Then Jesus said,”Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?” John 11:40
Whoa. That is a pretty big question. But let’s put it into context for a moment. Jesus was about to raise Lazarus from the dead. Recall that Lazarus and his sisters were friends of Jesus. In Luke 11: 38-42, Martha hosted Jesus and His disciples in her home in a town called Bethany around 3 kilometers from Jerusalem during His ministry. While Martha is frantically serving and moving about the house, her sister Mary sat at Jesus’ feet just listening. Think for a moment about the conversations that occurred at this table in that home!
Flash forward. Martha and Mary were worried. Lazarus, their brother had become very sick. John 11:5 says that Jesus loved the trio of siblings and when Lazarus fell ill the sisters knew who they could rely on. They sent word to Jesus to let Him know that Lazarus is about to perish. Here’s where I find that the story becomes interesting. Jesus tells the disciples in verse 4 that Lazarus’ sickness “will not end in death. No it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” In other words, He was in control. There was a purpose.
In hard times, do you ever sit back and wonder,” Why am I being put through this??” I’m sure Martha and Mary thought the same thing after Lazarus became sick. Why do bad things happen to good people? It is unclear whether Lazarus lived with his sisters but we often associate men with being the head of the household especially in the time of Christ around 30AD. Regardless, it must have been concerning for Martha and Mary to see the upcoming loss of their brother. In panic, the ladies reach out to Jesus. Just like we do. But there is no indication of an answer sent back to the ladies. They must have been worried sick after Jesus didn’t come rushing to Lazarus’ side. I know I would have been incredibly upset!
The disciples are the ones to hear John 11: 4 and as verse 6 indicates, Jesus remained where He was and allowed Lazarus to die. And as Jesus tells the disciples,”Lazarus is dead and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.” Is it coincidence that a person that Jesus’ loves dearly was allowed to die just to teach us or provide us with an example experience? Is it slightly similar to John 3:16? I loosely place ourselves in the disciples’ position because like them, we are human. We doubt, we argue and we want to be the ones in control. We seek answers to unanswerable questions and yet without frustration or contempt Jesus teaches us because He knows that we need proof. So Jesus agrees to go to Lazarus, Martha and Mary in Bethany despite the resistance and danger that Jesus was in by traveling in the area. Again, risking His and the disciples’ safety for the people who He loves: Martha, Mary, Lazarus and the disciples. There is a lesson to be learned and Jesus was determined to reveal what the disciples and sisters did not know.
I challenge you to remain patient and keep awareness during the hard times of life. God is trying to use these moments to teach us or equip us to relate to others experiencing similar situations. But don’t forget, these moments are intended to bring God glory. Not us. And it is easy. We don’t have to study. We don’t have to work to earn it. We just need to remain faithful. God teaches us because He loves us.
Do you get nervous the morning of an early morning flight? I certainly do! The night before I am constantly worrying about leaving something behind, having my boarding passes ready and ensuring that I set my alarm clock so that I wake up on time. With all of the items crossed off the list, my husband and I went to bed with the alarm set for 5:30 a.m. because we were heading to Orlando International airport at 6 a.m. sharp.
Around 5:30 a.m. I abruptly woke up to the sound of knocking. It wasn’t knocking on the bedroom door but rather it sounded like someone was knocking on the door outside of my brother-in-law’s townhome which was just outside of our window. My husband didn’t stir but I was panicked. My heart began to flutter and I had trouble getting back to sleep. Here is where God comes in. My alarm was set for 5:30 a.m. remember? But my clock on my phone had not been updated to Eastern time from Central (we were in Florida) so we were scheduled to wake up an hour later that planned!!!! Chill bumps!!!
My husband and in-laws woke up with me and then we hurried to the airport. My husband and I gave quick hugs and dashed inside to check our bags finding ourselves in this enormous snake-like line! I should mention it was moving at a snail’s pace. The one hour cut-off for our bags to arrive guaranteed in Nashville ticked by. Grumbles ensued. After, what felt like an eternity, we reached the check-in counter, passed off our stuff and booked it for security. We joined the mass of folks and made our way through security with just enough time to use the restroom and make it to our gate. I felt like the McCallister’s in “Home Alone” running through the airport to make it on time.
As my husband and I boarded the plane, we reflected on how we could not have woken up a moment later or we would have missed the entire flight. No one else heard the knocking it turns out so I could only figure that it was God.
This story makes me wonder how many opportunities to hear God knock in our lives we have but we don’t pay enough attention to hear. We need to practice tuning our ears to hear Him in the silence of the night and even in the busyness of our lives. No matter what, God has our back!
I’m currently reading “What Women Fear” by Angie Smith and I cannot begin to express how much I love this book! It reaches such a broad scope of women and their fears such as what if…, of God, of failure and the like. Her candid writing and truthfulness shine through bringing the point of each chapter home. The book is one where each chapter I’m saying to myself,” I totally have or do feel that way!” Each time I sit down to read, I just keep plowing through it.
