"because He loves us, He remains where He is"...quite possibly the hardest thing I have ev
I have literally been every person in today's Gospel.
Well, except for Jesus, of course.
I have been Martha; faced with tragedy, yet able to still say, "but even though you didn't come through for me in the way that I asked, I still believe in You...that You are at work."
I have been Mary; who upon seeing Jesus in the midst of great sorrow and distress, falls to the ground weeping saying, "If you had been here...this wouldn't have happened!"
And I have been Lazarus; completely dead, bound up, and stuck behind a large stone, that by the grace of God, was removed by those faithful people around me who heard the Lord's command to step in, and obeyed.
The Martha in me believes that even when things look dead and hopeless, God is still real and keeps His promises. But also, like Martha, when God asks me to do the seemingly impossible, pointless or ridiculous, I feel like I need to pull Him aside and let Him know why what He is asking of me makes zero sense, kind of stinks, and that He might want to reconsider. ("Lord, by now there will be a stench; he has been dead for four days. Duh.") Good thing Jesus had Martha to point these things out.
The Mary in me can sit at the Lord's feet for hours, which is great for my soul, but no so much for the housework, because while prayer is the highest priority, clean underwear is a close second, and as I have learned, prayer does not do the laundry. And yet, despite this great love and desire to be with the Lord, like Mary, I can turn on a dime and cry out to Him from the depths of my soul...not saying "even so" or "even if" but leaving my weeping at "IF YOU HAD BEEN HERE".
Be honest. You, too, have made this claim against Jesus, haven't you?
This is a prayer I am all too familiar with. This is a prayer I once prayed in an empty Church on the ground curled up so small, for nearly six hours. This is a prayer I prayed as I watched ambulance after ambulance drive past me. This is a prayer I prayed as I sat in a police station, a hospital, on the floor of my closet, and in and empty parking lot. This is the prayer of a close friend of Jesus, that while it acknowledges God's power and trust in Him, at the same, highly questions His timing.
Because I mean, honestly...have you ever had this happen? Have you ever cried to the Lord out of the depths of your soul and still felt utterly alone, abandoned, and terrified, because nothing was changing? Have you ever waited at the foot of the cross for so long that you just gave up? Because truly...if He has the ability to cure, heal and perform miracles, why won't He cure, heal and perform the miracles we cry out for? Doesn't He love us?
Today's Gospel says, "Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So when he heard that He was ill, he remained for two days in the place where he was." And to our human minds, this makes no sense. You might even think it's a typo! Perhaps it is supposed to read, "Now Jesus didn't really care that much for his friends. In fact, he found Martha a little controlling and annoying...and so honestly, he was in no rush." But we know it's no typo. We know the intimate relationship he had with Mary, Martha and Lazarus. And so we read and believe that because He loved them, he waited.
Does this bother you?
I sat with this for a long while this morning.
I have been reflecting on my own waiting on the Lord and all of the varying Martha, Mary and Lazarus responses I have demonstrated, depending on the spiritual season I was journeying through.
And to be honest, although I wish we didn't have to wait so long, I get it. I see its power. I trust that God knows what He is doing. And in my moments of doubt...when it just feels too far off and I run low on hope...I remember my own open grave, my own cave, my own stone, my own hands and feet tied.
And then...because of God's love for me, I can remember my own rising.
When the power of the love of Christ rises you from a spiritual death, all your personal kingdoms fall, leaving you with a desperate longing to serve in the One And Only Kingdom, the Kingdom of God. No matter how long the wait...because of His love that has unbound you, you trust.
If I had not had this encounter and if my circumstances were not better than they were just a couple of short years ago, today would kill me. Seriously.
My heart is full of compassion for those of you who were already in personal crisis, before the world's crisis hit. Specifically, for those families with a loved one who is in need of significant help, are in a life and death situation, and you are confused and in distress and feel trapped because you have no where to go and no one to turn to. If this is you...I offer up my entire day, thoughts, actions, words, joys, sorrows, everything...for you.
I know what it feels like to doubt in the power of Jesus's love for you. I know the pain of waiting forever for the Lord to answer your prayer. I know the anger that can build up towards a God who has the power to heal...but instead, remains in place. And to you I say...Jesus weeps with you.
And to you, in personal crisis, I know...that doesn't feel like enough.
He remains in place, so that when He moves mountains, we don't miss it.
Until then my prayer will be,
Unbind your people, Lord.
Let them go free.
Your brother will rise, my sweet ones.
Easter is almost here.