Jesus

CryingeyesSo when Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him but Mary remained seated in the house.  Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”

When she had said this, she went and called her sister Mary, saying in private, “The Teacher is here and is calling for you.”  And when she heard it, she rose quickly and went to him.  Now Jesus had not yet come into the village, but was still in the place where Martha had met him. When the Jews who were with her in the house, consoling her, saw Mary rise quickly and go out, they followed her, supposing that she was going to the tomb to weep there.  Now when Mary came to where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet, saying to Him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”  When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled.

And Jesus wept.

John 11:20-21, John 11:28-33, John 11:35

Who would have ever guessed Martha would be the first to greet Jesus?  

In an unexpected turn of events, Mary sat unmoved in the opening scene of Jesus’ arrival. That is until Martha returned with the message that Jesus was asking to see her.  Hearing THAT changed something.  

She didn’t just move off his direction, she ran out of the house so quickly that the Jews who were with her followed in curiosity. 

I can’t help but wonder what kept her from running to Him in the first place?

This was Mary. The one who was so enraptured by Jesus that she could not be distracted by or worried about the commotion of guests and the preparation of food. She simply sat at His feet and did the ONE thing that mattered most. And He praised her for it.

This was Mary. The one who later anointed Jesus’ head with a vile of perfume so costly that it likely represented her family’s entire fortune. She had no thought but to worship and glorify the One she loved most in this world.

She was always so wholehearted in her devotion to Him. Here we would hardly recognize her.

This was Mary.  So bound up at home in her ________ that the announcement of Jesus’ arrival didn’t move her outwardly.

She just sat there.

Certainly, in the days leading up to this, she had prayed and longed for Jesus’ arrival and been keen to know the comfort of her Savior. Yet we don’t see her move until she knew that He desired her audience. 

It was only in the moment of hearing that He was asking for HER that we sense the resurrection of her shattered heart.

And in that moment – when her heart turned back to Him – the Mary we had come to know so well returned to us. And she RAN to Jesus.  She ran so fast, that she got to Him before he’d even had time to set forth from where he had met with her sister Martha. She saw Him and fell at His feet.

Then she wept.

I know this is conjecture, but I have the distinct impression that both of Lazarus’ sisters had mixed feelings in seeing Jesus on this side of their loss. Grappling inwardly with His not being there when they needed Him most must have been excruciating. Martha and Mary’s first words to Jesus were the SAME – “Lord, if you had been here, our brother would not have died.”  

And what they said had a note of truth in it. 

I’ve been there. Haven’t you?  Disappointed with God’s choice in a matter, I’d rather avoid him until the feeling passes than face Him down with what I’m really wanting to say.

But I can’t ever let this keep me from going to Him.

Whatever it was that held Mary (and I’ll never know her thoughts this side of heaven) the undeniable truth of this passage stands as a beacon to me today in my pain and wrestling.

It wasn’t enough to know He was present. Mary needed in this moment of raw humanity to know He was still calling out to her to join Him. And if I were to gain nothing else from this account, I must not miss this –

It was the GOING to Him that healed both the breach between her and Jesus and the brokenness in Mary herself. 

She was restored through the great gift of Jesus giving her what she needed most in her despair – Himself. 

“I am the resurrection and the Life…”

As Mary’s tears wet his feet this time, Jesus was overwhelmed with the enormity of what His friends were suffering so that God’s power might be made more broadly known. It actually moved HIM to tears.

He wept. 

Is there something that holds you fast today and keeps you from running to Him even though you sense He is near?

There is nothing you or I can ever think, feel, or wrestle with that can separate us from His love. He is not fearful of what we may say now that He has shown Himself!

If you will quiet your heart and listen carefully, I suspect you will hear Him calling out for you.

Run to Him.  Do not wait.  

Jesus stands ready not only to comfort us, but to enter into our grief and to weep with us as He prepares to move in miraculous ways.

Of two things I am sure:

  • He is working at something bigger than we can see or understand for He would never have us suffer without cause.
  • He is not done yet.

I would rather meet Him on the road, to receive the gift of His presence and be present for the miracle He has come to perform, than to only hear of it later from others who had the privilege of witnessing it firsthand.

Let’s not just sit there when the time comes.

He calls every one of us by name. My prayer is that we will always have ears to hear it.

Faith comes from hearing and hearing from the Word of God. – Romans 10:17

 

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So, I’m thinking I’m at least halfway now. My 45th birthday passed with very little fanfare a few days ago.  Everybody joked about it being my 25th or some other such nonsense, and I just kept thinking, “Hey now! I’ve been going 45 years straight.  That’s a good long way to run. Why would I want to pretend it’s any LESS than that?”

I did the math.  Yes I did.  I’m active, always have been, and I factored in my not walking for the first year plus some sick days.  I’ve had my fair share.

I’ve averaged 9,000 steps a day. This is actually a pretty conservative number since I’ve lived and traveled extensively overseas, always opted for the stairs and spent the last eight years walking to and through my work, which seldom affords me a seat.

I rounded down.  And best I can figure, it has still added up to no small journey.

148 million steps.

One foot in front of the other.

We are all going somewhere.  Every day we’re doing it.  Even when we don’t sense the momentum or have lost our vision, by God’s grace, we remain in motion.

Even on a sickbed we are actively engaged in this thing called living.  Sometimes I think those are the miles that have mattered most in my journey.  The ones spent running hard after God in prayer and praise and study because my feet couldn’t even hit the ground that day.

He redeems it all.

Making a hard stop on my birthday this year did something for me. It gave me a moment to count strides, and in so doing, I was pretty blown away by the distance covered.

The race marked out immediately ahead of me is steep.  It’s uphill for a good long stretch.  I don’t feel equal to the task.

I’ve been having to wrestle fear to the ground before I can even begin the climb.  This is a fresh opportunity to trust the Lord.  I can always trust fear to provide that.

I’m grateful that God has allowed me a moment’s pause at base camp to reflect on the simple truth that great things are accomplished, and races are won, one step at a time.

Praying.  Praising.  Trusting.  Pressing FORWARD.

Putting toes in the water, even if it hasn’t parted yet.

One foot in front of the other.

It’s all moving me towards Him.

“My dear child, don’t shrug off God’s discipline, but don’t be crushed by it either. It’s the child He loves that He disciplines; the child He embraces, He also corrects.  God is educating you; that’s why you must never drop out. He’s treating you as dear children. This trouble you’re in isn’t punishment; it’s training, the normal experience of children.     Hebrews 12: 5-7  (the Message)

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