Wednesday, April 13, 2011

A Lenten Reflection: Elizabeth Come Out

John 11:1-45
Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. Mary was the one who anointed the Lord with perfume and wiped his feet with her hair; her brother Lazarus was ill. So the sisters sent a message to Jesus, “Lord, he whom you love is ill.” But when Jesus heard it, he said, “This illness does not lead to death; rather it is for God’s glory, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” Accordingly, though Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus, after having heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was.

What a day it has been.  A sprialing-downward day where a bad choice leads to self doubt, and self pity and self loathing.  The sort of day where the guilt of a mistake, or a bad choice becomes a self-fufilling prophecy for more mistakes and more bad choices.  And before you know it each bad choice seems made before you even realize there is a choice in the matter.   

Then after this he said to the disciples, “Let us go to Judea again.” The disciples said to him, “Rabbi, the Jews were just now trying to stone you, and are you going there again?” Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours of daylight? Those who walk during the day do not stumble, because they see the light of this world. But those who walk at night stumble, because the light is not in them.” After saying this, he told them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I am going there to awaken him.” The disciples said to him, “Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will be all right.” Jesus, however, had been speaking about his death, but they thought that he was referring merely to sleep. Then Jesus told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead. For your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.” Thomas, who was called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”

And I pretend that I am comforted by choosing food and procrastination when in reality they just add to the pain and the stress.  I have fallen asleep to what I want, choosing the path that does not lead to life as it should be.  It is a day of stumbling in the darkness of my own fears and inadequacies.  And even awareness of the pattern and the path that I am on does little to turn me aside from my own self-destruction.

When Jesus arrived, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days. Now Bethany was near Jerusalem, some two miles away, and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them about their brother. When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, while Mary stayed at home. Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask of him.” Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” She said to him, “Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one coming into the world.”

I should know better than to ask the cause or know the reason for stumbling, but even as I stumble I cannot see what it is that has caused it.  The voice in my head insists, "If you had done this differently, or made that choice, we would not be in this place right now, this place where you doubt yourself and your competency and your strength."  But even now, I know that there is still time to step off the path I am stumbling down.

When she had said this, she went back and called her sister Mary, and told her privately, “The Teacher is here and is calling for you.” And when she heard it, she got up quickly and went to him. Now Jesus had not yet come to the village, but was still at the place where Martha had met him. The Jews who were with her in the house, consoling her, saw Mary get up quickly and go out. They followed her because they thought that she was going to the tomb to weep there. When Mary came where Jesus was and saw him, she knelt at his feet and said to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”

When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, he was greatly disturbed in spirit and deeply moved. He said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.” Jesus began to weep. So the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?”

And I weep for the difficulty of becoming who I am.  I weep for doubting that God has not made me "enough" to be all that I can be.  And Jesus weeps with me.  See how he loves me.

Then Jesus, again greatly disturbed, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone was lying against it. Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, “Lord, already there is a stench because he has been dead four days.” Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?”

Take away the stone that keeps me from recognizing my potential.  The stones that I tie around myself, weighing me down.  The real weight of the food that I hide behind, the doubt that makes those same doubts real.   I am trapped in the tomb of disordered eating, of disordered thinking, of disordered being.  Trapped behind a stone that I rolled into place.  "Take away the stone."  Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?”

So they took away the stone. And Jesus looked upward and said, “Father, I thank you for having heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I have said this for the sake of the crowd standing here, so that they may believe that you sent me.” When he had said this, he cried with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” The dead man came out, his hands and feet bound with strips of cloth, and his face wrapped in a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”

Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what Jesus did, believed in him.

Elizabeth Come Out. 
I hear you calling, give me the strength to obey.  Unbind me from myself, and let me go.


Kate said...

This is glorious. Just glorious and so perfect.

LoveFeast Table said...

Beautiful~thank you for sharing your heart. ~CA said...

(hugs) Thanks for sharing Liz!

Elizabeth said...

Wow...that gave me chills. Just beautiful!

Laura P said...

I think many of us who are on this journey understand what you are saying. raw, real, relatable.

Thank you for writing this post.

Jo said...

Oh Liz. This is just beautiful. It speaks to me so very loudly!

Love you friend. You can do it. God (and I) know that you can!

Heather of the EO said...

Liz, this is so lovely and so are you. You are all wrapped up in love and grace, even when you are at your messiest and weakest--even more-so then.

I hope you'll stop the defeating thoughts that lie to you, tell them no and then simply take one step at a time...seeking progress, not perfection. I'll be walking with you.

Peace, friend.

LoveFeast Table said...

Chris Ann called me and told me to come here and read your post. I'm glad I did. I am moved by the honesty of your struggle. You put to words the struggle inside of a lot of come forth. To be all that God intended. I think just speaking truth, choosing to give words with honesty to your struggle, loosens the grip that the lies hold.
I know your post shared the struggle, but what I felt was the hope peeking out. Hope that He is big enough! He is!
You're not alone. I'm standing with you believing you will come forth!

pjmystic said...

How beautiful and accurate. I share that tomb and am grateful for the words of Christ calling us out. You are a beautiful beloved of God in Christ Jesus. Thank you for your words. ~PJ

kate hopper said...

This is lovely, Liz, and so brave. We all do this, don't we--hide behind something? Forget to listen to what we really need? But I agree with Heather. One step at a time. It's slow, but you'll be moving in the right direction.

I'm so glad I know you! And I'm sending a huge hug!!