I find myself again in one of those waiting seasons. Someone this summer said that waiting isn’t a season, it’s a lifestyle. I am not entirely sure I agree; I guess the more “seasons” of waiting I experience, the truer that is.
All I know is that I am definitely waiting right now. Waiting for doors to open or close, or a clear path to emerge amidst the forest.
I’m waiting for God to “show up.” That is one of those phrases that Christians, especially Seminary students, go nuts over – – “God is always with us, He doesn’t just show up sometimes.” It is true. He is always here, always with us, but sometimes it doesn’t feel like it.
People have felt that way throughout history. Even when Jesus was physically here on earth people felt like He did not show up when they thought He should have.
Remember that story of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead? Mary and Martha did not understand why Jesus came “late.” To them, it didn’t make sense. He knew Lazarus was sick, and yet He did not come until after Lazarus had died.
I love this story for so many reasons. One, it is a prime example of Jesus meeting people right where they are, and knowing their exact need. Martha came running to Jesus asking why He didn’t come sooner, and He answered her with truth and teaching. “Your brother will rise again…I am the resurrection and the life” (John 11:23, 25 NIV). When Mary came to Him, weeping and questioning, He cried and mourned with her.
But mostly I love this story because it shows us the beauty of God’s timing. What seemed like Jesus showing up late became one of the best stories in the Bible.
By coming “late” – meaning after Lazarus died – Mary and Martha (and everyone else involved) were made witnesses to a miracle, their faith was increased, and a greater story was told than if Jesus had come before Lazarus died.
Before this, no one would have believed that Lazarus could be raised from the dead. They believed that he was dead and gone. Jesus used this situation to make them all witnesses of a miracle. He raised him from the dead! Sometimes we read these stories so many times we are desensitized to the miraculous. Lazarus was literally in the grave, wrapped in his linen grave-clothes. They were eyewitnesses to one of the greatest miracles ever performed.
Can you imagine the faith you would have if Jesus raised someone you loved from the dead? Mary and Martha must have had incredibly confidence in Jesus after that day. If He can raise our brother from the dead, what can’t He do? (Certainly they would have more faith in His statement that He is the resurrection and the life.)
If Jesus had come just a few days earlier, He could have healed Lazarus from his sickness, and it would have been great. Mary and Martha would have been grateful. People might think it was because Jesus healed Him, but there would certainly be a majority of people who would attribute it to his health taking a turn for the better, herbal remedies, or any other number of reasons people suddenly get over a sickness.
But He didn’t. He came when Lazarus had already died. He told a story that was beyond anything they could have imagined, because there was no other explanation other than that Jesus raised him from the dead. The story goes down in history as one of the few times a human came back from the dead.
So I’ve been thinking about this. How angry Mary and Martha must have been that Jesus showed up “late.” We think that all the time, don’t we? Where are you God? Do you even see me? If you cared, you would have shown up already.
But what if it’s the same reasons for us? What if God’s timing seems last minute to us, but really He is increasing our faith? What if He is making us witnesses to miracles? You can be dang sure that He is writing out a story that is a million times better than the one we would write ourselves.
I’m trying to believe this for my story. I’m trying to believe that God’s timing is not late, it is in fact the perfect timing. His is the only timing that would work, that I can handle.
He holds each of us in His hands. If we trust in the faithfulness of God that we have seen in the past, we can know that we are not only His Beloved, but are characters in an amazing story, being shaped and molded and bearing witness to His miracles.