Dying to Live

John 11:5 – 15 NASB – 5 Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus6 So when He heard that he was sick, He then stayed two days longer in the place where He was.  7 Then after this He said to the disciples, “Let us go to Judea again.” 8 The disciples said to Him, “Rabbi, the Jews were just now seeking to stone You, and are You going there again?”  9 Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours in the day? If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world.  10 “But if anyone walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him.”  11 This He said, and after that He said to them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I go, so that I may awaken him out of sleep.”  12 The disciples then said to Him, “Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will recover.”  13 Now Jesus had spoken of his death, but they thought that He was speaking of literal sleep.  14 So Jesus then said to them plainly, “Lazarus is dead,  15 and I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, so that you may believe; but let us go to him.”

I was dying.

At times it felt like a physical death; I was  just that “sick”.  A message was sent to Jesus about my sickness, but He hadn’t shown up yet.  Where was He?  Was he going to come check on me, touch me, heal me?  Life seemed to be slipping away; I could feel it.

I was dying.

I was beginning to suffocate, being strangled by grief’s cold clammy palms around my neck.  Everything was so confusing.  Choices that seemed right yesterday seemed wrong painfully wrong today.  I was lied to, abused, and left for dead.  Money was gone.  Loved ones walked away.  New, pseudo friends slowly were now flaunting the vibrancy of their true colors.  Old friends invoked their right to remain silent when I desperately needed them to speak LIFE!   My dreams seemed only a draw bridge away, but suddenly, without warning, someone raised the bridge.  Now I was forced to find another route to the other side.  Once crystal clear vision was now blurred.  Nothing was certain.  Nothing was stable.  Nothing was real.

And I was dying.

Many around me were like the disciples surrounding Jesus.  They thought I was merely “sleeping” and assumed I would “recover”.  They didn’t realize how bad it was.  They didn’t realize I was slipping…. away….  But someone ran to tell Jesus about my sickness.  Though it seemed He tarried a very long time…(*sigh*)… He finally came.

But, in the meantime…I died.

When you’re in the middle of death, it’s not likely that you think about the fact that there’s life on the other side; Lord knows, I didn’t.   I mean for those of us who are followers of Jesus Christ, we believe that He rose after His death.  We believe that His spirit lives within us.  We believe He died so we could live.  And we believe that when we physically leave this earth, we will live eternally in heaven.  But very often, before we meet that physical death, we die 100 times over emotionally and spiritually.  Relationships die; jobs die; loved ones die.  Oh but when Jesus shows up….  Life returns!

There’s so much meat in the passage of scripture above, but as I read it I had two reactions:

1.  I wondered what Lazarus was thinking during all of this.  We know he was dying, but was his mind alert?  If so, what were his thoughts?  Did he know that his sisters sent a message to his friend, Jesus, to tell Jesus of his illness?  Was he wondering why it was taking Jesus so long to come see him?  Had he hoped to see him before he died?  Heck, did he even KNOW he was dying??  Did he know he may have to die but he would live again?

2.  I found myself reflecting on my life.  I flashed back to a time when life stretched me far beyond what I felt were reasonable limits.  I didn’t think I’d ever return to my original form.  It was all part of God’s plan.  He allowed me to become so weak in mind, body, and spirit – to seemingly die – so that He could command new life to enter my body.  I’m not supposed to return to my old form.  My death brought new and increased capacity for life.  He could have come swiftly, but I know the Lord tarried as I was dying so that when He arrived and called me forth into a new life, everyone would believe.  I would believe, and He would be glorified.

Jesus told the disciples in verse 15 “and I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, so that you may believe“.  Wow!  He was speaking to His entourage, those who were with Him all the time.  Yet He knew that there were still those among them who didn’t believe.  Hmmm….  Was that me?  Is that you?

For some reason, this post feels like a bit of a ramble.  It didn’t, at all, go in the direction I thought before I began writing.  I hope somehow it speaks to you.  If not… well, maybe this one was just for me….

