Grace, Hope, Pain, Words of Endurance
EXCERPT FROM MENDED: OUT OF THE RAG PILE, BACK ON THE HANGER
BY DEBBIE WOODS (PUBLISHED BY HIGHERLIFE PUBLISHING)
Available at: Amazon.com/author/debbiewoods
When Mary arrived and saw Jesus, she fell at his feet and said,
“Lord if only you had been here, my brother would not have died.”
JOHN 11:32 (THE MESSAGE)
Some Christians love to retell their life story before Jesus. Whose was more abused, neglected, sad, tragic, and heartbreaking? Or whose was more sinful, wicked, shameful and scandalous? Although I didn’t often speak of my back- story, in my heart I focused more on the “before” than the “after.” I allowed questions, sorrow, and self-pity to dominate my narrative.
Then I met Lazarus (See John 11). I imagined his back-story: “I loved Jesus; I was his friend. My sisters and I served him faithfully. We were braver and more devoted than anyone. We were part of his inner circle. Then I got sick. You can’t imagine how I suffered. My doctor said he had never seen a more agonizing case! My sisters were devastated. When the doctor said it would be fatal, we sent for Jesus, but He didn’t even bother to come! Can you believe it? After all we did for Him? Well, He came later and resurrected me, but have you ever heard of such unnecessary suffering? I wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy.”
But Jesus had withheld His blessing to increase it. He did not hurry to restore Lazarus and relieve his sisters’ sorrow. He waited for the glory of God. He had His eye on the eternal spectrum, not on their personal comfort. Jesus called Lazarus out of the grave by name so that others might believe in the One who had sent Him.
And so it is with me. Jesus waited, as I was dead in sin. But in the fullness of time, He commanded others to roll the stone away, removing the obstacle between us, called me by name out of death and into life. He commanded others to unbind me from my grave clothes and teach me to walk by faith. Jesus set me at liberty to testify to the miracle and His glory.
Lazarus did not tarry or go back to his putrid bindings, and neither should I. The grave of this world is no place for those whom Christ has quickened. We must come forth laying aside every hindrance. Satan calls me back to focus on old pain, injustice, and unkindness to distract from the mercy and grace of Jesus, saying, “Look at those old bindings and smell them again. Remember what you went through?”
No, God gives us the oil of gladness instead of mourning and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. He has rewoven me and put me in working order again.
To all who mourn in Israel,
He will give a crown of beauty for ashes,
a joyous blessing instead of mourning,
festive praise instead of despair.
In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks
That the Lord has planted for his own glory.
ISAIAH 61:3 (NLT)
ON THE JOURNEY WITH YOU,