The fundamental fact of our faith is –
Jesus is Lord of the Living and The Dead, by him, the dead receive new life, and through faith in him, the living never die.
I am the resurrection and the life, they who
believe in me, though they die, yet shall they
live, and everyone who lives and believes in me
shall never die.
So – what do we say to this?
What do we say when things are going badly for us?
When people around us are plunged into despair and the world around us is falling apart?
Do we say – as did Israel in the time of Exile:
“our bones are dried up, our hope is lost, we are
cut off completely..”
Do we give up hope as did Mary and Martha in the village of
Bethany? Do we say with them: “Lord, if you had been here, our brother would not have died”?
Or do we await – in trust – the next loving and powerful act of our God?
Its time for a confession.
The confession is this.
I limit my God almost every day. Indeed I lock my God up – much as Lazarus was bound and locked in the tomb.
Now I believe in God – I believe a lot in my God.
I believe that my God – in Jesus – forgives my sins
– I’ve got no problem with that.
I believe too that my God will bring me into eternal life
– no problem there either.
I even believe that my God does miracles
– and that those miracles are not confined to THIS BOOK – But that they still go on – that people are healed, people are saved, people are made new – every day, no problem there either.
I believe too that God provides for me, that God watches over me, that God guards my steps…still no problem.
But my friends – for all my belief and for all my beliefs – I still limit my God, I still lock him up.
What I mean is this: There are some places in my life where often I do not let God enter unless someone else – some kindly saint – hits me over the head with the fact that I am being absolutely stupid.
For example – there are times when I do not let God enter into my wallet.
By this I do not mean that I don’t give as much as I believe God wants me to give. What I mean is this – there are times when I get anxious and worried about how I am going to be able to afford to do this or that thing when I want to.
Lots of people have these times.
But I’m not happy with what happens when I have them. In fact,
I’m miserable. I let myself get into funks – funks based nothing more than my perception that there is nothing more that I can do to help myself get the funds I need. I growl a bit. I am distracted. I’m a pain.
Completely out of this picture that I paint for myself is the presence of God.
That is – until someone hits me over the head with the fact that
I have never really wanted before. And that when I have wanted – well – God has provided.
I thank God for those reminders – because I get it – and for awhile I am much better.
That is just one example.
There are others –
I lock God up.
I stick him in the tomb.
I travel to the valley of dry bones where Ezekiel went and see, as Ezekiel saw, as all of Israel saw, only dry old bones.
How about you?
Do you ever despair?
Do you ever think you have been forever cut off from the land of blessing?
That your hope is gone?
That everything around you is rotten?
That your life might as well be over for all the difference it would make?
If you don’t have these thoughts and feelings — well – please tell me what planet you come from because I, and lots of others would like to visit with you there.
I limit God – I lock God out of some parts of my life – quite regularly – until that is – as I said before – some saint comes along and hits me over the head and reminds me of just who it is
I believe in, and what it is that he can do and does do.
We all need to be clunked on the head sometimes – hit like how
God hits the people of Israel over the head through Ezekiel, telling them that as the valley of dry bones came to life by the Spirit and Word of God so too the people will live once again, and they will return to the promised land, and rebuild their nation and their temple and know that God has not only spoken, but that he has acted as well.
We all need to be clunked on the head sometimes,
Like how Jesus hits the people of Bethany over the head, by showing them that not only could he heal the sick, which they had no problem believing that he could do, but that he could also raise the dead.
Think about it for a minute –
About how Mary and Martha – who had seen Jesus in action many times, still limited him, still locked him out of certain areas of their lives, even though they had said to him with the deepest sincerity:
“Lord, I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son
of God, the one coming into the world”
What does these words mean if they do not mean that Jesus has power over everything?
Yet when Jesus arrives at the tomb and commands that the stone be taken away Martha protests because Lazarus has been dead for four days and the stench will be awful.
She believes in Jesus – as do I – as do so many, but she does not believe enough – she limits Him, she locks him up.
That is why Jesus prays as he does before raising Lazarus -saying:
“Father, I thank you for having heard me. I know 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
have sent me.”
And with those words – he then cries out in a loud voice –
“Lazarus come forth.”
And he does.
The scripture then adds: And many of the people there who had come with Mary, and who saw what he did, believed in him…
Jesus is the lord of both the living and the dead,
He is the resurrection and the life those who believe in him, though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in him will never die.
This is our faith.
The one that we need to be reminded of occasionally reminded of if we are not to fall back into despair, if we are not to dwell in anger and grief more than we ought. Every time someone suggests that perhaps you are limiting God, that you are locking God out of an area of your life, think of him or her as being one who is simply obeying Jesus as one who is trying to remove the things that bind the hands and the feet of your souls, and give thanks that God is not yet done with you, but is calling you onward, from death – to life, from the restrictions of the tomb in which you once dwelt, to the light of a new day.
Limiting and/ or locking Jesus up is less and less with me. “Let go, let God.”