Lessons From a Dead Man

I never understood the joy surrounding the story of Lazarus.

In John 11, we are told the story of Mary and Martha’s brother, Lazarus, being resurrected. Jesus waited three days to attend to His sick loved one, and by the time He arrived, Lazarus was already dead. It was revealed that Jesus waited in order to show His power to those surrounding the tragedic death, but still, that’s not what confuses me.

Lazarus was dead. Why is that a bad thing? Lazarus was obviously in fellowship with Jesus, so he was in Heaven. Why were we shocking the poor man out of perfect fellowship with God the Father and God the Holy Spirit and celebrating it? Dude, it just wasn’t fair.

Don’t get me wrong. Yay, Lazarus is back for his sisters, Mary and Martha. But seriously, the guy just wanted Heaven… and he was just getting comfortable past the pearly gates when God (hypothetically, of course) spoke two words: Go back.

I read Lazarus’ story and I’m brought to tears. Not because of the sign of God’s power in the God-Man Jesus, though such a thing is comforting, awesome and beautiful. I’m brought to tears because, well, what about the price on Lazarus’ heart to be used for God’s glory in such a way?

It’s also a calm yet firm whisper to my heart to remind me I can’t tell God when He’s done making the ashes of my life glorify His name. Lazarus probably wanted to stay in Heaven; going back to suffering on Earth probably wasn’t on his post-mortem bucket list. Yet God wanted to use Lazarus… and so He did.

Often times, I want to scream at the Heavens that I’m done being used in the area of pain, suffering and redemption after shame. Often times, I mutter forcefully, “I’m done. Give me Heaven, already. I was so gosh-frikkin’ close to Heaven forever. Stop using my pain. I want Heaven.”

But then, just like Jesus with Lazarus, I hear Him enclose me with the words, “I did this so others may believe in Me, Child. You will understand when you stand before Me ‘for real’ some day soon. Let Me use you. It’s pricey to your heart, but it’s making you more like Me.”

Lazarus’ story doesn’t always make me cry anymore. It just makes me long for Heaven and the ability to hear Jesus’ grander plan.

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