Monday, June 9, 2014

Unwrapping A Dead Man's Wraps ??

Sometimes we are asked to do things that don't make a lot of sense [for example, from my own personal life recently] : go and give up 18 months of your life and turn it completely over to Lord and His work. 

Most 19 year old girls in the world would find this sort of idea far from normal or peculiar to say the least.

Before I dive more into this recent development, i'm going to dive into a very insightful story from John 11. This is the story of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead (which in and of itself is awesome) but until my class this week I hadn't thought a lot about the other characters involved in this story: particularly Jesus and those observing Lazarus arising.

As I have noted in previous blog posts, it is sometimes natural to jump and look only at the physical miracles Jesus performed in the New Testament. Although it is wonderful that He did those miracles, we sometimes forget to look at the spiritual miracles in the story as well.

#1: Jesus Mourns with Those That Mourn (Sound familiar?)
John 11:35 : "Jesus Wept"
Reading this my first time through, I assumed He was crying because He was sad for Lazarus. In my New Testament class we discussed how Jesus knew that He was going to raise Lazarus from the dead before He did it. So then comes the question... why is Jesus crying? My professor proposed a wonderful idea, which in summary he said: You guys, we look to Jesus who cries when we cry. When we are baptized we promise to mourn with those that mourn, and Jesus is the ultimate exemplar in this story. He isn't crying for Lazarus dying because He knows He is going to raise him. He is crying because He looks around and sees all of these people that He loves... crying.
This part of the scriptures jumped out to me as it never had before. We are saved by the Son of God... who mourns with us because he loves us. I ask you, how can you better mourn with those that mourn, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort? I know I can do better at sympathizing with others and I will begin trying harder because this story gave me motivation towards doing better at that.

#2: "Move the Rock and Unwrap Him"
John 11:39, 44 : "And Jesus said, Take ye away the stone...Loose him and let him go."
Isn't it interesting that Jesus had the power to move the stone alone, but asked those watching to do it instead? We discussed in class how this was a total leap of faith: an outward expression at their internal faith in the Son's power. The second thing He asked was much harder: to unwrap Lazarus. Keep in mind this is 4 days after Lazarus is declared dead, he stinks, and at this time in history you were considered unclean if you were to touch a dead body. This was a complete separation from any social norm that they were used to. Why? Why does Jesus make us do hard things that are so out of our comfort zone??
I believe it's once again a leap of faith. I also think that He wanted to give these people an opportunity to help Lazarus so that they all can grow into better people.

#3: Miracles don't change people, the Holy Ghost and personal conversion does.
John 11:46 : "But some of them went there ways to the Pharisees..."
I can't reiterate enough that physical miracles do not cut it. Sometimes they happen, and sometimes they don't; what really changes a person is faith and conversion through the power of the Holy Ghost. So many people demand signs and wonders to believe in God but this story alone tells us that even raising a man who was dead for 4 days back to life does not equate to a perfect and lasting testimony. These were amazing miracles, but let's try our hardest to focus on our internal, spiritual miracles in our own lives: because those last an eternity unlike physical miracles that eventually die out.

I love this story because as I studied the different characters and the things Jesus asked them to do, it teaches me that I will be asked to do hard things. I can choose to follow Jesus, or I can choose to follow someone else. But that someone else can't motivate me, change me, or love me the way that Jesus can and does.

When I got my official call from the Lord to serve my mission, I was ecstatic beyond what words can say. Although it was really exciting, those moments only briefly lasted before opposition slapped me in the face. There have been really great moments ever since getting my call, and really hard ones as well.

I can not tell you enough how much the knowledge that :
a) Jesus asks me to do hard things to change me into a better person,
b) I have been asked to "unwrap" people in the Dominican Republic from the bondage of the blindness of the world. In other words, I have been called to help people feel free, whole, and complete, by teaching them how they can use the atonement of Jesus Christ in their own lives.
c) I have being lead by a perfect being; one who loves me, mourns with me, and rejoices with me.

Has helped me in my own moments of peril when I am thinking: Why in the world am I doing something so hard and out of my comfort zone? 

As you go through your moments of wondering how in the world you are going to do something out of your comfort zone that God has asked you to do (like a new calling, a new job, a new major...) remember that you are being lead by a god who loves you, who stretches you, and most importantly who changes you.

Last I ask you: How can you help those who are wrapped up in hard times? Who feel like there is no escape from their own wrappings? There are angels around us, and sometimes you are one of them.

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