Feeling a bit like a caged tiger these days? It’s amazing how small the immediate boundaries of our existence are, once you remove the roving factor. As we isolate ourselves, we’re finding out that the basics of life -shelter, food, drink, companionship and even amusement, necessary though they are, do not fully satisfy. Other intangibles are required to fulfill our souls and make us feel truly alive.
This little blue planet third from the sun is teeming with energy, bursting with communications, burgeoning with innovation and exploding in population. But these days, we’re being forced to look inward, which, for most of us, is uncharted territory. The truth is, we’ve never been in control. Being alive is, at the best of times, being on a metaphorical open raft on a river in full torrent. It’s characterized by turbulence and change interspersed with very few tranquil moments. But now, with our external bustling curtailed, it’s a revelation of just how chaotic our inner landscapes really are.
Personally, I’ve found this last Easter season in self-quarantine to be particularly poignant. All the questioning and confusion of the disciples, which from our after-the-fact perspective seems a little silly, is suddenly vividly real. What are you doing Lord? What are you talking about? What do you mean? I don’t get it! You can hear the inner mutterings trailing behind Jesus as He sets His face to the Cross. The tempo of ministry shifts into life-and-death perspective in John 11, with the story of Lazarus.
Remember Mary and Martha? They call to Him in desperation as their brother falls perilously ill. As the news reaches him, in a completely unprecedented response, Jesus does nothing. You’d think He’d high-tail it over to his beloved sisters, but no. He deliberately stays away. As we read the story, there’s a whirlwind of confusion swirling around all concerned…disciples, bystanders, sisters. Nobody can figure out what’s going on. The Lord seems to have lost it. When Jesus finally arrives, the worst has already happened.
Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha said to Him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?” John 11:23-26 NKJV
The Lord walks right into the middle of the mourning and calamity and turns the whole thing on it’s head with three little words “Lazarus, come forth”. That day, all witnessing understood that He possessed power over death…something they had never seen before, and certainly were not expecting. In their most extreme faith, they could not have envisioned the authority and victory that transfixed the day.
We’ve got trouble, we’ve got tragedy. We’ve got Covid19. For a couple of months now, we’ve been crying out to heaven, expecting (and rightly so), an answer, a deliverance. The heavens seem as brass, however, and supernatural relief nowhere in sight. Every day, the dire predictions multiply. The worst has happened, is happening. We’re three full days into deep in death, and the bodies are piling up. Where are you, Lord?
Wherever Jesus reigns, resurrection is at hand. But this story sets a precedent, remember?
Thou fool, that which thou sow is not quickened, except it die… 1 Corinthians 15:36 KJV
Whenever we enter a new era, corporately or personally, a dying process is involved. That is so hard to grasp, but consistently true, and in most cases, like the death of Lazarus, openly offensive. I don't know why He is allowing plague to ravage the planet; there are no simple answers. The Lord is taking us into a broader, more liberated understanding of life. He is not ignorant, vengeful, hard-hearted or slow. His timing is perfect, rendering something far larger than we can dream or imagine. He’s working wonders beyond our wildest reckoning, so we’ve got to press in, pray with faith, and think bigger. We won’t be going back to the way things were before.
Being alive is more than mere existence...the daily grind. Life flows out of relationship with the Lord, who gave it to us. Without this vital connection, we’re really just existing, without really experiencing life abundant at the level Jesus Himself died to give us.
Be careful what you settle for. Don’t be defined simply by an orderly schedual successfully executed or ambitions realized. Your life is so much more, powerfully significant. If you are in Christ, you are a carrier of the resurrection! You are truly alive.
It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life. John 6:63 NKJV
cb Image by Bing