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Have you ever given a party, invited many people, and no one came? In this week’s chapters, we’ll explore a parable about a great feast and how, when invited, many people found shoddy excuses not to attend. As we hear this story, it seems so strange that anyone would find any reason to miss a marvelous feast put on by the Lord, but he is talking to us. Are we, knowingly or unknowingly, rejecting wonderful invitations that the Lord offers?
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Maurine and Scot Proctor have spent extensive time in the Holy Land, researching the life of Christ. They have taught the New Testament in the Institute program for many years and have written books and numerous articles on the life of the Savior.
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Have you ever given a party, invited many people, and no one came? We’ll tell you about one of those unfortunate times today.
Welcome to Meridian Magazine’s Come Follow Me podcast. We are Maurine and Scot Proctor and today we are talking about feasts, lost things, and something you might not have noticed in the story of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead.
The title of this week’s lesson is “Rejoice with Me for I have Found My Sheep Which Was Lost”, covering Luke 12-17 and John 11. Thank you to all of you who are sharing this podcast on social media and putting it on your ward’s Facebook pages as a resource. You can find these podcasts with the transcripts at www.ldsmag.com/podcast or search Meridian Magazine Come Follow Me on most podcast platforms.
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Last Christmas we invited all of my brothers and sisters to a luncheon at our home. I worked for days getting ready. I shopped and decorated. I made home made pies. I set what was really a beautiful table with my best lace tablecloth. We carried chairs up from the basement so there would be plenty. Two o’clock came when they were all to arrive, and nobody came. Two fifteen, and then two twenty. I began by calling my sister. “Where are you?” I asked, trying hard not to sound stricken. “Oh, Maurine,” she said. “The luncheon is supposed to be Friday not today.” My work of several days was all for nothing.
It is a hard thing to give a feast when nobody who is invited comes, but that is the story we see portrayed in Luke 14: 12-24
There is a certain man, who, of course, represents the Lord, who makes a great supper and bids many to come. He sends his servant “to say to them that were bidden, Come; for all things are now ready.”
But then they all began to make excuses. “The first said unto him, I have bought a piece of ground, and I must needs go and see it: I pray thee have me excused.
And another said, I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them: I pray thee have me excused.
“And another said, I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.
When all the people who had been invited failed to come, the lord instructed his servant out to invite the poor, maimed, the halt and blind, who gladly came, and then when there was still room, the lord instructed the servant to go out and invite people from the highways until his table was filled.
The lord concluded, “For I say unto you, That anone of those men which were bidden shall taste of my supper.”
As we hear this story it seems so strange that people would find such shoddy excuses to miss a great feast put on by the Lord, but he is talking to us. Think how many invitations we are offered from the Lord. He says to us:
“Draw near unto me and I will draw near unto you” (Doctrine and Covenants 88:63).
“Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).
Come ye to the waters, “everyone that thirsteth” Isaiah 55:1.
These invitations couldn’t be more clear if they came engraved in gold. The Lord invites us to come to Him for a feast beyond our imaginations, but so often we find pale excuses. I really mean to take time to pray, but I am just so busy. I would like to put the Lord first, but I have other things on my mind. I would read the scriptures more often, but I think they are difficult to understand.
Yet, “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him” (1 Corinthians 2:9). Our God is a God of the kindest invitations, and we are absent minded and distracted if we fail to accept them. Our reasons for being less than devoted to the Lord will always be flimsy and blind.
We were interviewing Tom and Gayle Holdman, who did the remarkable stained glass windows and mural for the Rome temple and Visitors’ Center. This took them eight years of work. Then when they turned in 804 completed stained glass windows to the Church, they were asked, ‘Could you do just one more?” This turned out to be a mural depicting all the events and parables from the life of Christ. Gayle said, “The Lord invites us to awesomeness, but it looks a lot like hard work.” We don’t have to shrink from the invitations the Lord is sending us.
Think if we weren’t invited to that table. When our daughter Julie was in fourth grade, she told us eagerly that one of her best friends was having a birthday party in two weeks on Saturday. Day after day she watched for the party invitation, but none came. Still she hoped. We can see her still, looking for that invitation. Nonetheless, she insisted that this birthday girl was a good friend of hers and she had to get her a present. On Saturday morning, she took her present, with a big bow, to the birthday girl’s house. We were so impressed that day to see that she didn’t let the lack of an invitation to the party stand in her way of giving love.
