February 25 Devotional
Come to Stillness: Take a few minutes to allow your mind and heart to be still before God.
Opening Prayer: O Lord our God, help us to be faithful to gather what you have provided for our hearts and souls this day - that we may feed on you and live. In the name of Jesus, the bread of life. Amen.
Scripture Reading for the Day: John 11:38-44
Reading for Reflection: The cave is dark and cold, filled with death and decay. After all, it has been four days since the dead man was placed inside. There’s no more hope; that’s it! Death has had the final word. If only Jesus would’ve shown up sooner, but now what could he possibly do?
Ever feel that way? Ever feel like all hope is lost; like life and health and change are not possible because of the gravitational pull of the deadness inside? Martha would have us believe it is just too late. “Don’t open up that tomb, it’s going to stink. It is far too messy to be redeemed.” I’m so glad that Jesus didn’t share her sentiments. The fact is that Jesus specializes in messy. That’s because Jesus knows that for something to be resurrected it has to truly die first. Why do you think he waited four days before he arrived at the tomb? Why do you think he said to Martha, “Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?” You see, Jesus is bigger than death - be it the death of someone we love, the death of a relationship we hold dear, the death of a dream, or the death that lives within us on a regular basis. That death would have you believe that this is it. That’s all there is. There’s no way out of this pain and darkness and depression. You are stuck. You are trapped. Life can never be the same again.
But Jesus knows better. Maybe that’s why he weeps. Maybe he is heartbroken that somewhere deep inside we don’t truly believe that he can redeem this, whatever this may be. Maybe he is weeping over the fact that we do not really believe that he can, or will, bring life out of our unimaginable pain and brokenness. Maybe his tears come from the fact that our circumstances have made us doubt the goodness of his heart. And maybe his sadness is, somehow, related to our stuckness. Who knows?
Luckily the story doesn’t end there. In fact, Jesus calls out, “Take away the stone.” And when he does some unknown, unseen (to us) group of people spring into action. People that are filled with the hope that this is not, indeed, the end. People that are filled with the faith to know that even though things look unredeemable, Jesus is able to breathe life into even the most dismal and hopeless and painful of circumstances. People that care so deeply for the one inside the tomb that they are standing by, willing and ready to do whatever it takes to help make that redemption possible. “He can’t get out himself,” they think, “so why don’t we help roll the stone away and just see what Jesus will do.” Truth be told, there can never be enough stone-rollers in the world. Stone-rollers don’t care about the stink. They don’t care about the mess. They don’t care about what anyone thinks. They are beyond all of that because at some point in time someone had the courage and the grace to roll their own stone away, so that they might walk out of the grave into the light of new life. And because of that, if there’s ever a time when someone needs a stone rolled away - rather than to be avoided or judged or given up on - they want to be the first in line. Being a stone-roller is a beautiful, beautiful thing.
Reflection and Listening: silent and written
Prayer: for the church, for others, for myself
Pray for the upcoming Global Mission Conference, for the Worship leaders, singers, musicians, choir, and preparation for attendees to worship in a manner pleasing to the Lord.
Closing Prayer: Grant us in all things to see your hand, that we may walk with Christ in all simplicity, and serve you with a quiet mind and contented heart. Amen. (Venite by Robert Benson)