Today’s readings (click below to open in new tab/window):
Psalms 97; 147:12-20, Job 29:1, 31:1-23, Acts 15:1-11, John 11:17-29
“The future is now.”
That’s what Jesus was trying to tell his friend Martha when she was grieving for her brother Lazarus. If only he had arrived earlier, she believed Jesus would have saved his life. When Jesus told her “Your brother will rise again,” she assumed he was referring to the resurrection in a distant future. Even after he said “I am the resurrection and the life,” she still didn’t quite get it: Jesus had every intention of bringing Lazarus back from the grave.
Christians spend a lot of time focusing on the afterlife. A lot. Of time. In many ways it makes sense – eternity is a long time and we don’t want to mess it up. But like Martha, we can lose sight of the here and now. It’s not just our faith that lives in the future; we spend a lot of time dismissing the present. We’ll start a diet “after the holidays” even if that holiday is Arbor Day. We’ll schedule that long vacation after our careers slow down a little. We’ll join that Bible study after we get our lives in order. That kind of thinking is a trap, because we train ourselves to believe nothing starts today.
Martha wouldn’t understand the resurrection was standing next to her until Lazarus crawled out of his tomb. We should know better, but the promise of eternal life in the present moment can seem too good to be true. Jesus says otherwise. Do we think we need to improve ourselves before God can bless us? Before God can use us? If we believe that all good things come from God, why do we think we need to put Him off until we’ve laid all the groundwork? Aren’t we actually telling God … not yet?
The future really is now. Christ is among us. You are being called to rise up from underneath all that is burying you. You may have to shake off the dirt, but take that first step. Breathe the fresh air. Step into the life God has ready for you; Christ has already delivered your future.
Comfort: God is ready for you.
Challenge: Believe you are ready for God.
Prayer: Eternal God, teach me to find new life in the present, and to trust you with my future. Amen.
Discussion: What have you been putting off?
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