As I am reading the last chapter, which discusses the fear of failure, I find myself in a super frustrating situation at work. It is actually funny because I had a phone conversation with a lifelong friend and we concluded that as you get older, you learn how to manage your personal ticks and cues to work towards being a better person. I am a scientist and daily I work in a lab conducting experiments. Experiments can be very time demanding or in the “set it and forget it” variety. Yesterday, I finished an experiment that was very time demanding. At the beginning, I had to stay late and pull a twelve-hour day just to get it to a point where I could go home. From work, my kind, sweet husband ran to grab us dinner within walking distance because it was going to be a late night. But it was “ok.” I knew that this experiment was important to my work and so I cranked up the radio and got through it. Flash forward to yesterday. I analyzed the data from the experiment and noticed that after this very large, important experiment and all of the time and resources wasted that it didn’t work. Arg!!!
Anger and disappointment were my first two responses. Aversion to my job, my career path and my life choices came next. I was so overcome with emotion that I just had to gather my things, turn off the light switch in the lab and make my way home. Now bringing it back to the conversation that I had with my lifelong friend and “What Women Fear.” I realized that I wasn’t going to overcome anything by running away despite how badly I wanted to walk into my boss’ office and quit. Since my natural reaction to this type of negative result is aversion and disappointment perhaps instead of being paralyzed by my fear of the lack of success I could lean into the storm and let it carry me. In other words, perhaps it isn’t me who is a failure. There are a number of points throughout the large experiment which could have gone wrong. I may have physically done something wrong but that doesn’t mean that I failed. The experiment did. By leaning into the problem I gain control. I steady myself to take the backlash. To paraphrase Angie in her book, if you are on the path that God has provided for you, then you cannot fail because He won’t allow you to.
Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel. As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. And because of my chains, most of the brothers and sisters have become confident in the Lord and dare all the more to proclaim the gospel without fear.– Philippians 1:12-14 (NIV)
Courage. This is the second message coming out from these verses. I’d specifically like to focus in on the final verse. It is because of Paul’s chains that we are now more confident in the Lord and dare to proclaim the Gospel without fear. It took one man and his mission to generate that feeling of confidence within us. One person can make a difference. You’ve probably heard this before. But what you do today may inspire someone else to follow or take action. We were not able to witness Paul’s imprisonment, however, retrospectively we can understand what that meant to early Christians. Paul’s courage inspired courage within others. Doesn’t that make you want to be more outspoken and courageous with your faith? Who knows what sort of impact you may have on this world on behalf of our Lord!
It was once a scary time to be a Christian and in some parts of the world today it still is. Missionaries across the globe are spreading the Gospel in areas where it is discouraged and the could be reprimanded severely. But have courage. There are others who have gone before us. People like Paul. So speak out. Strike up conversations that you were once uncertain whether you should have. Let someone difficult know that you are praying for them. Spread God’s love.
01-06-10 I’ll Still Say That You Shone Brighter Than Anyone ~ Explored Front Page 🙂
That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched —this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. – 1 John 1:1 (NIV)
I was always taught that the first verses of John which describe the Word is actually describing Christ. He [Christ] was there in the beginning during the creation. He was with God until sent to heaven for us. This statement is validating the truth of God’s Word. That the text of the Bible aren’t in fact stories but rather truths from those, as John writes, were there to witness Jesus and all that he accomplished on this earth. And that testimony in this single verse provides great evidence at that truth. For me, it makes me feel honored to read these ancient words that were archived by someone who was there, that saw, that touched and witnessed.
What about us? Are we witnesses as well? Do we think of ourselves as continuing the story? Granted, we aren’t working on chapters of the Bible but are we tuning our ears and casting our eyes on the living Word of God around us? Are acting as living witnesses to those around us?
I wait for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning.– Psalm 130:6 (NIV)
Patience is a virtue or so they say. It is a quality that I certainly don’t practice very well. Like this Psalm I feel like I’m always waiting for the next answer to the problem, the next song on the radio and the next day. I never want to live in the present. It is that waiting that the psalmist captures but rather a waiting for God.
What am I waiting for God to do? For Christ to return to Earth? For God to answer my prayers? For a miracle to happen? It all returns to patience. Whatever you are longing for God to do, have patience. He will answer you. It may not be the answer you are looking for but it will be His answer for you. And I’ve found that when God’s answer to my prayers is “no” then He has something greater in store that I’m not aware of yet.
Make way for ducklings by shoothead “Flickr” cc
Now you, if you call yourself a Jew; if you rely on the law and boast in God; if you know his will and approve of what is superior because you are instructed by the law; if you are convinced that you are a guide for the blind, a light for those who are in the dark, an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of little children, because you have in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth— you, then, who teach others, do you not teach yourself? You who preach against stealing, do you steal? You who say that people should not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? -– Romans 2:17-22
Paul is telling us to “walk the walk” and “talk the talk.” Sure we can stand around all day and talk our heads off to others but we should be taking our own counsel. It is infinitely easier to tell someone else how to improve their life but why is it so much harder for us to figure out what needs to be changed. Take a look at your own life as is if it were someone else’s. What activities consume your time? Are you doing them to glorify God? How do you react towards others? Is it Christ-like? What behaviors do you notice would not be pleasing to God? I spend my free time before and after work often on the couch in front of the T.V. watching “Pawn Stars” or “American Pickers” when perhaps I could spend more time studying the Bible or writing this blog. We must be transformed throughout all aspects of our lives and this is one way to start.