Wise, Virtuous, Valuable,

This Sickness is Not to End in Death

John 11:1 – 4 NASB – “Now a certain man was sick, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha.  It was the Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped His feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick.  So the sisters sent word to Him, saying, ‘Lord, behold, he whom You love is sick.’  But when Jesus heard this, He said, ‘This sickness is not to end in death, but for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified by it.'”

Happy Monday everyone (or whatever day it is by the time you grace this post with your presence)!  This post was originally scheduled to go out on Friday, but I enjoyed the comments on the  Who Am I? post so much that I just had to celebrate those ladies a bit on Friday!  I really enjoyed sharing with you.  We’ll have to do that again soon.

Well, I’m trying to play catch up from my unexpected blog hiatus.  I hope you don’t mind.  (I told you I missed you! lol…)  In my post from last Monday, I shared that I have been lassoed by John 11:1-45.  This is John’s account of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead.  After doing a little research, I found that the book of John is the only Gospel that records this emotional story.  Just a little tidbit for your Bible trivia library.

Anyway, I have heard this story time and again, and I’ve read the book of John more times than I can remember.  But never has this story so sucked me in the way it did about a week ago, and I’ve been hooked ever since.  I mean HOOKED folks!  The best Christian Fiction or any other Fiction (and I know there’s some good stuff out there) has absolutely nothing on the raw truths contained in God’s word.

To date, I’ve received two comments on my I Have Missed You post from Monday, and each of these ladies expressed an interest in checking out the “goods” in this passage of scripture.  So I decided to end our week by sharing a few of my revelations, and then maybe some of you can chime in.

Let’s begin with the first four verses above.  The story opens by telling us that dear Lazarus – brother to Mary and Martha – is ill.  One of the first things I noted is that John was intentional in providing further identification of sister Mary.  Hmmmm….  I wonder what that was for.  Maybe we’ll toss around some ideas on that one later.

We can infer that Lazarus’ illness was pretty serious, because his sisters sent word to Jesus to tell him about it.  Their message to him was simple, “Lord, behold, he whom You love is sick.”  For me, this is where the emotion of this passage begins.  Just think about it.  How did you feel the last time you found out someone you loved was ill?  Not so great, right?  Although Jesus was perfect in every way, as He walked this earth in the flesh, He did experience the emotions we work so hard to keep in check today. I don’t know about you, but that thought is always comforting to me.

What captivated me and really started me thinking was Jesus’ response to the message he had just received.  He simply stated, “This sickness is not to end in death, but for the glory of God, so that the son of God may be glorified by it.”

After reading these words, I couldn’t help but begin looking at my own life, surveying my “sickness”, and wondering if maybe I’ve been looking at things through clouded lenses.  Am I sick physically?  No I am not, praise the Lord.  But there is “sickness” in my life.  There are places that look so ill, so weak until I can’t imagine how life could ever be revived there.  I’ll go a step further.  There are places in my life that even look, dare I say it, dead.  So I asked myself, “have I sent the message regarding my sickness to my Lord?”

And here is where I will stop, leaving you with a few simple questions and the four verses above to ponder.

1.  Are you struggling through a “sickness” today?  Maybe it’s a physical illness, or maybe it’s something a little less obvious – like a plague in your Finances, a virus in your relationships, or an infection in your emotions brought on by an open wound that’s slow to heal.

2.  Have you sent a message to Jesus regarding your “sickness“?

3.  Do you trust His answer?

4.  Have you considered that God’s plans are always to use your “sickness” for His glory?

5.  Will you let His perfect will be done?

Take time over the next few days and really give some thought to these questions.  Let me know if I can run to Jesus with the message of your “sickness” on your behalf.  I would be honored to do so.

Wise, Virtuous, Valuable,

P.S.  Next week we’ll continue this study of John 11:1-45.  Stay tuned…

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