August 9, 2006

The Tie That Unbinds

2006 1522 page31 caphat voice! It penetrated my unconscious mind like a marksman’s bullet.
“Lazarus, come out!” I attempted to jump to my feet but couldn’t move a muscle. I was tied up!
Where am I, anyway?
I opened my eyes but could see nothing as my head was also covered. My thoughts raced. The last thing I remembered was that I was lying in my room with my sister Martha mopping my hot skin. My other sister Mary paced up and down the room crying, “Where is He? Why doesn’t He come?”
I must have drifted off to sleep. But, now, that voice! I would know it anywhere. But I have never heard it quite like this before. It startled me out of my sleep—and what a good sleep it was. I feel great! But why am I tied up? Why is my bed so hard? No, it couldn’t be!
2006 1522 page31Like a flash I am lifted up and propelled forward. I can sense I’m outside, and I have an audience. Then I hear that familiar voice once more, this time in a softer tone, “Loose him and let him go.”
Someone removes the wrap from my face, and I see Him standing there. Now it all comes together: that tear still glimmering on His cheek, that look of triumph, yet sadness, in His eyes, that stench coming from the cave behind me, and the people standing around in mourning clothes with astonished looks on their faces.
This is incredible! Was I really dead? Was it a dream?
I try to pinch myself, but my fingers are still tied. I try to run and jump, but my legs are still tied. I try to hug Him, but my arms are still tied. I try to shout, but my chest is so tight my lungs won’t expand.
Why didn’t the grave clothes just fall when I got up? What’s taking them so long to remove them? Why doesn’t He remove them Himself? I’m sure He would be faster! You would think that He who gave me this vigorous new life would also untie me. But He just stands there patiently looking on as they slowly remove the bandages one by one.
Can you identify with Lazarus? You were sick spiritually, and you died. Then Christ came and penetrated the darkness of your grave, giving you new life and hope. You want to run with the good news, but your feet are tied by difficult circumstances. You want to embrace Him, to work for Him, but your hands are still bound by bad relationships. You want to shout His praises and testify of His goodness, but your heart and your lungs are still under pressure, bound up by the hurts and injustices you have suffered. If only you could just gaze in His tear-stained face some more, but your eyes are covered by the grave clothes of depression.
You may wonder why the new life doesn’t feel better than the old life. If He has given me new life, why aren’t my circumstances suddenly better? Why aren’t my problems solved immediately? Why is the grave-stench of guilt still following me around?
The answer is profoundly simple. There is work for human hands to do. Jesus gave Lazarus a new life. He could have loosed his bonds, but He gave that work to humans. He could heal all of our physical, spiritual, mental, and social problems, but He gave that job to us. As brothers and sisters tied to each other through Christ, we are to help each other unbind those things that seek to hold us captive.
“It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ” (Eph. 4:11-13, NIV).
To this task we dedicate our lives!
Daphnie M. Corrodus is actively involved in ministry. She and her husband Patrick reside in Montego Bay, Jamaica.