"Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life.
He who believes in me will live, even through he dies;
and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.
Do you believe this?"
In my spirit each year I want to learn more of Jesus and what Easter means. I don't want to miss anything. But this year I wondered if it was just too late. Even though things are good, there are things on the back burner, simmering. It is only a matter of time when they will come to a full boil.
With a recent sickness, travels and trying to hold onto the demands of work and school, the Easter decorations just never came out. This was the first Palm Sunday we missed, and I felt we missed the triumphant entry of our Savior. I know that I could rise from the couch and shout my own "Hosanna!", but it just wasn't the same. This was the first year we didn't do our Resurrection Eggs, as everyone's schedule couldn't bring us together. It was Thursday, when we usually recognize the last supper that I just gave up, threw in the towel and just accepted defeat as this was the first year in twenty that I missed whatever tidbit Jesus had for me to learn more of him and what this season is all about. Sadness grew in my heart.
It also didn't help that Easter egg hunts seem to take front stage, homework demands are great (as we are used to celebrating Easter break, not Spring break weeks ahead), and not the recognized day I remember as a child.
I asked Duane, if we could celebrate Good Friday a little different by seeing a movie; God's Not Dead. The name alone brought a recognition to what we were about to celebrate on Sunday. It was that night we talked about what impacted us in the movie or about this particular Sunday. And I made my claim. God's not dead ... not in our circumstances, not in the pot that seems to be simmering on the back burner.
I continue to wait and watch when Jesus will turn our circumstances in a different direction.
Easter Sunday came. We didn't hear about the stone being rolled away, or how they found the tomb empty, or even the time Jesus spent here on earth before going to be with our Father. It wasn't the usual Easter message. But instead in the passage of the death of Lazarus (John 11:1-44). I am still chewing on the words I heard, and ponder them more and more.
It was pointed out in verse 6 how Jesus stayed two more days, after hearing about the one he loved (verse 3) was sick. He didn't rush in. He didn't even speak words of healing. He waited.
Jesus soon arrived, but after Lazarus had already been dead for four days (verse 17). Martha, the one that was caught being too busy to sit at the feet of Jesus because of kitchen duties ran out to Jesus. Pastor Todd encouraged me by stating "when things happen in our lives and it feels Jesus hasn't shown up, don't run from God but to him". He also mentioned that it is easy to trust Jesus when things are going well, but God is an "even now" (verse 22) God, and we aren't to limit Him.
"The Resurrection isn't an event, it is a person!" It is Pastor Todd's thought that Jesus isn't weeping because of the sorrow of Lazarus' death, after all, Jesus knows what is about to happen, that he isn't going to be dead much longer, but he weeps because his people don't fully know who He is. Jesus says to Martha "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?" (verse 26-26)
And for the first time I read these words differently than ever before. For the first time ever, I experience hope and even joy.
Do you see it? I don't know your circumstances, but let me a little candid with you. Perhaps because there has been a stirring in my spirit for the past week, a knowing that God is getting ready to put something new before us. Every time I experience the excitement, and choose to trust the belief that the Holy Spirit is trying to share with me, a major tragedy comes forth. There is almost a battle going on for my faith.
But I choose to still believe.
I believe in the One who is the Victor as well as the Victory. I believe that the One who has never left me or forsaken me in the trials before, is the same in the trials now. I believe in the One who loves me more than anyone has. I believe everyone and everything has to surrender to His authority. I believe that there are no surprises to God, and His plan will come forth. I believe in the One that has my back. I believe that I am His creation, and because He has taken the time to create me, there is a purpose and a plan. I believe in the One that is ALL GOOD. I believe that all the mistakes and things I get wrong will be made right by the One who is all knowing.
And with a full belief and claim in the God I know, I read these verses again. Jesus is the resurrection and is the life. And because I choose to believe in him, I will live - even though I may die. And because I live in Him, believe in Him, I will never die. I will live as we face a lay off, even without our finances being in order. I will live through the challenges in rearing three teenage daughters. I will live as I watch our daughters make poor mistakes. And because I believe in Jesus, I will never die. All these challenges in our lives have no power to overtake me, they have no power to drown me...even though it feels like it some days, but Jesus has ALL the power to overcome. And because He will overcome - we will live!
We watch the death of a job come to an end. We watch a child grow more distant from us and make choices we taught otherwise. Jesus didn't rush in to save Lazarus before he died, but after he was well dead, so then it was clear that only Jesus could take credit for such a miracle. Jesus could have walked away, and just simply comforted the mourners. But instead, He showed who He is and the authority He has.
So as I watch the challenges that come to unfold in our lives, my eyes are fixed on Jesus. He will come. He will bring life in the midst of our death. And He will resurrect all of our circumstances and lives for all to see ... where He can get all the credit!