The news lately has been anything but encouraging. Around the world disasters of every kind are reported along with prophetic messages of escalating doom. Were I to depend on that for daily motivation, I’d be in deep, deep trouble.
Personal stress seems at an all time high with lightening speed changes and challenges. Were I to depend on the emotions this raises, I would also be in deep, deep trouble.
I’ve written before about an around the world online group called The Lazarus Experiment. We meet annually for 40 days after Easter, but the relationships we’ve developed carry through the rest of the year. When you walk together through challenges, tender guidance, laughter, tears, and all of life’s joys and troubles in between you develop a special bond. It’s to the point that many of life’s happenings makes you think of your Laz friends, and the familiar story that brings life to any situation.
I recently had an experience where a stranger went totally ballistic because someone left the car in front of him and gone into the gas station leaving him to wait to use the pump. I mean this was a red-faced, screaming, hair-raising, is-the-guy-going-to-have-a-stroke or cause someone harm kind of rant. I looked at the people around us, a couple looked fearful (likely wondering if the big fellow had weapons in that big truck), one looked very angry, one was in his car nearby ‘lost’ in his phone and was unaware of the whole situation, and the fellow on the other side of the gas pump smugly grinned like he knew the fellow’s only accomplishment would be making himself look like a fool.
For me it was a flashback of manic behavior, and the drive, the urgency to soothe – and avoid the confrontation and emotional explosion. I’ve had several people in my life that wanted to do harm and I quickly learned you don’t push an angry rat into a corner.
So – considering this volatile situation and Lazarus’ life-after-death experience, I think of one detail: that “a great multitude came to see not only Jesus, but Lazarus also,” …and that the chief priests were plotting ‘that they might put Lazarus to death also.’
While it is interesting to speculate how Lazarus felt coming alive, coming out of the tomb, and wondering were it me, what would I do or not do, there is also a life-flashes-before-you feeling in the midst of seemingly crazed anger. What if he did ‘go postal’ and start shooting? What if this was my last day?
This situation was averted and we left the man with his mouth hanging open. But what difference did that confrontation make in my life? If I could go back and prepare for either the potential unknown crisis (which the world seems to be faced with more and more each day) or a fresh start-over like Lazarus had – what would I start or change or finish about my life that I had or had not done before breathing my last? Would I worry less about what
people think about me, or what I do or how I dress and just be able this time to help others without worrying if I was an accomplice or enabler for their problem or addiction. Could I be myself for the joy of being? If I knew there was a plot out to kill me, would I live life on the run or just keep living? Would I worry that my presence could endanger those I am with, or would my lack of fear for what man could do to me concern my enemies or my loved ones? What is my mission?
Would I eat to live or live to eat? Would I run to my family and embrace them one more time? Would my old cravings and priorities return or what would be my new priorities?
Would I have the freedom to dance like no one is watching…to run in the rain…to do something joyful to make another person smile or would I be constantly examining motives and wondering what is truth?
Each day has the possibility of raising all these questions and more. Many question if there remain any righteous men or women in leadership. Many long and fearful experiences have taught no present or future peace can come from trusting mankind alone. We are all as broken as the man at the gas station and the priests who wanted to kill Lazarus because his existence and life disproved their beliefs and threatened their power and control.
So instead of wondering or worrying over those questions, I can ask: Has my new life in Christ in any way reflected the answers I thought to those questions? If that were to be my final hour, what would those watching have seen or heard?
I read some words in Romans 8 (The Message) this morning that also reminded me of Lazarus:
Rom. 8:11-15 It stands to reason, doesn’t it, that if the alive-and-present God who raised
So don’t you see that we don’t owe this old do-it-yourself life one red cent.
There’s nothing in it for us, nothing at all. The best thing to do is give it a decent burial and get on with your new life.
God’s Spirit beckons. There are things to do and places to go!
This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life.
“What’s next, Papa?”
That’s the kind of questions I’ve been asking. What about your life? Are you adventurously expectant? When is the last time you greeted God by asking,
“What’s next, Papa?”