Good morning, friends. I usually do not write so abruptly, but I felt led this morning. While in devotion, the Lord took me from sadness, guilt, and anxiety in reflecting on my life to finding myself in worship. I have made mistakes, and sometimes the weight of my choices and living through the consequences appears overwhelming, mainly when it affects those connected to me. I began to talk to God about the posture of my heart this morning and how I was feeling. At that moment, I felt this small, still voice whisper in my ear, get in my presence. Friend, I was praying, and it was like the Lord was saying yes, that is nice, but I need you to come in and not just stay on the outside of where I am dwelling today.
I went to my office and began to worship the Lord in my rut of heaviness. I began to weep softly the more I worshiped and thought about gratitude. So in the stillness of my home, in the early morning, I entered the presence of the Lord with an open invitation. As the tears began to roll, I was overwhelmed with two thoughts wrestling for control in the presence of the Father. First, gratitude about things dear and close to my heart, and second, the shame that continued to try to keep me bound like a bear trap. The pain was overwhelming, but fighting to break free simultaneously. Perhaps you have never found yourself in this place. I would encourage you to pray for those around you that may, at times.
As I sat still, fighting to get into the presence of the Lord and out of the way, the Lord immediately whispered, “Empty tombs.”
So Jesus, again being deeply moved within, came to the tomb. Now it was a cave, and a stone was lying against it. 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.” Jesus said to her, Did I not say to you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?”
~ John 11:38-40 NASB ~
The Lord led me to this verse, and three things stuck out to me and gave me encouragement, which is my hope for you.
The first, Jesus, again being deeply moved within, came to the tomb. Jesus went to the place that death perceived to have control. The phrase “deeply moved” means Jesus is angry about what appeared. The theologian, John Calvin wrote “that Christ does not come to the sepulcher as an idle spectator but as a wrestler preparing for the contest. Therefore no wonder that He groans again, for the violent tyranny of death which He had to overcome stands before His eyes.” Friend, the Lord will not stand idle while you sit in a place not made for you. The tomb appears final; it seems to encapsulate our demise. Jesus came to the tomb to say not so; this is not the end. He desires to meet us where we are; when He shows up, it transforms. It becomes alive and Holy. In the text, the tomb is rendered sacred by the presence of God, the essence of holiness. How about our lives? The tomb (the dead place) transforms into a sanctuary. Where we are free to worship and become revived in the presence of our Lord and Savior, to me that is good news friend.
The second thing I noticed was, Now it was a cave, and a stone was lying against it. You see, the tomb was a cave that looked like something more purposed. In historical context, to any passing, the tomb was considered a holder of dead things. When we pass a cemetery today, we do not hang out there daily because what is inside is considered and has been pronounced dead. A stone is a lump or complex consolidated mineral matter that varies in size that can be hard to move or break. In this text, it is large and prevents movement. Sometimes the stone in our path is not placed by us, but we appear defeated due to the circumstances surrounding us. The place (tomb) we might currently find ourselves in keeps us trapped where we are and disillusioned by the environment. What am I trying to say? Get up – what is hindering you is not as heavy as it seems when Jesus is near. Friend, no matter what you are facing it is not as bad as it seems. Take a deep breath and let Jesus enter that place that holds dead things that seem insurmountable.
Thirdly, 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.
Here is the good news. The stone that appears to hinder us from breaking free is movable if we hear and take action. What is your stone? What is the thing that seems unmovable and stands in the way of a breakthrough friend? Here is the thing – it is unmovable without Christ. Jesus is calling right now. You are in the presence of Jesus, and He waits for us to come. Not only come from our tombs, but He desires us to not concern ourselves with what has happened (the stench) but focus on the revival and resurrection in our lives.
He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.
~ 1John 5:12 ~ NASB
This morning I had to remind myself that I am no longer in a dead place but have come into the presence of Jesus and am alive. As I write, the song titled; I Thank God by Maverick City is heard in the distance. I hear the lyrics, He picked me up, turned me around, He placed my feet on solid ground, I thank the Master, I thank the Savior Because He healed my heart, He changed my name, Forever free I am not the same, I thank the Master, I thank the Savior, I thank God.
I choose to thank God and am grateful that the tomb I once was in is empty.