But unlike our daughter in that time, we all have an invitation, many of them, to come to the Lord. There’s no place else we’d rather be.
The foolish rich man (Luke 12:13-21)
The Lord in Luke 12: 13-21 also warns us about covetousness saying, that a ‘man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of things which he possesseth.” That’s an important reminder in these days when we tend to think that the really important people are the people who have made it financially. We are almost conditioned to think the rich are smarter and better than the rest of us. The prosperous are the ones God loves. The Lord sees this very differently.
The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully and he said, “what shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits.” So he tore down his barns and built bigger ones to have a place to store his fruits and his goods. With this plenty he took ease, to eat, drink, and be merry.
Here’s the punchline to the story. “God said unto him, “Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?”
We are all temporary residents here on earth with moments that are numbered. What we do with our hearts and time make all the difference. It reminds me of the rich man who died and someone asked, “How much did he leave behind?” The answer? “All of it.”
I grew up on a 220-acre spread of woods and farmland in Missouri and someone said to my Dad, “It must feel good to own this beautiful land.” He answered, “I don’t own it. I’m just a steward here.”
Luke 15—How the Lord Feels about Finding Lost Things
Luke chapter 15 is a series of stories of lost things and how much the Lord values those who are lost and will seek devotedly to find them again. It reveals His patience and longsuffering that he lovingly and carefully regards the lost.
In these stories, we have a lost sheep, which wandered away innocently, a lost coin, just accidentally misplaced, and the prodigal son who brashly exercised his will to leave the safety of home. Yet in every case the Lord is still concerned about the lost. Just because the son chose to leave his father and made choices that degraded him, it doesn’t negate the Father’s love and concern for him.
Have you ever lost something important? How did you feel when it was found? Have you ever lost a small child, or been lost yourself?
(Describe losing Rachel when she was young.) I was frantic, crying, running to find my child and more relieved than I can easily express when I found her again.
From Luke 15 again.
4 What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it?
5 And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing.
6 And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbours, saying unto them unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost.
The words to that hymn ring deeply.
Dear to the Heart of the shepherd
Dear are his “other” lost sheep;
Over the mountains he follows,
Over the waters so deep.
Out in the desert they wander,
Hungry and helpless and cold;
Off to the rescue he hastens,
Bringing them back to the fold.
Speaking of things that are lost rings particularly poignant in this time when so many of us have children who wander from the fold of the gospel. Their testimony is lost. Their way is no longer clear and understandable to us. Their choices may break them. They may even sometimes seem like strangers when they no longer hold the values we cherish. We can be broken hearted over some of our children’s choices. It is good to know how much God values lost things.
James E. Faust, “Dear are the Sheep That Have Wandered,” April 2003. https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2003/04/dear-are-the-sheep-that-have-wandered?lang=eng
Elder James E. Faust said, “Children come into this world with their own distinct spirits and personality traits. Some children “would challenge any set of parents under any set of circumstances. … Perhaps there are others who would bless the lives of, and be a joy to, almost any father or mother.”
“The depth of the love of parents for their children cannot be measured. It is like no other relationship. It exceeds concern for life itself. The love of a parent for a child is continuous and transcends heartbreak and disappointment. All parents hope and pray that their children will make wise decisions. Children who are obedient and responsible bring to their parents unending pride and satisfaction.
King David’s third son, Absalom, killed one of his brothers and also led a rebellion against his father. Absalom was killed by Joab. Upon hearing of Absalom’s death, King David wept and expressed his sadness: “O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! would God I had died for thee, O Absalom, my son, my son!”6
2 Samuel 18:33
We have some interesting promises for those who are broken hearted about their children.
Here’s from Lorenzo Snow.
