Lazarus was one lucky fella.
I wonder if, on his last birthday, Lazarus blew out all the candles on his birthday cake with one breath?
Or, at the big Bethany Rosh Hashana party, did Lazarus dig into a Vassilopitta and find a coin?
Maybe Laz carried around a rabbit's foot. Maybe he hung a horseshoe upside down over his front door to gather in the blessings. Maybe he grew a lucky bamboo.
After all, something was going Lazzy's way. Something tilted the scales of fate in his direction. Lazarus won the Beat Death Down Mega Millions Lotto. Maybe it was because he never stepped on a crack in the dusty roads between Bethany and Jerusalem. Or maybe it was because he always stepped on the cracks, and therefore, broke the devil's back.
I know you probably don't believe all that tripe.
But we sometimes catch ourselves thinking that if we only do something right, even something spiritual, in the right order, in the right way, with the right words, using the right scripture, sitting in the right place, and if we make sure we say, "In Jesus name," or "Lord willing," at the end, Jesus will magically appear, the bucket at the end of the rainbow will be full, and everything will turn out OK.
Actually, the story of Lazarus' death leads us to the exact opposite conclusion. We can't breeze past the obvious: Lazarus died. Mary didn't want that to happen. Martha knew it didn't need to happen. Even Jesus understood that it wasn't a good thing. We might say, "His luck ran out."
Martha seems to think that maybe if things had been different, Laz would still be alive. "If you had just listened and come when we called you, Jesus!" Sure, she plays the diplomat and tries to be all nicey-nice. But you know what she's thinking: "Hey! Pay attention next time, Jesus! My brother's dead and it's all because - why? You wanted to spend a little more vaca time with your buddies in the wilderness? The golf course was calling your name? It was more important to feed the nameless hoards some more bread and fish? YOUR BEST FRIEND IS DEAD, BUCKO! THANKS A MILLION FOR BEING HERE!"
(And then she made lunch.)
The thing is, this Jesus-life, it's not about the timing or the luck or the ritual or the manipulation of the stars and the universe. It's about leaning into him, in relationship.
Magic is when we do something religious to force the gods to do what we want.
Faith is trusting the One and Only God that whatever he does is the best for us.
Lazarus threw his rabbit's foot away after he died and came back. There is no need for luck when Jesus is in the picture.
Suggested Scripture For Today: Psalm 103
- Do you have a lucky shirt? A pair of lucky shoes? Some kind of object that is a talisman--that you think gives you an edge? What would Lazarus do with that stuff?
- Spend an hour with God, asking him to show you when you've traded a relationship with him for a formula for success. It could even be a spiritual formula. Ask God what he wants you to do about that.
- Identify five rituals you perform routinely in your life. It could be the way you brush your teeth, or the route you take to work, or the phrase you use to your kids when they go to bed. It could be one of hundreds of things we do ritually, habitually. Pick out five of them and don't do them today.
- Tell ten people today that it's Jesus who makes you smile.
Question of the Day: What do you think mad Lazarus sad? Was there a difference in his sorrow after he returned from death? If so, why? It's time to step it up, out there! Let's do some intentional, outrageous stuff over the weekend! And we want PICTURES! VIDEO! EVIDENCE!
This is truly amazing. I hope you're relishing these days.
What if's have consumed me, in some cases, and filled me with anger, regret, frustration and unproductive emotion.
Today, after much reflection with God, I am making a conscious effort to stop the what if's during or after a situation and - more importantly - before. What if's are simply a method by which we attempt to control an outcome. When we surrender that control, the what if's don't matter because we'll realize in each and every situation it will be God's will. I am a typical woman who thinks things should go a certain way and that as a mom, a nurturer, a compassionate, intelligent person and a "fixer" of all things related to boo boo (psyche or physical) I feel a need to help control the outcome.
Natural consequence, natural reward ethereal results. That's got the be the name of the game. Perhaps sometime this century I'll actually master doing that 24/7... Wish me God's Best!