still epiphany

We’re still in that season on the church calendar called Epiphany, but it sure is easy to forget about it. Without the Christmas clutter, whether we embrace it or fight it, we are less aware of any spiritual season. At least I am.

And then a song comes through my headphones on my way to work in the morning called Lazarus by Jon Guerra. I remember that this season is about practicing presence. I remember that Jesus walked the earth – that He came to live with us, inside our human struggle. And when he saw pain and death and sickness, he walked towards it. He was fully present in every kind of place with every kind of person.

This is how Jesus responded when the sisters sent word that the one He loved was sick,

“But when Jesus heard it 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

He did not rush like an EMT to the scene or run the opposite direction from the tragedy’s sadness. He did not avoid Judea, though the people tried to stone him the last time he was in town. Jesus was slow, steady, and confident that his presence possessed the authority of the One who sent Him.

And I forget that.

I forget that Jesus is present in the darkness of this world and present in the darkness of my heart. He walks toward the darkness and offends it with the light of His truth. He walks toward dead bones and this is what he says,

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” John 11:25-26

His presence means resurrection and it means life. And we are all Lazarus, dead for four days, lost in darkness. We are all wrapped up, bodies bandaged and cold, when He makes Himself present to us and then makes us alive to Him. Do we believe this? Do we live believing that faith means we will never die? Do we walk out God’s daily miracles of future grace with a confidence of one who will live forever?

When he had said these things, he cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out.” John 11:43

Every day, he stands at the door of our death tombs and says, “Come out.” He reminds us that He is present here in this dark day and in our dark hearts. He calls for us to be present with Him and to be His presence. He calls us to “come out” of darkness in order to speak life into a world of death.

This is the season of Epiphany, where we celebrate Jesus being present among us. Let us not forget all His benefits (Psalm 103)!

we do the living

I’m early to work.

How often does one say that in a city that depends on an unreliable transportation system? Well… pretty often if you are this girl. I think it has something to do with my insistence in taking a different route every day compounded with the fact that I don’t conform well to the minutes on the clock. I leave when I’m ready and sometimes that’s well before I need to. And so it was this morning. But, I’m not bothered. I wonder how long it will be until I know the commute down to the minute, because then I can imagine being very frustrated when those minutes don’t work out.

For today, I am spending my extra minutes thinking about Lazarus as I read “Finally Alive” by John Piper.

In John 11:43, Jesus says to the dead Lazarus, “Lazarus, come out.” And the next verse says, “The man who had died came out.” So Lazarus takes part in this resurrection. He comes out. Christ causes it. Lazarus does it. He is the one who rises from the dead! Christ brings about the resurrection. Lazarus acts out the resurrection. The instant Christ commands Lazarus to rise, Lazarus does the rising. The instant God gives new life, we do the living. The instant the Spirit produces faith, we do the believing. (Finally Alive, John Piper)

The instant God gives new life, we do the living. Now that is magnificent. That is life altering in the most literal, formerly dead sense. Though we have no part in causing new life to happen inside us, we very much are a part of the acting out of that miraculous gift.

The instant the Spirit produces faith, we do the believing.

I may be in an early-to-work, commuter stupor, but this is most definitely the brilliance that was shining through the stained glass at my Broadway Junction transfer this morning. As the sermon from Sunday night is still marinating in the marrow of my soul, I am thinking about what the death-to-life call meant for Matthew.

When Jesus said, “Walk the same path with me” to Matthew, He was calling him out of a life of darkness and into a life of light. And Matthew rose up and followed.

He acted out Jesus’ calling by joining him on the narrow foot path. He believed this man as a result of the Spirit’s gift of faith.

And today, whether I notice the minutes passing or not, God has authored transformation as he breathes life into my bones.

And as He miraculously sustains my life, I walk.

I walk and run and laugh and dance and as I do, I stretch out the fingers of this miracle. Because I was dead but He made me alive and He keeps me alive!