Wednesday, September 1, 2010

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,