Fireweed. God had placed a burst of color amid the land of the dead and it was then that I got this analogy for my life.
I have suffered tragedy. While the details are not all that important what is important was that it destroyed my life as it was. It came through my life with such intenseness and heat that I feared I would not survive it, and often I prayed I would not to as the pain got too intense to bear. I felt like I was alone, I felt no one would or could understand, I felt betrayed by people, by God and even by myself. I wondered if God knew what had happened for surely, surely this could not be His plan for me, His daughter. There was nothing “normal” in my life, not would life ever be “normal” again and perhaps if God just knew about it, He would explain, He would fix it – He would be my knight in shining armor and at any moment, He would show up and right the world.
As I starred at those blacked sticks, standing lonely on the hillside of those mountains, I felt they were my picture of my life. My charred remains, that was me, void of life, hope or emotions. Surely this was not living and almost certainly there was no good to come, I would be like this forever. After all those mountains had burned several years ago and look, look at them….. Still the same after all these years, no good for anything! That was them and that was me!
It’s easy to see the damage, then and now, but what is not easy to see is the growth that has been made since the fire. The growth of relationships that have been there for me, the closer family ties, the wonderful friends who did not leave me. Just like those little bursts of color under the burnt trees of fireweed, growth was happening, whether I could see it or not. Whether you can see it in your life or not.
Look at the story of Mary and Martha in the Bible – when their brother Lazarus was sick – they called Jesus to come. But He didn’t, at least not in time. Lazarus died, and even Jesus wept. But Lazarus was still dead, buried in a tomb for at least 4 days before Jesus got there. The grief, the pain, the emotions still billowing in on this family. They lost their hope, they had hoped that Jesus would restore their brother to health, but now, well now, it was final – he was dead. They could see the blacked stumps of a forest fire – it had burned through their family leaving it charred and void of life. Their family would never be the same on this side of heaven.
But you see, this little family did not and could not recognize that Jesus could made something dead – new. That He could offer hope in the darkness, hope when there wasn’t any. And does not He do it in a way that you ever expected.
What did Jesus tell them to do…… Roll away the stone! The stone covering the burial cave, the stone sealing up the foul odor and the death. Jesus could have removed the stone by Himself – hey it was His show, His moment to shine.. but He told the people, the you and me’s to move the stone. Why?
I am not 100% sure of the why, but I would like to offer you my guess. As we walk along in this life, there are many times, that we will need resurrecting. Sometimes it is for us, sometimes it is for other people, but to be resurrected we will have to remove the stone. To see what we or others can not, to see hope and vision, beyond a tragedy, to see the tiny burst of color pushing it’s way up under the black trees and see with some kind of hope to the future. Will it be easy? Nope. Will we want to? Nope. But when push comes to shove, there will be a stone that we will need to push out of the way. Jesus wants us to take the first step – roll away the stone, even when we think it’s going to stink on the other side.
When we take that first step to hope and help – we will see the Glory of God that Jesus talked about in this story “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?” John 11:40
Oh and they did! Jesus commanded Lazarus to come out and up he rose, alive and well.
Maybe this little analogy has touched you, in your life you have had tragedy strike. You can not see anything except the blacked ruins of what used to be your life. You can not see hope or life in any direction. You stare out at the blackness and say to God “if only you’d been here….” Or “God if only you cared…” or “God where are you!!”…..
My friends God is still in the business of resurrecting lives! It’s happening today, all around us, and we have to look for it. Look for the color amidst the blackness, the fireweed amongst the charred masses. God is the one who can take ashes and bring beauty.
This is God’s business – bringing life out of death, and beauty from ashes – let us be in the business of moving stones!