“If you succeed in passing through these trials and afflictions and receive a resurrection, you will by the power of the Priesthood, work and labor, as the Son of God has, until you get all your sons and daughters in the path of exaltation and glory. This is just as sure as that the sun rose this morning over yonder mountains. Therefore, mourn not because all your sons and daughters do not follow in the path that you have marked out to them, or give heed to your counsels. Inasmuch as we succeed in securing eternal glory, and stand as saviors, and as kings and priests to our God, we will save our posterity.” – Lorenzo Snow, “Collected Discourses,” compiled by Brian H. Stuy (5 volumes) Vol. 3, p. 364
Elder Orson F. Whitney:
“The Prophet Joseph Smith declared—and he never taught more comforting doctrine—that the eternal sealings of faithful parents and the divine promises made to them for valiant service in the Cause of Truth, would save not only themselves, but likewise their posterity. Though some of the sheep may wander, the eye of the Shepherd is upon them, and sooner or later they will feel the tentacles of Divine Providence reaching out after them and drawing them back to the fold. Either in this life or the life to come, they will return. They will have to pay their debt to justice; they will suffer for their sins; and may tread a thorny path; but if it leads them at last, like the penitent Prodigal, to a loving and forgiving father’s heart and home, the painful experience will not have been in vain. Pray for your careless and disobedient children; hold on to them with your faith. Hope on, trust on, till you see the salvation of God.”8
When the woman, described in Luke 15, who had ten pieces of silver and lost a coin, she swept her house and “[sought] diligently till she [found] it.” When she does find it she says, “Rejoice with me.” “Likewise, I say unto you, says the Lord, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.”
One of the tenderest moments in scripture is the story of the prodigal son, who, having left home to pursue wild times, finally finds himself, instead, starving and degraded to eating husks with the swine. That he is eating husks with swine is an interesting story element because that would be an utter abomination for those living the kosher law of Moses.
The words, when at last he “came to himself” is eye opening. “Came to himself.” When we are not aligned with the eternal laws that undergird the entire universe, we are not ourselves. As actual children or a Father in Heaven, with His attributes in embryo, acting in darkness or choosing darkness, is foreign to our spirit. Here in mortality, it is not only God we miss, but our truest nature. Awakening from that, of course, would mean “coming to ourselves.”
Section 93: 23,24
23 Ye were also in the beginning with the Father; that which is Spirit, even the Spirit of truth;
We were born in light and truth, so to act in deception and darkness is foreign to our truest selves and feels uncomfortable and unhappy.
The Prodigal Son turns his face home again. This is the thing we all want to do is turn our face home. In fact, one of the definitions of repentance is to turn again, turn one’s face toward God. Repentance is reconciliation.
What is so noteworthy here is that in that journey back, while he is “yet a great way off” his father “ran and fell on his neck, and kissed him” (Luke 15:20). How could there be a kinder, more tender, more meltingly forgiving embrace than this one? All the longing of a fond parent was poured into this moment with a son who hardly deserved such compassion.
This, father, of course, represents the Lord. Think of the level of rejection this parent had faced.
In requesting his inheritance the boy had essentially said, “You are as good as dead to me. I discard your teachings, your honor, your name, any life with you. “Then, in a fit of entitlement, he says, “I demand that you give me my inheritance.”
Did the father have to sell part of his business or his land to grant this inheritance? Did he impact his own security in doing this? We are not told, but certainly in every way this father’s dignity had been impinged. Add to that the years of agonizing worry he had experienced wondering how his son fared. The injury and rejection was certainly a mountain high.
We are not told how the father knew that the son had turned his face back home or where he was in his return journey when he ran to greet him. It could have been others who passed the word along. Or perhaps the father was so keyed into the boy that he ‘just knew.’ Either way, this running while the son was still a great way off speaks volumes about the depth of his love. No indignity or prior offense stopped the father from running to his repentant son. No indiscretion or riotous living had quenched the father’s love. He fell on his neck to embrace him because being the father he was, he could not do otherwise. It is one of the most moving and compassionate scenes in all of the scriptures.
What a warm welcome for a son. This was given not because the son deserved it, but because the Father was who He was. He is the picture of love and couldn’t be otherwise.
The Other Prodigal
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland “The Other Prodigal”, April 2002, https://www.lds.org/study/general-conference/2002/04/the-other-prodigal?lang=eng
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland gave us more on this story. He said, “A certain man had two sons”—and He might have added, “both of whom were lost and both of whom needed to come home.”
“The younger son has returned, a robe has been placed on his shoulders and a ring on his finger, when the older son comes on the scene. He has been dutifully, loyally working in the field, and now he is returning. The language of parallel journeys home, though from very different locations, is central to this story.
“As he approaches the house, he hears the sounds of music and laughter.”
When the servant tells him why, he is angry and would not go in, so his father came and intreated him.
