There is compassion in the pain

Processed with VSCO with a4 preset

The story of Lazarus is really striking a cord with me this morning. The story is written below.

“Now a certain man was sick, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. 2 It was the Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped His feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick. 3 So the sisters sent word to Him, saying, “Lord, behold, he whom You love is sick.” 4 But when Jesus heard this, He said, “This sickness is not to end in death, but for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified by it.” 5 Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. 6 So when He heard that he was sick, He then stayed two days longer in the place where He was. 7 Then after this He said to the disciples, “Let us go to Judea again.” 8 The disciples said to Him, “Rabbi, the Jews were just now seeking to stone You, and are You going there again?” 9 Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours in the day? If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world. 10 But if anyone walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him.” 11 This He said, and after that He said to them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I go, so that I may awaken him out of sleep.” 12 The disciples then said to Him, “Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will recover.” 13 Now Jesus had spoken of his death, but they thought that He was speaking of literal sleep. 14 So Jesus then said to them plainly, “Lazarus is dead, 15 and I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, so that you may believe; but let us go to him.” 16 Therefore Thomas, who is called Didymus, said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go, so that we may die with Him.”

17 So when Jesus came, He found that he had already been in the tomb four days. 18 Now Bethany was near Jerusalem, about two miles off; 19 and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary, to console them concerning their brother. 20 Martha therefore, when she heard that Jesus was coming, went to meet Him, but Mary stayed at the house. 21 Martha then said to Jesus, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 Even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You.” 23 Jesus *said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” 24 Martha said to Him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” 25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?”27 She said to Him, “Yes, Lord; I have believed that You are the Christ, the Son of God, even He who comes into the world.”

28 When she had said this, she went away and called Mary her sister, saying secretly, “The Teacher is here and is calling for you.” 29 And when she heard it, she got up quickly and was coming to Him.

30 Now Jesus had not yet come into the village, but was still in the place where Martha met Him. 31 Then the Jews who were with her in the house, and consoling her, when they saw that Mary got up quickly and went out, they followed her, supposing that she was going to the tomb to weep there. 32 Therefore, when Mary came where Jesus was, she saw Him, and fell at His feet, saying to Him, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.” 33 When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, He was deeply moved in spirit and was troubled, 34 and said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to Him, “Lord, come and see.” 35 Jesus wept. 36 So the Jews were saying, “See how He loved him!” 37 But some of them said, “Could not this man, who opened the eyes of the blind man, have kept this man also from dying?”

38 So Jesus, again being deeply moved within, came to the tomb. Now it was a cave, and a stone was lying against it. 39 Jesus said, “Remove the stone.” Martha, the sister of the deceased, said to Him, “Lord, by this time there will be a stench, for he has been dead four days.” 40 Jesus said to her, “Did I not say to you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?” 41 So they removed the stone. Then Jesus raised His eyes, and said, “Father, I thank You that You have heard Me. 42 I knew that You always hear Me; but because of the people standing around I said it, so that they may believe that You sent Me.” 43 When He had said these things, He cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come forth.” 44 The man who had died came forth, bound hand and foot with wrappings, and his face was wrapped around with a cloth. Jesus *said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.””

I think there is so much here to uncover. One, this really happened, and that alone is beautiful, but most of all I see the tenderness of Jesus so much in this story. I’m going to try to unpack all that I feel the Lord saying in this.

When Jesus heard that Lazarus was sick and was going to die, he stayed where he was for two days. He didn’t immediately move to interfere with the sickness. He didn’t come to the rescue like they thought he would. He stayed where he was for two more days.

When I read that my mind takes me to Martha and Mary’s house. Martha is worried and Mary is probably assuring her that Jesus will be here at any moment. He loves them after all. He would never let Lazarus die. “I trust him” I can hear Mary say and she does, she trusts Jesus because she’s seen him heal before.

When Jesus finally enters their town, Bethany, Lazarus has been buried in his tomb for four days. Four.

Martha and Mary hear that Jesus is in town, Martha goes to him, Mary does not. “But Mary remained seated in the house”

This is when I start to get emotional. From previous stories we know Mary loves Jesus. We know her passion for him. The fact that Mary doesn’t run to Jesus immediately signals something wrong.

I can feel the disappointment that Mary is simmering in. I’ve felt that same disappointment. She was confident that Jesus would come and Lazarus would not die. When he didn’t come I think she began questioning if he really loved them. If he loved her he would have came, right? If he loved them Lazarus would be alive and this pain and disappointment wouldn’t be in the pit of her stomach. Surely Jesus didn’t want her to bury her only brother. Why didn’t he come? Where was he when she cried out for him?

