Thursday, July 03, 2008

Nothing to do with Knitting!

A friend sent me this email today. I am simply going to post it the way she sent it. It moved me greatly, and I am so glad she responded to the nudge to share this among friends. If you are not someone who believes in this sort of offense intended, and if you are I hope you are as blessed as I was. We live in troubled times and encouragement can be like a glass of cool water!

Hello Friends, brothers and sisters in the Lord,

This morning I had a devotion that I thought wasn’t just for me so I’m passing it on for whomever these scriptures can encourage.

The truth is: God never lets us down. That’s the truth.

But this morning, I think I found a story about a woman who was disappointed with God because she thought he had let her down. You’ll know the story, so I won’t go into the details, but I’ll highlight the scriptures I personally never paid that much attention to until today.

John 11:20 "When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him, but Mary stayed at home."

I don’t think there are ever any unnecessary words or details in the Bible. I believe they all have significance. So what’s the significance behind the information that Mary stayed at home? Is it because she didn’t know that Jesus was nearby? I don’t think so.

I think she knew and she stayed at home on purpose. The same Mary who didn’t let busyness keep her from his feet. The same one so commended by God for seeking him first, is now staying at home. That’s a little unlike her. So what’s going on?

Well a lot is going on. Her brother just died. Before that the sisters had sent word to Jesus to let him know he was sick and asked him to come. But he didn’t. The situation grew worse and more than likely they were probably going to the door frequently and anxiously looking for any sign of him. You know the feeling. "Where IS he?" "Did he get our message?" "What is taking him so long?" And then the rest of the story, Lazarus breathes his last. He’s gone. I have been there. It caused me to start hyperventilating. I ran from the scene. It makes you sick. It makes you start to weep like you have never cried before and all I kept repeating was "No, no, NO!!" Death is horrible and oh so painful. The kind of pain that wakes you up in the middle of the night and hits you all over again like a ton of bricks and it goes on for who knows how long. You don’t know how many days, weeks, months, years it will take for the pain to start to subside. You have dreams where they come back and you see them again and then you wake up. It is painful.

But now Jesus is here. Better late than never?? Not really. What they feared has happened. It almost doesn’t matter now. Or does it?

I think she stayed at home because she was disappointed in Jesus and maybe, yes, just a little angry. We try not to admit it. We know God doesn’t deserve our anger. But we’re confused. We’re hurting and pain can cause us to put our shield of faith down and those fiery darts get through. We don’t have the strength to fend off the doubts and they’re making us question everything we know about God.

So she stays at home. I’ve done it too. We skip the quiet time because we’re secretly harboring resentment against God. Sometimes we don’t even know it. But it’s kind of like we’re giving God the silent treatment. Letting Him know "if you’re not on my side and you’re not going to help me, I’m on my own and I’m not sure I have time for you."

Verse 28 – "The Teacher is here," she (Martha) said, and is asking for you (Mary)."

Hmmm… You think Jesus knew? You think Jesus knew that Mary was staying away on purpose? You think He knew that she was broken hearted, confused, weak, angry? I think so. Does he give her the silent treatment back? No. He loves her. He has compassion. He knows she’s hurting and he wants to comfort her. So he’s asking her to come to him. He asks us the same thing – "Come child. Don’t stay away. I know where you are. I know what you’re thinking and what you’re trying to figure out. And I have the answers. But the answer is really just one thing – ME. So don’t shut me out. You need me right now and I’m here. So Come."

And she does. She falls at his feet, crying, and the questions, half way accusations, start pouring out – If you had been here, my brother would not have died. Make sense of it Jesus. Tell me why this is happening. You could’ve prevented it. Why didn’t you? How many countless others have asked the same question.

When Jesus saw her weeping…he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. And then the famous verse – John 11:35 – Jesus wept. The easiest one in the whole Bible to memorize.