Elder Holland again,“You know the conversation they then had. Surely, for this father, the pain over a wayward child who had run from home and wallowed with swine is now compounded with the realization that this older, wiser brother, the younger boy’s childhood hero as older brothers always are, is angry that his brother has come home.
“No, I correct myself. This son is not so much angry that the other has come home as he is angry that his parents are so happy about it. Feeling unappreciated and perhaps more than a little self-pity, this dutiful son—and he is wonderfully dutiful—forgets for a moment that he has never had to know filth or despair, fear or self-loathing. He forgets for a moment that every calf on the ranch is already his and so are all the robes in the closet and every ring in the drawer. He forgets for a moment that his faithfulness has been and always will be rewarded.
Elder Holland continues,“No, he who has virtually everything, and who has in his hardworking, wonderful way earned it, lacks the one thing that might make him the complete man of the Lord he nearly is. He has yet to come to the compassion and mercy, the charitable breadth of vision to see that this is not a rival returning. It is his brother. As his father pled with him to see, it is one who was dead and now is alive. It is one who was lost and now is found.
“Certainly this younger brother had been a prisoner—a prisoner of sin, stupidity, and a pigsty. But the older brother lives in some confinement, too.
“…One who has heretofore presumably been very happy with his life and content with his good fortune suddenly feels very unhappy simply because another has had some good fortune as well.
“Who is it that whispers so subtly in our ear that a gift given to another somehow diminishes the blessings we have received? Who makes us feel that if God is smiling on another, then He surely must somehow be frowning on us? You and I both know who does this—it is the father of all lies.3 It is Lucifer, our common enemy, whose cry down through the corridors of time is always and to everyone, ‘Give me thine honor.’”
This expands our vision of who is lost and needs to come home. Some weaknesses are clear like the prodigal son demonstrates. Riotous, immoral living is clearly a sin, but we who do not engage in these obvious weaknesses, have our own. Pride, envy, jealousy, a tendency to comparison.
We are all the wounded and yet so loved. As Elder Holland said, “No one of us is less treasured or cherished of God than another. I testify that He loves each of us—insecurities, anxieties, self-image, and all.” We are all the wounded.
Raising Lazarus from the Dead- John 11
In John 11, we read that Lazarus, a close friend of Jesus is sick unto death in Bethany.
Mary and Martha sent an urgent message about their brother to Perea where Jesus was teaching: “Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick.” Perea is on the east side of the Jordan River, in what is today the country of Jordan, so it was quite a distance from Bethany which is just over the Mount of Olives from Jerusalem.
When Jesus heard of Lazarus’ sickness, He said, “This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God,” and He continued His work two more days in Perea with the calm assurance of divinity, knowing that He would arrive in the proper time.
After two days, He told the disciples that Lazarus was dead, but He said, “Let us go into Judaea again.” This was a dangerous suggestion. Some of the leaders of the people were already scheming for Jesus’ life, prompting Thomas to say, “Let us also go, that we may die with him,” for “they feared lest the Jews should take Jesus and put him to death, for as yet they did not understand the power of God.”
And we call this apostle, doubting Thomas! Look at his valiancy.
As Jesus traveled on the road near Bethany, the news came that Lazarus had already lain in the grave four days, and heartbroken Martha, hearing that Jesus was coming, went out sorrowing to meet Him. “Lord,” she exclaimed, “if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.” How often during that heavy four days since Lazarus’ death Mary and Martha must have discussed this very thing. “If only Jesus had come, if only He had been here.” Still, she had no complaining word for Jesus, no murmuring; she just affirmed, “But I know, that even now, whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee.”
Jesus answered, “Thy brother shall rise again,” which Martha misunderstood, having no idea what was ahead. She said, “I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection, at the last day.” Jesus explained further, “I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: . . . Believest thou this?” This was a very clear witness to her. Then Martha affirmed with loving faith, “Yea, Lord: I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world.”
Then Martha went quickly to her sister with words every believer would long to hear: “The Master is come, and calleth for thee.” Wouldn’t you love to hear those words? Oh, He had come!
As Mary left the home, perhaps with couches and chairs tossed over in the Jewish form of mourning, the mourners followed her, thinking she went to the grave to weep. Instead, she came to the Lord and fell at His feet. Jesus asked, “Where have ye laid him?” to which they answered, “Lord, come and see.” Then, “Jesus wept.” This was not apparently because Lazarus had died, for He knew that in moments His friend would rise. He wept, instead, for love and compassion, for the grief that tore the heart of His friends, for the bruises and scars of mortality, for all that hurts.
