Today’s Readings: Exodus 32, John 11, Proverbs 8, Ephesians 1
As I sit down to write tonight I’m filled with joy and contentment. I’m 35 today. I slept in just a little, had some favorite foods, received gifts from my husband and children, went to church and then celebrated with my small group. As I reflect on the day, the thing that sticks with me is my Facebook feed. Ordinarily, I would have lots to say about the false idol that is Facebook but today I feel differently. Today, 122 people took the time to call me by name. One hundred and twenty two people wrote genuine, kind, heartfelt messages to me. Throughout the day I read and re-read my bible passages for the journal and in between I would read some of the new Facebook messages coming in. I realized tonight that what is most significant about these messages is that each of those people called me by name.
In John 11 we learn that Jesus’ good friend Lazarus is very ill. John is careful to tell us that Jesus stayed for 2 extra days despite the mounting risk he faces for his preaching in Judea. Mary and Martha are rather desperate. They tell Jesus that “he whom you love” is ill. Jesus replies by saying:
“This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” John 11:4
This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God. Hello. Hello. I’ve been transporting myself to this moment in time all week. What Jesus says here is so important. I’ve challenged myself to write down at least two things each day that I believe is an “illness” in my life. An illness that I may feel is for the purpose of my own suffering. An illness that I believe is for the purpose of an end or a death. Then I ask myself, “how is this circumstance or situation for the glory of God.” Guess what…there’s been an answer every time. If I am silent and wait, I get the answer.
What happens next is the real meat and potatoes of the story. After learning that Lazarus has been dead for four days, Jesus goes to the tomb and calls him by name. He says,
“Lazarus come out” John 11:43
The irony here of course is that as Jesus gives life through the act of giving up his own. In fact, by performing this miracle the plot to kill Jesus is set in motion by his enemies. Jesus knows that the time is drawing near. He hastened his own death by calling his beloved Lazarus by name. Is he calling me today? As Easter approaches am I present in this Lazarus moment, am I listening for the sound of my very own name?
Later in today’s readings Paul writes to the Ephesians,
“In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.” Ephesians 1:11-14
There it is! The post-resurrection testimony from Paul about the true inheritance we have as a result of Jesus’ sacrifice. He tells us right here in this scripture that we are his chosen ones, he has named us on the biggest Facebook wall of all time. We have been predestined for his love and will inherit our forever with him. Here is the promise that each and every one of us is special, is unique, is intimately known by Him. By his action we are sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit. Paul goes on to write to the Ephesians,
“I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him, having eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you.” Ephesians 1:16-18
Bring our hearts close to yours this week. Give us a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of you. Don’t let the spirit of eggs and chocolate and rabbits distract us from your voice calling us by name. Give us hope in the daily situations that we feel are insurmountable earthly illnesses. Draw me close to you, Lord. I know the time is near. Help me to stop, listen and respond. We thank you Lord for building our community of other Christ followers, for giving us strength to live in our modern Judea’s while praising you. Thank you for calling us each by name.