Martha tells Jesus what Mary emphasizes later. “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” Jesus talks to her about resurrection and life and believing in Him. Martha responds almost robotically. Yeah, Lord, I KNOW BUT……

Martha tells Mary that Jesus is asking for her, I can hear him ask it; Where is my Mary? Please, have her come to me. I think Jesus knows she’s hurt, I think he knows she’s disappointed.

When Mary hears that Jesus asks for her she runs to him. I love that. Sometimes in pain and disappointment and fear we just want Him to call us near. We want to trust that he sees us even if we are mad at him.

When Mary sees Jesus, she falls at his feet and cries “if you would have been here Lazarus would still be alive.”

How many times have we cried this out to God? WHERE WERE YOU? if you were here this wouldn’t have happened.

Jesus saw Mary and all the people caring for them crying and he was moved with compassion. Let’s remember that Jesus didn’t wait because he didn’t care. He waited because it was going to bring glory to God. Lazarus’s death was going to be a time where people saw God for who he was.

In the midst of Jesus knowing what was going to happen he cries. They take him to the tomb and he weeps.

Even when we don’t see his plan, even when we distrust him he comes close and is compassionate towards us. He enters into our pain even with his knowledge of what is to come for us.

While he’s crying the people that were with Mary and Martha say “couldn’t he have saved him? Why is he crying, if he opened the eyes of a blind man he could have saved Lazarus”

In times of despair there are voices around us ready to agree with our fear. If God was good why did he let this happen to you? If he was really God he would have stopped it.

All the while He’s choosing to feel your pain and weep next to you.

All this goes down and he tells Martha to open the tomb. Open it to your dead brother. Open the wound that feels too painful to see. He wants us to trust him with our pain because he’s about to do something incredible.

They open the tomb, and Jesus prays thanking God that he has heard him. He says

“I knew that You always hear Me; but because of the people standing around I said it, so that they may believe that You sent Me.”

He cried out with a loud voice “ LAZARUS COME OUT” and he did. He came out with linen strips bound around his feet and his face wrapped in cloth. He came out. He was ALIVE.

I believe sometimes God waits to respond to our crisis because he has something beautiful waiting afterwards. I believe that this life is not about us and what God can do for us, it’s about what we can do for Him. When he allows hard things to happen to us, it’s never because he doesn’t love us, it’s because he knows that he will be glorified, that people will hear your story and they will believe in him. He’s using you so that others may have hope.

When I read this story I see his grace all around. I see how gentle he is even when we accuse him of being absent. He looks at us with compassion and asks to see the tomb.

What has died in your life that you blame God for? What have you lost that he’s waiting to make beautiful, that he’s waiting to show you the miracle, and the purpose of the pain. Let’s invite him into the tomb friends, let’s let him unbind us and set us free.

Advertisements

The Glory of Simple

“Do few things, but do them well. Simple joys are Holy.”
-St Francis of Assisi

18055743_10158472425100401_2424059104861918531_o

I’m beginning to see the glory of simple. The beauty of small gestures and whispered encouragement. The behind-the-scenes instead of center stage. To love without a microphone, to love without recognition. To do the simple acts of each season without looking to the next.

I become too emerged in the spotlight. I look over to see if I am being noticed, if I can become seen. I glance across to the girl who has an adoring audience and I become angry and jealous. I want applause and compliments, and published works. I want more than I have, more than I am called to right now.

Do trees or vines or plants produce fruit every season? No. There is a time for production, a time for harvest, and a time for rest. I will not always be producing the amount of fruit I believe I need to be.

What will happen if I begin to listen to the Lord and say,
“What you have given is enough?” What If I can believe in daily bread instead of planning to stock my food pantry for month?

This season I am in is about being faithful in the simple things he is asking of me right now. He is asking me to write what I see and am inspired by and not worry about who will or will not read it. He is asking me to continue showing hospitality to anyone who enters my home and to love my husband. Nothing more, nothing less. However, my over achieving tendencies continue to burst into overdrive.
“God, I can do more. I can always do more! See me?”

I need to learn how to rest in simple acts of holiness, embrace the season of behind-the-scenes love, obey what I have been given, and love God through these things instead of striving to achieve recognition.

I continue to feel the Lord say, “Look at me. Just at me. Don’t look anywhere else.” This is what I imagine Jesus saying to Peter as he began to walk on water in Matthew. He begins by looking only at Jesus, but as soon as he looks away he falls. Every time I look away from Jesus, I start to see the people around me and compare what they are doing to what I am doing. That is when I fall. Although I fall, He always picks me up.
“Oh you of little faith! Don’t you trust the love I have for you?”

When I look away I feel the overwhelming tidal wave of earning, striving and making my own way, but when I look at him, oh when I look at him, I remember. I remember who He is. I remember his voice, the way he takes care of me, and the way he calls me worthy, important, enough.

