Welcome to Week 7 of our study – The Awakening!
In order to fit the book study into an 8 week format, we’ve combined chapters 7 & 8 of the book and I found that the chapters were a perfect combination!
First let’s look at chapter 7.
“When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come forth!” – John 11:43
Chapter 7: When Love Calls Your Name: “It’s Personal!”
When the Lord Jesus called out at that tomb, He issued a very personal call.
He called specifically for Lazarus to come out of that tomb!
Have you ever wondered what would have happened if Jesus had simply said “Come Forth”? I have. And I imagine that every single corpse within the sound of His voice would’ve have been resurrected that day! But God had a specific purpose and specific appointment on that day. And it was to call forth “Lazarus”. That call was for no one else that day. It was for Lazarus alone. It was a call designed for one man and one man alone! That day was appointed in heaven to be the day that Love called Lazarus’ name. You and I have that same appointment. For most of us, we can recall the day, the moment, the hour that Jesus came to save us. The day that Jesus came to set us free. Aren’t you so glad that LOVE called you by name?
God not only calls our name, but He desires to speak to us daily. In chapter seven, Joanna shared so many key points on ‘hearing from ‘ God.
- Tuning our hearts through prayer
- Tuning our hearts through God’s word
- Tuning our hearts by recognizing His ways
- Tuning our hearts by obeying His voice
1. Aside from reading the bible, Joanna talks about the different ways that God may use to ‘speak’ to us (recognizing His ways: repeated themes, impressions, confirmations, checks in our spirit). How does God speak to you?
1. How about those times when it seems God is silent? Is there something that God is ‘silent’ about in your life right now? Even when we feel that God is not ‘speaking’ to us, we need to remember that doesn’t mean He’s not working all things for us.
Those times when God is quiet, trust Him and wait. For when the right time comes, you’ll hear from Him again. (pg 118).
Now let’s take a look at our next chapter.
Chapter 8: “Unwinding Grave Clothes”
“The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face. Jesus said to them, “Loose him and let him go.” – John 11:44
Lazarus came forth but was still bound in burial rags.
He was alive…but bound.
Because how many know that you can be born again and ‘risen from the dead’ but still be tangled up in burial clothes! Areas in your life and heart that still have the sheets and coverings of death all over them. Still bound up in something, bound up in old bondages, old arguments, old sin. Living a new life, but you still in bondage to the old thought patterns, behaviors and actions/reactions.
This verse is so powerful and it never ceases to amaze me how God wants us (you and me) to partake of the Divine! In this portion of scripture, we read about Jesus’ command to Lazarus (the dead man) and then we read about Jesus’ command to us (the bystanders, the believers, the body).
You see, there’s a part that Jesus does and then there’s a part that He expects the body of Christ to do. It is for us (believers) to participate of the ‘unbinding’ of one another.
Here is where we need community. We need each other. Often, it is the task of Christian community to complete the action of Resurrection. Jesus has called forth new life: Lazarus come out!” But he still has burial clothes on.
“Unbind him, and let him go.” Those should be the words which are our orders every day, every new day. Unbind somebody. Where you find someone in bondage: your friend, your wife, your husband, your companion, even the stranger. Where you find someone struggling to be free, unbind them and let them go. Do not keep them tangled up in the old affairs of sin and death. Those clothes constrict and make us ill.
Jesus, therefore, proclaims to us, to all of us, to the body: “Unbind him, and let him go.” Those are really the powerful words of today’s gospel. Don’t hold on to the past. Do not hold on to sin. Do not hold on to death!
It’s for this reason that I truly love our bible studies and small groups.
I believe that even more than a large corporate setting, it’s in these private forums that we are able to take each other’s grave clothes off and help one another come unbound, loosed and set free to move forward in our walk.
Jesus does not choose to act alone in his work of raising the dead. He needs followers who will share with him in his grief for the world, and also in his anger at the damage death has done to the world. He needs followers who will roll away the stone when he commands them to do so. He needs followers to watch him cry and watch him pray. He needs his church revitalized and equipped for mission: a community of praying, reading, studying, worshipping, serving, and reaching followers in search of others whom Jesus loves.
He needs followers who will unbind those whom he has given new life to and set them free. Jesus needs you and me.
And yet, even in this…it must be done within the parameters that God Himself sets for us. You see, most times, the crux of adversity is the very crucible God uses to forge us, purge us and strengthen us in Him. If we go beyond what God is asking us to do in helping someone, we not only ‘enable’ them but we can hinder the process of growth that God has fashioned for them.
The story of the chrysalis
As a pastor/minister, there is so much in this chapter that resonated with me. So many key lessons for us when working with ‘graveclothes’. You see if there’s one thing I’ve learned is that we cannot be more compassionate than God. There are limits to what we can and should do for others. Because if we do more than God is asking, we could actually end up doing more harm than good. (pg/139). Just as in her story of the naturalist who tore off the remaining chrysalis off the butterfly and in the process tore its wing. The struggle was God’s process of strength-building. By interrupting the process, we actually leave the person weak, vulnerable and delay their purposes.
Resurrection in our dead places, resurrection from our ‘tombs’ is oftentimes a struggle, oftentimes uncomfortable and scary. Choosing to leave our tombs and choosing to live can be frightening and hard but it is a choice and a ‘work’ that we must do ourselves.
Jesus asked the man at the pool of bethesda but one question: “Do you want to get well?” There are things that you and I MUST do for ourselves if we are ever going to “get well”.
In our ‘unbinding’ of graveclothes, whether our own or others, we must be clear on one thing: We are NOT God and We are NEVER meant to be anyone else’s ‘Messiah’.
We are called to be ‘friends of the Bridegroom’, loyal to Christ and His work in our lives and the lives of others more than being able to help and/or fix everyone.
Because God has always been more interested in shaping the character of His children than simply providing them comfort. He is the potter and we are the clay and He shapes and forms howsoever HE deems best.
There are times when what He deems best is simply to step back and loose those binds through prayer and intercession. As a pastor I find that, more often than not, this is the case. We must understand that when God calls us to simply ‘intercede’ it is so that we do not ‘interfere’ with the process of ‘strength-building’ in the individual.
No matter what graveclothes you are unbinding, whether your own or others remember, Keep pressing on toward Jesus. Graveclothes are shed best as we pursue our friendship with Him. For as we fix our eyes on Jesus, we become less like us and more like Him (Psalm 34:5)
“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” – Galatians 5:1