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 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!