This is one of the reasons we love Him. He is a God who weeps, because He is a God who knows our wounds.
At the place of burial, Jesus asked the people to roll away the stone from the cave entrance where Lazarus lay. Martha demurred: “Lord, by this time he stinketh: for he hath been dead four days.” Jewish belief was that a body began its corruption on the fourth day. Though twice before Jesus had awakened people from the dead, the son of the widow of Nain and Jairus daughter, this would be even more pronounced in the eyes of the beholders because Lazarus had been in the grave so long.
To make the scene clear, the Jewish graves were in caves with a stone rolled in front of the entrance. Lazarus’s tomb is still in Bethany, one of those places in Israel that is probably authentic, and you enter by descending 28 steps. Jewish tombs were two parts—a mourning chamber and a burial chamber. Now, of course the tomb had been sealed by a stone, which they rolled away at Jesus request, which would have been a very unusual thing.
Jesus turned His eyes heavenward and said, “Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me. And I knew that thou hearest me always.”
Then in a loud voice that must have shaken the listeners to the marrow, He cried, “Lazarus come forth” And “he that was dead came forth, bound head and foot with graveclothes…Jesus saith unto them, Loose him, and let him go.”
James Talmage noted, “He did not ask the Father for power and authority; such had already been given Him; but He gave thanks, and in the hearing of all who stood by acknowledged the Father and expressed the oneness of His own and the Father’s purposes.”
What moves me in this is not only the raising of Lazarus, but that Jesus said, “I knew that thou hearest me always.”
Consider how different our spiritual lives would be if that was our underlying assumption—that the Lord always hears our prayers. We are neither ignored, nor forgotten, nor put on hold.
Dieter F. Uchtdorf – “Can You Hear the Music?” BYU Devotional, January 15, 2019 https://speeches.byu.edu/talks/dieter-f-uchtdorf_can-you-hear-the-music/
Though the Lord always hears our prayers, and we should approach Him with that kind of solemnity, Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf, in a BYU Devotional reminded us:
- The light will come in God’s time, not ours.
- It will come in God’s way—a way we might not expect or even want.
- It comes as we believe.
“It is the process of a lifetime.
“We are seekers, you and I.
“We are light gatherers.
“We are on this lifelong mission—to gather light and bear it to the world—that will lead us through the joys and trials of life.”
God always hears us, but to hear Him requires patience and faith and continual effort.
Elder Uchtdorf again said:
“Of course, in our age of instant answers, it is not easy to be patient. We sometimes get frustrated when our search for truth takes longer than we had hoped. Information on a wide variety of subjects is now so easily accessible that waiting seems like an unnecessary nuisance. If sending or receiving a message takes any longer than a second or two, we decide something must be broken.
“If anyone has a question? No problem. You can get answers—thousands of them—almost instantaneously. If you want to connect with someone, you can do it in seconds—no matter how far away the person may be.”
“Do you want to watch a video of baby ducks crossing a busy street? You can see that. Do you want a back scratcher in the shape of a moose antler? You can have it on your doorstep within a day or two. Do you want a wall-mounted, motion-activated, lifelike plastic fish that sings “Don’t Worry, Be Happy”? You can find it, and if you act now you may even get free shipping.
“But if you want something of true and lasting value, something of eternal significance, something that connects the now with the eternities, patience and diligence are required.
Elder Uchtdorf continues, “I don’t know why the answers to our prayers are delayed at times. Perhaps the Lord wants us to prove to Him—or to ourselves—just how sincerely we want the truth. Maybe the effort He requires is how we learn to value the truth. Maybe that is how we prepare ourselves to receive and accept the truth. Or simply, maybe it is God’s way of helping us to learn how to hear the music.
“But, my dear friends, one thing I do know: the process of communication between mortals and heaven is not broken. It is real. It is available to you and me!”
Author Wendy Ulrich gives some additional insights on prayer in her book Let God Love You.
She told this story. “I had learned to speak feely to God of my desires for His blessings, my concerns for those I love, my struggles and gratitudes and hopes. But on that day I don’t recall that I was particularly concerned about anyone, nor was I upset or worried.
“I was simply gazing at the distant sky and talking to God as I often did about whatever was on my mind when a still, small voice startled me by talking back. Out of the blue (pretty literally), the questions came clearly and distinctly into my mind:
“Why do you keep me so far away?
