May 24 Reflections

Meditation, solitude, and silence are practices that I have engaged in most of my adult life. Being a social introvert, the spiritual disciplines of silence/solitude and meditation come easily to me. Alone does not bother me. The devotional masters through the ages have recognized these disciplines as a way to open ourselves up to Abba, Jesus and Holy Spirit and that a relationship with the Holy One is possible. The account of Lazarus in John 11 is a passage of Scripture that is ripe for use in meditation and solitude.

Place yourself in the story with Jesus. There are the questions of Mary and Martha. The despair and grief of the people. The fact that Lazarus has been dead for four days. When Jesus asks to see the place where Lazarus is buried, Martha the practical one points out that there will be a smell. The King James says it dramatically, “he stinketh.” Jesus points out that the way to see the glory of God is to face the dead, “stinky” parts of our lives. If we avoid them, we do not need to weep. If we avoid the stinking mess, we don’t have to face our helplessness, and we need not come into a real relationship with Jesus. If we avoid it, we can do without the courage it takes to face the stench of death. But then we also do without transformation…no stench, no resurrection…

To come alive, to be transformed, I must be aware of the dead parts of myself. The parts of myself buried in past hurt, suffering, loss, rejection do not lay dormant, they affect how I show up every day unless I can bring them into the healing presence of Jesus. I need to let Jesus call out, “Verlyn, come out.” The real me with all the hurt, suffering, loss and rejection must come out. This is a vulnerable place. It is risk. Sometimes I think it would be easier to ignore the hard places because it requires less effort and not as painful. Yet the pain goes with new life. So, listening to Jesus, I wobble out with all my dead places visible, still wrapped in grave cloths of a former life. Then I realize that nothing is completely dead within me, so dead that it cannot be raised. Then Jesus speaks, “Unbind him and let him go.” There is freedom. No longer bound up by the past…the hurts…the pain…the memories…the loss…the rejection. I am set free by the loving power or powerful love of Jesus.

Hopelessness typically comes out of the dead places in us. We have trusted in something or someone other than Jesus. This week in the movement from hopelessness to hope we will focus on the powerful love of Jesus to bring healing to our hearts and souls. Listening for his voice to speak, “unbind him/her and let him/her go.” Some passages on which to read/reflect/meditate: John 11:35-44; Ephesians 1:15-23; Colossians 3:12-17.

May Grace upon Grace,

Pastor Verlyn