The Ones Who Said Yes

I’m tired of saying to God, “You’re not enough.” Not with my words, but with my actions, with my thoughts. With my heart.

The Christmas story is a story of God coming near, heaven breaking open to earth. It’s a story of a God who would do that–and it’s a story of people who said “yes” to him.

Mary. Joseph. The shepherds. They didn’t know what was going on. But they trusted. That God was in control. That he was enough. That he was ______ enough. It wasn’t a big, bold move, of grandeur and glory. Its bigness, in fact, came from the fact that it was unglamorous and unexciting. It was gritty and grimy and unspectacular, because it didn’t culminate in one fireworks moment but meant a lifetime of living this way, a lifetime with everything life throws at you especially when you’re outside its ideas of what should be.

Mary was willing to get pregnant, Joseph was willing to take the blame, and the shepherds went back changed. The “Jesus scandal” wasn’t something that would fade from her reputation. The angels in the sky could be dismissed as hallucinations. But they knew the truth.

And it mattered, because they said yes.

 

This one goes out to the ones who said yes.
The crazy ones
The brave ones
The believing ones
The faith-filled ones.
The ones who are terrified
because it means they could be ostracized
penalized
last in line
classified.
But though they’re petrified
they will not be paralyzed.
They may be quiet
but their lives are far from silent.
I think I hear a rumbling
a mumbling
a muffled far-off thundering
It’s the sound
of a world about to turn around:
Something about it confounds,
astounds the earth-bound,
spellbound,
as heaven is unwound and glory touches down.
They are the unnamed
world-changers
earth-shakers
custom-breakers
culture-makers
change-creators
And all they did
was say yes.
I thought I saw the mountains move,
when what they knew was turned askew
but by a prayer they made it through
and came out with a changing view
and what do you know–
it changed me too.
It’s not that they knew
or lived up to
or had something more than you
but that they just said
yes.
And that was why the mountains moved
and the seas were made a walking-path
and curtain tore when skies went black
and baby lay with cow and calftorch clear
Because even though they were afraid
their answer was what made them brave
They left the shade
They didn’t cave.
It was unspectacular and inexplicable
Not impressive or incredible
and yet it’s somehow powerful:
They said
yes.

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When Jesus Wept: Part One of Four

11.35

 

John 11:35 is the shortest verse in the Bible. But behind those two little words, there lies a powerful theology. Here is part one of the story.

 

Lazarus laid in the bed, his sisters hovering over him. Martha, the elder, the ever-busy one, was bustling around him, trying to make him comfortable–fetching him water, another blanket. Though she knew by now–they all did–that it was pointless, she stubbornly refused to give up.

Mary was sitting by his side. No tears now. She put her hand on his beneath the sheets, but he couldn’t feel it. All he could feel was the pain, and he was ready now. Ready for it to stop. Ready to give in. Ready to surrender, to leave this broken body.

But he couldn’t yet. Jesus wasn’t here yet.

Jesus might be able to heal him. He’d done miracles before. Those who’d been blind all their lives could suddenly see. Those who’d never learned to walk were dancing in the streets. But even if he couldn’t, he had to say goodbye.

Because Jesus, to him, was more than a teacher, more than a prophet. More than a preacher, a revolutionary, even a Messiah. Jesus was a friend, and he loved him dearly.

Jesus would come. He had to come. He had to.

That was why Lazarus was holding on.

But he could feel himself slipping away. Jesus should have been here by now. The message had been sent two days ago. What if…

Lazarus’ thoughts dissolved in another round of wracking coughs. Martha ran to fetch him more water, and he didn’t have the breath to tell her not to waste the time. The light was already drawing nearer, spots dancing before his vision as his sister’s face faded.

Jesus hadn’t come.

And Lazarus was gone.

 

Out of the nothing, he heard a voice. A familiar voice, it seemed, but he couldn’t place it.

“Lazarus, come out.”

“Is that you, Jesus?” He’d come! But how…why was everything dark? What was that bright light? Why was he in a cave? And good heavens, WHAT was he WEARING??

“Lazarus.”

He stood, carefully, loosening the tight wrappings enough to walk, and moved toward the light. Blinking, he stepped into the sun.

As his eyes adjusted, he saw his sister’s teary faces, suddenly full of joy. Running toward him, they nearly knocked him over with a huge hug. “You’re back,” Martha choked. Mary was too overcome to speak.

He looked around, and saw them all, his friends, his parents, his cousins and their wives. Standing there in shock as the dead man walked out of his own tomb.

And then his eyes found Jesus.

The prophet was standing there, with red eyes and a blotchy face. His eyes glistened, and Lazarus went to him.

“You came,” he breathed.