I’m taking a spiritual direction course which meets each Tuesday evening… on my way to class, I turned on the NPR station out of OSU and they happened to be broadcasting the memorial service for those killed by the driver of a car who crashed through a barricade and into the crowd during the homecoming parade in Stillwater on October 24.
I listened as a man read the names of those who were killed and expressed how they were valued community members. I began to feel the pain of their families and the pain of the one responsible for their deaths. There was a moment of silence during which I prayed for those affected and joined in as the crowd prayed along to the Lord’s prayer. As bagpipes played Amazing Grace, I teared up and sang the words to myself… I listened to the mayor’s words of encouragement and turned off the radio for the rest of the drive in silence.
When I got to class, we spent our time in lectio divina. The passage was from John’s gospel account of the raising of Lazarus (John11:33-44).
So… as I read the passage, I felt Jesus’ deep compassion as he entered the scene, then the rise of his own emotions as he confronted the loss of his dear friend. You know how it feels when you enter that funeral and you’re holding it together, and then you see your close mutual friend. You embrace. A lump forms in your throat, your eyes begin to sting and you begin to weep…
I really felt his presence there in that scene. He was not aloof to the situation, not somehow above it. He was there, down in it. “Jesus began to weep.”
Some of the apparently critical onlookers questioned why Jesus—who could heal the blind—couldn’t have prevented Lazarus’ death. But I wonder, does Jesus’ greatest work in us occur when it may feel like he failed to act? Those times when he doesn’t fix the obvious problem or change the current situation but rather chooses to work inside to give us the strength and power and confidence to make it through.
I think that Jesus wants me to know that his deepest power is revealed through time, as I allow his miracle to work inside of me, to bring life where there is only death and rotting stench. Lazarus died eventually, but the deep spiritual work of Christ is something that never comes to an end.
Perhaps the creator of the universe is tired of constantly being asked to do parlor tricks and is much more interested in being with me in my pain and failure, to show me what it means to be a human bearing the Divine Image.
Do I want Jesus to only fix my problems, or am I willing instead to allow him to do the deep work inside of me that may not get noticed, but will bring inner peace and inner healing that can be shared with others? This really is what I want, but it sometimes feels too arduous or frankly just that nothing is happening at all. These are the times for prayer.