“The question stopped me cold”, she said, “both because it wasn’t often that I had such a direct experience of the Spirit speaking words to me, and because the question itself caught me completely off guard. Most of my life I have wanted—longed, in fact, to feel closer to God. I certainly never thought I was the one who kept Him at a distance. Not intentionally, and not consciously. I could feel my mind sort of grind to a stop; I was sputtering and stammering and blinking in confusion. I could not quite imagine what to think, but the implication of the question was clear: God was inviting me to invite Him closer. For right now, at least, I was in charge of the distance I felt between us.
“I had intimate experiences with God before, close and personal moments of sweet and pure revelation. But it had always felt like such moments were quite beyond my ability to ever control. In fact, the more I had insisted on answers, or clung to whatever voice might offer them, the more elusive both became.
“But here was this question, handing in the air, and there was God, somewhere up in the sky, waiting for my response.
“Not sure what else to do, I took my eyes off the spot up there in the sky, turned my attention to the chair on the other side of the ottoman in my office, and tried to imagine God there instead of up in the clouds. But the oddest thing happened: I just couldn’t look. I wanted to disappear into the floor, the pillow, the blinds. I felt in some way I couldn’t even fathom that God really came to that chair, and I couldn’t meet His gaze. I began to weep uncontrollably. I had the strongest urge to fall down on the floor and sob at His feet.
It took several minutes and several attempts before I could so much as raise my face to imagine the face of God so, so close. I thought I would never stop crying, so deep was the reverence that I felt. At the same time, I’ve never felt more keenly the chasm between His goodness and my fallen-ness. Was it only minutes, or years, until my heart finally adjusted to this new proximity, like eyes adjusting to a bright, bright light? Ever so slowly I started to feel that perhaps I could tolerate this state of affairs enough to at least look at where God seemed to be.
“And when I did, somewhere in my mind He spoke again. Sweetly. Gently. And yet His words pierced my soul:
“Why do you keep me far away?
Wendy Ulrich continued, “My heart caught. But He was so close! So close that I almost couldn’t breathe for the intensity of that nearness! Why would He want to be any closer to me, me, when he has so many billions of children to care for?
I felt as if I could not tolerate being taken so seriously and known so intimately by the only, holy God. But the implications of the questions were unmistakable. My weeping broke through again as I tried, almost painfully, to imagine Him yet closer, sitting on the ottoman only inches from my chair.
Once again, I felt almost overcome, realizing that this new level of intimacy, though closer by only a few feet, was inexplicably different from the last. I had invited God into my room, but now I was allowing Him close enough to touch me with His finger. I felt as if His eyes, though unseen, penetrated my soul. Every instinct of my heart was to run and hide and beg Him not to look at me with such pre eyes. It was not that I felt displeasure or criticism or expectation from Him—not at all. It was just that I felt so known, more known than I have ever felt before. I could not hide. But hiding is what I do!
“Nor could I hide from myself in the brightness of that gaze. It was not that I could not stand to see how bad I was. What I could not stand was to see how loved I was, how valued, how known. The very things I had longed for now seemed to burn me as I got so close to them. I sat folded up in my overstuffed chair, barely able to raise my eyes to consider the spot where I was not allowing God to be. Only slowly, gradually, did my crying slow as I opened my heart a little more to the overwhelming aware and reverence I felt for God. I realized with complete astonishment how utterly true it was that I was the one who had kept Him away, for I obviously could barely, barely tolerate what I was experiencing.
“And then, as I felt myself begin to breathe again, I could sense He was about to speak again. I heard within my mind the question:
“Why do you keep me so far away?”
Wendy Ulrich Let God Love You, Why We Don’t, How We Can, pp. 9-12
After Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead, you would think everyone would rush to Him. Who but the Messiah could do such a miracle? Yet ironically we learn in scripture, “Then from that day forth [the chief priests] took counsel together for to put [Christ] to death.” They said, “What do we? For this man doest many miracles. If we let him thus alone, all men will believe on him; and the Romans shall come and take away both our place and nation.” They give themselves away in one sentence. It was greed and self-concern for their position. It was political and fear of what the Romans would do to the nation. It is hard to imagine a greater blindness in the face of a great miracle.
Thanks for being with us and for Paul Cardall for supplying the music.
See you next time.