Many years ago in California, after a little over two years living in a bright, spacious, 4th-floor 2 bedroom apartment that the Lord miraculously provided for me and my sister in Downtown Berkeley, I decided it was time to move on, ha. Sometimes I perceive things I can’t quite articulate, and am learning to be more persistent and focused in praying through the details. Circa 2015, all I knew was that I felt restless and expected God to finance my grandeurs of glamorous independence and a vibey, Calistyled millennial-american existence.
I was gluten-free and thin, living on youth and adrenaline. But I loved Him still. I just wasn’t very good at listening. I was a few generations into the promised land so-to-speak . . . lulled by the spell and haze of a babylon. And. I was prayer-walking on the beach, ha. Because I genuinely believed that God is not in confusion, and that believers can have clarity and wisdom. I still do. We don’t have to wander through life by trial and error the way unbelievers do.* But when we aren’t open to God’s answer, and when His agenda is not first in our hearts, it’s all too easy to miss the answers He provides. And then we keep looking . . . right past His wisdom and His way. Like the very first fall, entertaining ‘other’ answers never leads to truth or solution; only confusion and eventually stumbling and chaos.
But God is merciful, and there I was . . . in-between leases and blessed by the generosity of a church friend, I found myself on a tiny island in the Bay . . . asking God if toes in the sand and coffee in hand could be my inheritance. As I snapped this photo for the hypebeast-filtered grid, God said: “Yes; but not yet.” His response was real to me, but my heart and mind were small. After a while I stopped clinging to my angsty dreams of the beach. But even in letting go, it never occurred to me that the way to what my heart desired was moving even further inland.
In the seven years since, I’ve been convinced that I was becoming someone different when I’ve really just been shedding layers and pride. I’ve been chipped away, snipped away, refined and sanctified. Purified.
‘‘But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, which shines brighter and brighter until full day. * proverbs 4:18
‘‘ If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. * james 1:15
At some point during the first summer of the pandemic I was ‘living my best life’ with a light, remote work load having coffee in my car and questioning outcomes. Swanky new apartments with ritzy small businesses beneath them were scheduled to be completed within the next few months in the charming, mostly historically-preserved main streets of the town I had always wanted to live in. And there were other things. Other things that had seemed to me to be good enough renditions of what my heart had wanted. Because of the lockdowns and restrictions on local establishments, I was street-parked outside of the library to observe some life happening and be out of the Turf Shack for a little bit. Looking up momentarily from my Surfer’s Journal my eyes providentially caught sight of a passing license plate that had creatively maneuvered John 11:40 as its designation. Given that there are only 8 characters, which is the limit it my state, it may have just said JOHN1140. ha. I don’t remember. I just remember the passing car and the affirmation of God’s eyes on me when I researched the reference . . .
Jesus said to her,
‘Did I not tell you that if you believed You would see the glory of God?’
This morning that moment from two summers ago was brought to mind as I sat on a bench by still waters . . . remembering the image from the first half of this post and asking God if now is the time? If now is the time, I told Him, I want to hear You say it. I don’t just want impatience and imagination leading me. Wind kicked up with change in its wafting, and He brought John 11:40 back to mind. The Word of God is – after all – the primary means by which God speaks to His people. We don’t know His voice well enough to discern the rhema without diligently honoring the written.
The context of this verse is when Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. There is so much in this story . . . particularly the dancing God does with time. When Jesus hears that Lazarus is sick, He doesn’t hurry to him. Much like in the instance of Jairus’ daughter, God allows for delay to the point where it’s tempting to think that it’s too late . . . that the purpose of going to Jesus for help has been defeated. In no case does that prove to be true.
Here, with Lazarus & Co., Martha confronts Jesus and tells Him what everyone has been thinking . . . if You had been here, my brother wouldn’t have died. In other words, how could You let this happen?
‘‘But even now,’ Martha says, ‘I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.” It seems there is something in Martha that hasn’t given up hope of resurrection. Jesus responds by saying that her brother will rise again. Martha says she knows that . . . in the resurrection, on the last day. But Jesus meant that day. Sooner than you’d think.
And then, He weeps.
And Mary comes and falls at His feet, and says some of the same things . . . ‘‘Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”
So the sisters and the standersby and Jesus all go to the tomb . . .
‘‘It was a cave, and a stone lay against it. Jesus said, Take away the stone. Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to Him – Lord, by this time there will be an odor, for he has been dead four days. Jesus said to her, ‘Did I not tell you that if you believed You would see the glory of God?’John 11:38-41
So they took away the stone.
And Jesus prays to the Father for everyone else’s sake and then He commands with a loud voice, LAZARUS COME FORTH. And he does.
Even in their grief and deep discouragement, Mary & Martha stayed on God’s side – believing to see His goodness. Whatever Jesus said to them in this encounter, they did it. They believed, and they saw the glory of God. Hollapraize.
Two Februaries ago, I became distinctly aware of God’s intent to give me the desires of my heart. We’ve have spent the last two years uncovering them together and even as I await their fulfillment, I have never felt more loved. The journey and process I have been through with God since the fresh start of this decade . . . these so far ‘roaring twenties’ . . . has been so rich. He is making me that way, and far less afraid. I am no longer striving to get to a season where I won’t need to walk by faith.