Simple joys are holy. I want to embrace the simple and embrace the holy. To do only what he is asking of me right now in this season, and not worry about what’s coming or what was. I want to find joy in the life of daily bread desiring to be full on this day alone.

No more striving, comparing or coveting someone else’s season. This season is mine, I am His and nothing can replace the things he is giving me right now.

Give it all away

15073490_10157786730140401_2473582584771989509_n

My current job is a ministry job. I work at a homeless shelter that believes that Jesus is Lord and when he changes hearts, he changes lives. I work at this job 8:30am until 5:00pm Monday through Friday. My husband and I also lead a married small group every Monday where we provide dinner. We volunteer at church a couple Sunday’s a month. We continue keeping in contact with friends near and far, and my dad spends almost every other weekend in our 750 square foot apartment. This is a lot of people and a lot of time. I am telling you all of this because I am an introvert; I refuel by being alone. Most of the time I can wiggle in one or two nights of rest. I can choose to say no to things most of the time. I tell myself I should say no because I already do “too much.” Though, I’m starting to wonder if this is more a selfish attitude than an attitude of Christ.

The implementation of boundaries is being preached on more and more. Saying no to something that may make you too tired or too busy is often encouraged. Let me first say there is a balance, and I do believe we need to take care of ourselves and our mental health. I’m not promoting burn out, but I am promoting being interruptible.

I am a very selfish person. I almost always choose myself. It requires the Holy Spirit to make me want to think about other people. I’ve picked up the idea of boundaries, used it and abused it. I have built walls around myself so that I don’t have to give too much, I can give just enough without being hurt. I can love Jesus and love my neighbor, but only when it is comfortable for me and when I am not too tired or when it is convenient.

Four years ago I was doing overseas missions. I was gone for about a year. Every day I was spent. I was pushed to my breaking point. I was asked to give more than I had. More time, more energy, more food, more money, more passion, more prayer, more praise, more effort, more everything. Every day I would go to bed exhausted because every ounce of me was being given. That time in my life was where I felt more alive and the closest to God. I was living and breathing the scriptures. I couldn’t do anything before first being filled with the Spirit. That’s what I think I’m missing, and maybe you’re missing it too. I’m not filling myself up. I’m not allowing God to “pour me out like a drink offering” (Phil 2:17). I will allow just enough to be poured out, but don’t pour out too much, Lord! I need to save some for myself, I need to take care of me, no one else will, right?

I’ve picked up expectations and boundaries like luggage, carrying them around with me, never letting anyone forget that these are mine. You cannot touch these.

Jesus asks for more.

He asks for me to lose my life to find it. (Matt 16:25) To love others so much that I forget about myself. He asks me to seek first his kingdom, not my own. (Matt 6:33)

Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did.” (1 John 2:6)

Jesus lived his whole life submitted to what his Father wanted. He was interrupted time after time.

I’m reminded of the story of the woman who touches the hem of Jesus’s robe in Luke chapter 8. He is walking with his disciples through a large crowd and so many people are grabbing him, including his disciples. This woman who has been bleeding for twelve years reaches out and touches the hem of his cloak and is immediately healed. Jesus, in the midst of this chaos asks “who touched me?” The story continues with a conversation with the woman. I urge you to read it on your own, but, what I want to highlight is how Jesus stops. He stops in the midst of a crowd that the scripture says is “crushing him.” He allows himself to be interrupted. He allows himself to be given to this woman. I don’t do that often enough.

I want to live my life in submission to what the Lord has in store for me, for his family. I want to be able to come home from work and still be available to be taken from. I want to say yes to someone who is in need and desires my time instead of pushing them away because I’m tired or because I need my “alone time” first. It is all an excuse. Jesus promises to be living water. We have access to that water any time we want, just as he promised the woman at the well. (John 4:14)

I believe when we are giving ourselves and serving others, Jesus is going to provide for us. He is going to fill us because he is the well that never runs dry.

That’s what it was like while I was doing missions. Living to the fullest, and pouring it all out to be filled again. I want to know I am living at my full capacity, loving with no agenda and serving without expectation. To give all I have of myself. To love so boldly it is impossible for me to keep any for myself. None of what I have is mine. It’s all his. All my gifts, all my talents, all of myself. He’s asking me to give it all away, and that is what I am going to do.

I’m not afraid of being wrong

img_6386

 

My whole life I’ve fought being wrong, feeling wrong, and looking wrong. I have never wanted someone to find out that I was wrong because, then; who would I be? I’ve found something out: I’m wrong a lot of the time. I’m wrong probably more than I’m right. I’ve realized it’s okay.  It doesn’t make me a horrible person, it just makes me human.

