leaves a terrible smell (this didn’t happen recently, so there was no fancy ‘let’s not have a stinky death process’ in place like the ones we have today). The same is true in us. There’s a stench left when something in us dies. We “smell” it in our memories. We “smell” it in our destructive habits. We “smell” it in our sadness. The stench of whatever has died in your life may not even impact you any more. You may be used to it. Many times, we’ll try to present our best selves to God or in church, and we don’t admit that somewhere in there….there’s a stench. Something in us is dead dead. Suga, He’s not worried about your stench, He’s worried about your soul. When God is ready to free you, He’s ready to free you, and no stench can keep Him from you.
I used to work at a jail (random fact of the day), and there were plenty of times when the court dates for the inmates I counseled would get pushed back. Many times, they found out the day of the court date or the day before, which was disappointing because their court date could lead to (if it didn’t become) their release date, depending on how their court date went. I said that to say this: with God, your freedom date doesn’t get pushed back. Death can’t keep you from freedom. Disease can’t keep you from freedom. People can’t keep you from freedom. Nothing, NOTHING can push back what the saints of old called ‘due time’. To me, ’due time’ is like….a timer set that can only be shut up when God does what He needs to do. So, in due time, Jesus will do to you what He did to Lazarus: He called him out of death by name. Verse 44 says that Jesus cried out with a loud voice “Lazarus, come forth!” Now, the saints of old say that if He hadn’t specifically called out Lazarus, then Lazarus would’ve gotten out of the grave, Moses would’ve come out of the grave, Joseph would’ve gotten out of the grave, good ol father Abraham would’ve gotten up, and dead people everywhere would’ve been walking around (scaring the daylights out of people), because Jesus is just that powerful. Well, He called Lazarus out because this moment wasn’t Moses’ or Abe’s or Joseph’s moment; it was a moment specifically set aside for Jesus and Lazarus. Would you dare to believe that the same is true for you? That He not only knows your name when others have put you in a grave, but that He’s calling you out today by your name, and commanding you to come forth.
I believe that He’s calling forth somebody’s finances. He’s calling forth your joy. He’s calling forth your health. He’s calling forth your peace. He’s calling who you’re meant to be out of the grave of who you used to be. Now, like Lazarus, you may come out of that grave tied up in residue from your past condition, but as He did then, Jesus will stand before you & command those things to let you go (and they’ll follow suit). It’s a process, but it’s definitely possible.
I’ve spent three weeks trying to give you one message: God can breathe life into any dead thing in your life. He doesn’t need your deadlines. He may intentionally let those deadlines pass, but you have to have an “even now” level of faith that believes that even if something is ‘dead dead’, He can revive it in due time. It’s typically around the time of our deadlines that the enemy starts to plant seeds of doubt & discouragement, but please know that whatever he says is nothing short of a lie, and that if you run to Jesus (despite His apparent tardiness), He’ll not only do a miracle before your very eyes; He’ll use you to bring others to Him. One of my big brothers put it like this: “Jesus said no to Lazarus’ healing so He could say yes to Lazarus’ resurrection.” The same may be true for you. If you feel like God has let something die, trust that He will either resurrect it or replace it with something better, but you’ve got to hold on to see exactly what He’ll do. You’ve got to step out of your emotions, and into your faith. Once we do that, we typically realize at the end what He said at the beginning: this is for the glory of God (and if He gets the glory, you get the victory).
Background Music: Lies - William Murphy
Words from the Author
At the end of the day, these posts are the thoughts that run through my mind. These are the lessons I've learned. The doors that I've walked through. The path I've chosen. This is part of what it means to be me. Hopefully, it'll help you be...you. Let's grow together, kay?
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