“Lazarus is dead. And for your sakes, I’m glad I wasn’t there, for now you will really believe.” –John 11:14-15 NLT
Funny how a particular passage of scripture can speak to you deeply through the years, but then one day you hear it as if you’ve never heard it before.
You see it like you’ve never seen it before.
You understand it like you’ve never understood it before.
This happened to me recently with the story of Lazarus. I’ve long cherished the hope contained in this story. God has spoken to me deeply through many different parts of the story, at many different points in life. I’ve even written about it (several times, actually) beginning years ago.
But reading it again recently took my breath away. Not only did it fill me, once again, with abounding hope, but it also filled me with something else …
It filled me with gratitude for the privilege of waiting.
Jesus could have kept Lazarus from dying, but He didn’t. It certainly isn’t because He wasn’t invited into the situation–He absolutely was. No, He waited for one simple reason …
He waited because He loved them.
Of course I’ve seen that before. God waits to move in certain situations because He wants to do more than we’ve originally asked. It’s not that He’s not answering–it’s that He’s answering in a different and more astounding way. It’s a timing issue. We’ve probably all heard teaching along these lines. Maybe we even believe it.
But for me, this was different. I didn’t just “see” it this time. I knew it …at a whole new level. I knew it at a whole new level, because, well, I’ve known waiting at a whole new level.
I’ve seen an awful lot of hopes and dreams crash and burn in my lifetime–particularly over the last seven or eight years. It seems there have been so many that not only do I not have time to recount them, I don’t have the heart recount them. It has been such a long and ongoing process, that I finally got to the point where I pretty much gave up on ever resuscitating my lost dreams. I buried Lazarus and moved on.
Well, that was the plan anyway. It worked for a moment or two.
It worked until my heart was stirred again with reality of resurrection life. It worked until I understood–really understood …
That to experience resurrection, you need to first experience death.
If you want to understand that all things are possible with God, you need to actually be faced with the impossible.
If something is just sick (or broken, or rearranged, or shelved, or delayed, or whatever) it could … possibly … potentially … conceivably … get better naturally.
But when something is DEAD–well, when something is dead–there is nothing–that’s right NOTHING–you can do.
You can’t try a little harder. You can’t come up with a list of steps to success. You can’t make your own reality. You can’t say or pray just the right words. You can’t conjure up just the right amount of faith that will obligate God to move.
You can’t DO anything.
But He can.
And that is the point.
The point is that sometimes–because He loves us–He waits.
He waits so we can believe.
“Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?” (John 11:40).
Yes, Lord–that is what you told me. And I absolutely do believe–just as much as I’m able right here and now. But I thank You for also allowing me the privilege of waiting. For allowing me the privilege of waiting so I can really believe. So I can really believe like I never have before. Because You’ve always known my heart, Abba, and You know how desperately I long to see Your glory.
“Lazarus, come forth!”