Sunday, March 22, 2015

Fifth Sunday of Lent: God Waits, Keeping Promises

“Do you believe …” that “I have promised, and I will do it, says the LORD”? – Jn 11:26 & Ez 37:14

A little boy was afraid of the dark. One night his mother told him to go out to the back porch and bring her the broom. He turned to his mother and said, “Mama I don’t want to go out there. It’s dark.” The mother smile at her son reassuringly, “You don’t have to be afraid of the dark, dear,” she explained. “Jesus is out there. He will look after you and protect you.” The little boy looked at the mother real hard and asked, “Are you sure he’s out there?” She replied, “Yes I’m sure. He is everywhere, and he is always ready to help you when you need him.” The little boy thought about that for minute and then went to the back door. He opened it a little and said, “Jesus, if you're out there, would you please hand me the broom?”

I’m like that little boy. I focus on fear, often asking for a miracle so I don’t have to face the present challenges in my life. This Lent has not been easy. It’s almost over and I haven’t done a good job with my Lenten practice. I’ve been feeling a lot of self-doubt, perfectionism, and giving in to the nagging voice that “I’m never enough”. My deep insecurities have come back like the first 27 years of my life. I am tempted to focus on my dark side, on my lack of faith. Jesus, if you're out there, would you please hand me the broom?

In today’s Gospel, Jesus does three things. He wept. He waited. He raised Lazarus from the dead. When I turn my focus on how Jesus responds to Lazarus’ severe sickness and the grief of his sisters, a shift happens. I notice a similar pattern in my life. When I turn my focus on what God is doing and how God sees, I discover a greater Spirit. I find myself looking more at Jesus, and asking how he is present, hiding, and working in my life. I am surprised that he is waiting with me, going through what I’m going through, yearning and longing to come closer to free me from my fears and insecurities. He asks me, like he asks Martha, “Do you believe in me?” Slowly slowly, I find new life and spirit in my day, giving me strength to wait patiently, to be with people who suffer, and to untie whatever keeps them from trusting God and living fully.

Our Lenten journey is like Lazarus’ movement in today’s Gospel. From death to life. From being bound, to being freed.  We can focus on “Jesus, are you really out there in the dark?” Or we can turn our gaze on what Jesus is doing in our lives, calling us from our tombs, to untie and set free.

God chooses to wait, keeping promises. How will you respond?

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