When we first meet Mary, the sister of Martha, she is seated at the feet of Jesus (Luke 10:39). As you recall from scripture, she just couldn’t get enough of Him! She even ignored the wrath of her sister so she could hang on His every word.
I can identify with how she felt. Can you? There is nothing like how we feel when our faith is strong and filled with awe. There is just something about every Word coming from His mouth–the scripture is new fresh and Alive.
That was how it felt for me when I came to be acquainted with Him.
I grew up in the church. My Papaw was a preacher so the question of the existence of Jesus Christ never plagued me, it was a truth, and I accepted it without question. But that doesn’t mean I KNEW Him. Oh, I recognized He loved me, and I spent many hours talking to Him. [I grew up as an only child with no friends, on a farm.] This was in the days of no internet and only three television channels. I spent a lot of time physically alone, yet not spiritually alone. Jesus was right there with me—protecting me from the evils of this world!
Yes, there were plenty of them. During my childhood, I knew the spiritual realm intimately. I witnessed evil in ways that most people would only associate with the Silver Screen. I witnessed the battle for my soul up close and personal. Miracles of every sort. I, just like the Jews who left the confines of slavery in Egypt and crossed the Red Sea on dry land, knew what a miracle was (Exodus 14).
In short, I grew up sitting at the very feet of Jesus, as Mary did.
This morning I read the story of Lazarus, the brother of Martha and Mary and noticed something I’d never seen before:
So when Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met Him, but Mary remained seated in the house (John 11:20).
Mary was disappointed. In her eyes, Jesus failed her, she goes as far to say it when Jesus calls for her:
Now when Mary came to where Jesus was and saw Him, she fell at His feet, saying to Him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died” (John 11:32).
Have you ever felt that way? I certainly have. Lord, if only you would have:
- Stopped my step-father from abusing me
- Stopped the car accident that changed my life forever
- Healed my Momma’s broken body—raised her from the dead
I could go on and on…
In 1996, Momma died from complications of one too many surgeries. Her body broken, her mind is filled with such turmoil and pain. I remember praying for her healing. I begged God to hear my cries. He’d done it for others surely He could do it for her- His faithful servant.
But He didn’t.
My mind struggled with this. I dreamt over and over again that she was alive. In each dream the story was different.
- She’d gone on a trip…
- Moved somewhere so we could get her SSI money to help take care of my little brother. I even dreamt that Social Security found out about it and demanded an explanation as to why we were still cashing the checks.
- I’d talk to her about things that were happening, currently, in my life. Things there is no way she would know.
The one thing to remain when I woke up—Momma was indeed gone.
My hearts constant cry— “Lord, if you had been here, my mother would not have died.”
Even as He revealed to me He’d healed her when He called her to Glory settled the questions from my logical mind, emotionally I cry out: Why didn’t You heal her and leave her with me?
Often referred to as the shortest scripture is John 11:35: Jesus wept. I’ve heard this simple scripture analyzed over and over. They say Jesus is crying because his friend died. Last Sunday the Lord revealed something so profound to me: Jesus wasn’t weeping at the death of his friend. It was because of the pain this caused His friends—the pain Mary felt. If we go back a few scriptures, we see Jesus delayed going.
He said: “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). Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So, when He heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where He was (John 115-6).
Go back and read those last two sentences again:
Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. SO, when He heard that Lazarus was ill, He stayed two days longer in the place where He was.
Wait a minute, Jesus loved them SO He waited… What? If He loved them, why did He wait? This seems so contrary to what someone who loves those in pain would do, doesn’t it? I’ve felt this way on more occasions than I’d like to admit. If Jesus loves me then why doesn’t He give me what I ask for when I ask for it?
Martha in her matter-of-fact way of expressing herself told Jesus, “Lord if you had been here, my brother would not have died” (John 11:21). Martha doesn’t stop there, she says, “But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you” (John 11:22). It takes great faith to understand ultimately, God is in control. In the situation of Lazarus, it was the Lord’s will to raise Him from the dead.
His Will is not always what I think it should be, but I must cling to that knowledge, that hope. As Jesus taught us to pray, in Matthew 6:5-15, Your will Lord, be done on earth as it is in Heaven. It’s never just that simple, though. The enemy of our soul whispers in our ear.
I can feel His hot breath on my skin, my own skin begins to prickle. I feel a chill, and I shudder. There is a heavy weight in the pit of my stomach, a salty taste in my mouth as bile rises into my throat.
His voice is low and deep. “After all, you’ve been through how can you still believe? You’ve been through so much pain and heartache. If those things were accurate don’t you think God would have kept them from happening?”
My mind readily agrees. I can feel his fingers in my brain, he’s stirring up everything I thought to be true.
“Doesn’t this WORD, say that what He’s done for others He’ll do for you (John14:12)? Is this true? Was this true for your sick Mother? For the father who abused you?”
“We must remember that it was ultimately Man who wrote the Bible. Simple, imperfect, subjective, opinionated man. Jesus didn’t put His words down for you to read. No, it was Man.”
Confusion stirs in my heart and mind. This makes so much sense, I mean everything is subject to interpretation, isn’t it?
“Seriously, just look at the world around you, if those Words were true don’t you think the world would be a better place? Doesn’t the Word say He cares for the sparrow, you’re better than the sparrow (Matthew 6:26-34). Aren’t you?”
“So what does this say to you about The Word?”
It’s logical, you can’t argue with logic…
For the next thirteen years, I found myself fading away ever so slowly. No, I never doubted the Lord’s existence. Even the enemy knew that would be a stretch. No, I lived in the lie of the enemy. Through my belief in Jesus, everything I did was covered. This wasn’t a conscious decision mind you. I never said those words, but as I look back on the decisions and choices, I made I know what my actions say I believed. The enemy was more than happy to walk with me on my path of good intentions. He was also quick to find suitable distractions along the way to allow me to continue in my illusion. (Even not one, but two adulteries, somehow justified by the actions of my now ex-husband.) It’s interesting what we can cause our minds to believe.
One day the scales fell from my eyes and for the first time, I could see my sin for what it was. I could see my life and who I’d become. As His Light filled the darkness. It was abrupt! I knew the choices and decisions I’d made could have cost me, my very soul. But Jesus saved me, He consistently pursued me by the Power of the Holy Spirit. He was not willing that I continue to wonder lost and alone, eating with pigs. He called this prodigal home (Luke 15:11-32)!
I, just like Lazarus, was dead and bound by death. I heard Him calling my name. “Little girl, I say unto you, arise” (Mark 5:41). Praise you, sweet Jesus, I once was lost, but now I’m found, and I am alive! Amen and Amen.
The Disciple Jesus Loves,