So many people have taken a stab at what he was crying about. Even the Jews that day were trying to figure it out – "See how he loved him!" "Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this many from dying?" Was he crying because he loved Lazarus and was sad that he was gone. Umm…. he knew that Lazarus was about to be raised back to life. We’re the doubts bothering him? Yeah, I’m sure they were, but he didn’t cry when Martha expressed the same thing. Call me simple. I think he was crying because Mary was crying. I think he felt her pain and "whoever touches you, touches the apple of his eye." He knows better than we do how much pain sin has caused this fallen world. Romans 12:15 says "weep with those who weep." If that is what God commands us to do, do you think he does anything less? I don’t know about physical tears, but I think God’s heart still breaks when ours does.

So no lecture. No explanation. Tears. Jesus wants us to know we’re not alone. He’ll go through it with us. He’ll carry all our pain not on his shoulders, but in his heart and he’ll get us through. – "What a Friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear. What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer. Oh what peace we often forfeit, oh what needless pain we bear, all because we do not carry everything to God in prayer. Are we weak and heavy laden, cumbered with a load of care? Precious Savior, still our refuge, take it to the Lord in prayer."

And then the glorious end of the story. There is no more commentary on it, but you can imagine, can’t you? Mary and Martha running to Lazarus, tears turning not just into smiles, but even laughter as they quickly unwrap him, throw their arms around him, still crying, but this time tears of joy, kissing him and being surrounded by everyone else.

And then the look back to Jesus. I’m sure Mary did. Looking over her shoulder, past the crowd and seeing his peaceful, quiet, loving expression looking back at her. Not condemning her. So pleased that she was happy again. Yet you know what she felt. I’ve felt it. You’ve felt it. That little sting of remorse in our hearts when we realize we’ve doubted God and he once more came through. He always does. He never lets us down. That’s the truth.

No doubt there were other looks at Jesus that day; jaw dropping, shocked, amazed looks like the ones the disciples had after he stilled the storm. There is much to be learned from this story, but this morning God made one more point with me.

What about when He doesn’t raise people back to life again? What about when we lose something and it doesn’t come back or never gain something that we so longed for and even lacked?

Has God let us down? Are his delays his denials? Or is he still telling us to Wait. The end of the story has been written, but not fully revealed, yet this is what God says about it – "No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind can conceive what God has planned…"

Whatever we lack here will be more than made up for there. Can you think of anything a person would want for in this world that Heaven will not abundantly supply? Love, relationships, health, possessions, purpose, even food! Romans 8:18 "I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us."

God is still coming. He is on his way. Though we may wonder "Where IS he?" What is taking him so long? Be patient. Wait on the Lord. Be strong and take heart and wait on the Lord. For when we get to Heaven I know we will all say – "You have not let us down." The Lord is our Shepherd. We shall not be in want.

True story – Myamar – where the cyclone hit and the government won’t allow in any aid – Christians are dying. Terry Sartain, pastor of Calvary Chapel Charlotte went with Jack Monday, director of Rapid Response for Billy Graham Ministries and two others were granted passports – four of only 45 that have been granted since the cyclone. It is absolutely dangerous to be a Christian there. They traveled in separate taxis to the place where they were secretly meeting with pastors from the region. 44 showed up. All of them hungry, grieving and confused. When Terry got there, he said he had no idea why he was there. What could he offer these men. All their rice fields were destroyed. All their water supplies had been salted by the sea. They were not just dying of hunger, but also dying of thirst. Praying for rain water. Asking questions like "if I only have enough rice left for one more meal for my family and someone comes to my door asking for food, what do I do?" All Terry said he could do the first day was stand in front of them and weep and pray. There is that weeping again. The compassion of the Lord. Knowing how much pain they are suffering from the sin of this oppressive government. For the first two days, there was a soberness in the crowd, a hopelessness. But somewhere on the third day, the mood changed. Terry and the others realized they might not have food or water, but they still had Jesus and they could still give Jesus away. The men left not knowing if they were going back to die, but rejoicing that the greatest possession, they still possessed and in heaven all their tears will be wiped away.

Pray for them. Pray for rain. Pray for relief. Pray for hope, comfort, and faith. Faith in a Great God that will gain them rewards in heaven not able to be imagined here on Earth.

God Bless, Kim


IrishgirlieKnits said...

Thank you for sharing that! Happy 4th to you and your family!