It is an awesome thing to be challenged and then encouraged to consider how I can live today and tomorrow fully immersed in the realization that I am experiencing the gift of life. Just as Lazarus was dead and then brought to life by Christ, I have been renewed – the great spiritual re-birth and new life after realizing that Jesus sacrifice was for me – and many other re-charges from emotional, circumstantial, relational, financial, and many other areas of life.
When you face yourself and question if you are LIVING to your full ability of praise, worship, thankfulness, and joy, it is easy to see the shadows and dangerous to hear the enemy whisper that you are the only one with such shadows or darkness. It’s a fact of life though, that anytime you make a commitment to know, love, or serve God better, there will be conflict. We can expect it. Especially after the Easter’s of life. That’s where the Lazarus group came in. They brought reality that although we each experience our personal story in a unique way, we are not alone. Ecclesiastes 4:10 says it is good to know there are companions in the battle for if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion.
Someone who has lifted you from sin, depression, circumstances, or has rejoiced with you over God’s touch, is no longer a stranger. They have new status and recognition as brothers and sisters in Christ. I know I found a miracle of sorts taking place in my heart each day as I thought of my Laz friends, and the miracles and trials of their lives. I found my heart other-focused. Focused on Christ above all, while focused on others’ lives. Thanking God for what He was/is doing in their lives and situations, seeing God move in my life through their insights and inspirations.
These past 40 days I’ve seen God in over 70 other people – some of them in more personal ways than I know people who sit in the pew next to me in church every Sunday. That inspires me to live more Laz like with my own church family and to not be so busy following daily lists that I don’t take the time to SEE who is next to me, or to share myself with them. It also inspires me to recognize God’s greatness and to ward off the enemy’s attacks and accusations of worthlessness, inferiority or invisibility. The Laz experiment has proven once again that the truth is quite the opposite and reminded me of the joy I sometimes keep tampered in busyness that I KNOW that no little thing in my life is invisible to Him, or unimportant to Him, and that God miraculously considered me worth dying for. I’ve been reminded too of the value of sharing when God sings over me the overwhelming truth of His love and constancy no matter what emotions or enemy accusations may be saying. God’s voice has come through this Laz experience with laughter, lightness and loving assurance.
40 days of consistent, focused JOY at being alive creates new habits, new opportunities, and a new way of looking at daily life. I don’t think any of us will be the same. For me it will be bringing my “Tool-Kit for Writers” to life. A friend gave me this box of cards with “Pastor-Ron-type” suggestions to write about each day. Since the Laz experience, I looked at the box this morning thinking maybe I should LIVE these things first, then write about them.
I used to journal prayer requests and answers so when the enemy would whisper that an issue was too small for God’s attention, or a request way beyond what I deserved (aren’t they all!) or that it was God who was hiding from me and not the reverse, I could go back to the journal and say it’s not true – God answered this, and this, and this… and He will answer again. The Laz experiment has multiplied my journal 70 times because the sharing was not “just” a one-time experience – it was 40 days of each participant’s life. The good, the bad, the ugly, the beautiful, the tears, the smiles, the beautiful praises and the heart-rending prayer requests. It’s amazing with the few verses in the Bible that talk about Lazarus that we could find a how-to-live map. Lazarus obviously had put himself in the Lord’s hands – in life and in death and in newly resurrected life. After Lazarus was brought to life many came to confirm the miracle they’ d heard that took place with Lazarus. Lazarus’ new life was visible and accessible. And though the enemy (the chief priests) were in such a dither they were eagerly plotting to put Lazarus to death, where was Laz? On a book tour? Cowering in a cave in fear? Nope – reclining at the table with Jesus!
Resting. Trusting. Listening. Learning. Abiding. Noticing. Living.
Yep. I want to live like Laz.