I’m also in a place where I’m questioning things. I’m questioning belief systems I have because I want to know if they stand on their own.  Do I believe these things because that’s what the church has told me is true or because the word of God has spoken this into life? I’ve come to this point in my life because two things are happening; one, close friends have become atheists, and two, close friends have been severely hurt by the church. I want to know why these things are happening. I want to know why the people who claim to be daughters and sons of God–who is Love–have the least amount of love to give. I want to know why my friends who have questions are pushed away for being toxic or dangerous to the church. I want to know why a church would call someone toxic and have no reservations about it. I want to know why Christians are fighting the fact that racism is real in this country, or that gay and transgender people are people too. I want to know what belief systems are causing this.

Am I a Pharisee or am I a disciple? Am I missing the point? Have I moved too far into judgement and condemnation or am I choosing grace and truth? I am close to tears writing this because I don’t want to be so focused on the rules and on the way-it’s-always-been-done to the point where I’ve forgotten to look people in the eye. I don’t want to have an agenda or a project of people. I want to always choose to see people as people and not the means to an end.

I’ve been sharing multiple different articles on facebook, most of them about the injustice happening towards our black community– some about the gay community–and I know it’s making people uncomfortable. Here is where me being wrong comes in: I’m okay with the fact that I may be wrong about the things I’m sharing. I’m okay with that, but I think these things are worth honest conversations and lots of prayer. I think it’s worth talking about because people are hurting and suicidal. People are being pushed out of churches when they should be welcomed in. Church isn’t for the healthy, it’s for the sick. “On hearing this, Jesus said to them, ‘It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.;” (Mark 2:17)

If I’m wrong, so be it! If I am, I know the Holy Spirit will soon correct me, but what if I’m right? What if it’s time for us as a community to stop clenching our fists and closing our eyes to this world? I think it’s time we stop talking for one second and just listen. I want to hear the stories of people who I’ve overlooked because they were too broken. I want to know how I’ve hurt them by my words so I can ask for forgiveness. Can we stop surrounding ourselves with people who think the same way we do so we can learn and grow and be challenged? Please, can we listen instead of rebuttal? I just want people to know Jesus, the real Jesus, not the one we’ve made in our image. If I’m wrong, that’s okay, but if I’m right, we need to help those we’ve hurt, because we’re hurting a lot of people.

I don’t have this life all figured out, no one does, but I think we’ve come too far into trying to defend ourselves.  We are worried about being wrong. When it comes to hurting people, being right or being wrong does nothing in the face of suffering. I’m going to be reflecting way more on my life and the ways I could be hurting people around me instead of helping them, I urge you to please join me in this. Lets listen more than we speak.

a new introduction.

3

I need to write.
I need to write because it allows me space to breathe and move and create. I need to write because it’s part of who I am, and I think I’m learning it’s the biggest part. Whether I’m the best at it, I’m mediocre, or you read this and you think this is the worst blog you’ve ever read, I’m going to keep writing.
I’m making a commitment right now to write more. Not just more but once a week. To make an active post on this blog once a week so maybe I don’t go insane and so maybe my thoughts and the words I put on Microsoft word will help you find hope. Maybe I can show you that you’re not alone, and that I’m out here with you, shifting around uncomfortably trying to find where I’m supposed to plant my feet.
I’m here, and I’m writing, and I’m laughing, and I’m crying, and I’m engaged to the man of my prayers, and I get married in 2 weeks and 2 days.

38

This blog isn’t just going to be my ramblings, well, yes it is, but it is also going to be about our life. By “our life” I mean mine and my fiancé/husband’s life (When you’re 2 weeks away from being married fiancé sounds wrong.) and the life we are living in our small but big apartment in Michigan. This blog will now be filled with stories on how I broke the toilet seat and how maintenance won’t call us back. (This happened.) It will still continue to be filled with my honest and raw reactions to the unfair and the fair ways of life and how I see the Father in every situation, or how I try to, at least.

44

What I’m trying to say is;
Hi, I’m Chelsea Miller (Tracy, in 2 weeks) and I’m 22 years old.
I started this blog after I came home from the World Race and had no place to leave my thoughts and worries and cares so I put them here.
Now, almost a year later, I am coming into a completely new season and I want this blog to have a place, a home, here, in this new season. It needs to have a place.
I am a writer at heart; I’m an expresser, and a feeler. I need to write down the things that happen to me, and how I see them so I can see Him in them. When I write things down they become clear and hopeful and wonderful. I hope if you find yourself here, you feel comfortable and at home. I hope my words move you into a deeper relationship with Christ, and maybe you will laugh a little bit. I think when people express, and create, the world lightens a little bit. When people are honest about where they are people relax a little more into who they are. No one can pretend to be perfect and right all the time. I hope this place can be a place where you don’t have to be right, because I’m not going to be.

5

You are now invited into this crazy, wonderful, adventure I am embarking on.
It’s called life, and I think I’m finally learning how to live it.

47