Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. ... So the sisters sent a message to Jesus, "Lord, he whom you love is ill." But when Jesus heard it, he said, "This illness does not lead to death; rather it is for God's glory, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it." Accordingly, though Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus, after having heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was. Then after this, he said to His disciples, "Let is go to Judea again." ... When Jesus arrived, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days. ... When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him ... Martha said to Jesus, "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask of him." ... Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live..." - John 11: 1-27
I read this passage today, and noticed once again, that even with stories I have known for years, I sometimes hear them differently at different moments in my life. I believe that God nudges me to point out whatever might be most relevant to my life at the time.
Today, I thought about the larger picture. The slow faith, big picture we often can't see from the ground, in our lives. Martha got a glimpse of it, in that story, and I wonder if we can find ways to keep our eyes on it, too.
The Story of Lazarus & The Bigger Picture
Have you ever seen The Princess Bride? I hope I am remembering this correctly, but there's a moment where it is said about Wesley, both that he was only mostly dead, but also that he had been mostly dead, all day.
In the movie, Wesley recovers his life moment by moment and is finally, come fully back to himself and is able to save the day. But that was when he was only mostly dead.
In the Lazarus story, we have an actual death, and he comes back to life in a single moment of Jesus's healing. But then, Jesus had the power of God as his disposal.
Still, both stories point to the fact that even when it seems like the story is over, in the bigger picture, there may still be plenty of story left. And that, along with the echoes of Easter's dying and rising, is the point I want to make today...
Whenever a situation seems dead in the water - when your worst story seems to have come to an awful end - know that there may be a rising, a stunning reversal, just around the corner.
Or a new path you'd never have seen or found, may open up to you; one that's meant for you and finally there after walking through the pain of your current story.
Jesus loved Lazarus! But instead of coming right away, and healing him while he was only sick, he allowed Lazarus to die, knowing that story's true end, and wanting for Mary and Martha something even more powerful than immediate healing for Lazarus.
Because he waited, Mary and Martha experienced a miracle and a deepening of their faith, as did many around them who saw or heard what happened.
Even the death someone he loved very much was not a problem too hard for Jesus. Which means there's nothing in your life that you can't offer up to God and know that He's got your back.
The waiting, for resolution, for peace, may feel horrible! And you may be tempted to count Him out. To assume it's all over.
But reach for faith, that even while your faith feels like it is dying, God may have a resurrection planned.
And He is definitely up to something. Even when you can't see it yet, and can't yet see the bigger picture.
For surely, I know the plans I have for you, says the LORD, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope. Then when you call upon me and come and pray to me, I will hear you. When you search for me, you will find me; if you seek me with all your heart. - Jeremiah 29: 11-13
This is the story of Easter. But also a story that I believe we experience again and again in our lives.
The ending we think we see, in our story, is not really the end. The real ending is still on the way.
Can you relate to that, right now, in your own life? Is there a story you wish would resolve, already? Know that you are still in the dying phase. The rising is on the way.
Have a wonderful weekend!
And come back tomorrow for part two on the Lazarus story. In it, I offer ways to grow your faith using the next part of this story & journal prompts for exploring it.
We'll look at Mary's faith for inspiration and connect with Jesus's love for us.
See you then!
Most weren't looking for a faith that provided all the answers; they were looking for one in which they were free to ask questions.
I am delighted to have chosen this book as part of my reading life this year. Written by Rachel Held Evans, it's a story of her life of faith, but especially of her struggles to hold on to it.
Especially when she began to have doubts and questions that didn't get resolved.
I highly recommend it if you have ever had a crisis of faith, or walked away from your faith for a time, as I did.
I can't always say I feel closer to God - the doubts often return - but I think I'm finally beginning to understand that it's me who's moving, not him. Like salvation, evolution is an everyday process. I'm still changing & I always will be. -Rachel Held Evans
I loved getting to know her journey, but loved even more that the book didn't end with everything wrapped up tight. Reading between the lines, she points to living with the questions, living with your doubts, and taking them all straight to God.
I think the frustration that can come from wanting certainty can lead to wanting to walk away from faith. But from my own experience, doing that only leads to more uncertainty, or that's what happened to me, anyway.
Reading her book encourages me to let go of trying to find absolute certainty and be okay with the questions. But to not give up on faith or on God.
If you have read her book, I'd love to know your thoughts at the end! If you haven't, does it seem like a book that would appeal to you?
Do you like reading faith books, too? Get access to my lifestyle library. It includes posts about growing your faith, meal planning on a budget, hygge at home, perfecting your morning routine & other lifestyle topics.
See you next time!
Have patience with everything that remains unsolved in your heart. Try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms & like books written in a foreign language. Do not now look for the answers. They cannot now be given to you because you could no live them. It is a question of experiencing everything. At present you need to live the question. Perhaps you will gradually, without even noticing it, find yourself experiencing the answer, some distant day. - Rainer Maria Wilke
This year, I decided to create my own personalized list of slow faith books to read and I have been sharing my thoughts about them here.
Usually, I write one faith-book post each month. But this month, I'll post about one book each week, beginning today, with Book Girl, which was a delight to read...
"Do you struggle with loneliness, do you yearn for a beauty you can barely describe, do you hope for friendship, or do you just need some courage to keep fighting the small battles of the everyday? Then pull up a chair, brew a cup of tea, and join the fellowship here as we read our way back to beauty and courage, to laughter and strength, to life in its fullest grace."
-Sarah Clarkson, Book Girl