Already Included #9 – Lazarus

Is the story about Lazarus and the rich man a literal story about real people? Meaning was it a literal story meant to tell us something about a literal experience about a literal hell? There must be some other point to this parable. I think Jesus using the name Lazarus, to refer to a dead person, would probably have purposely caught their attention and helped them dig for a deeper meaning. In real life, the real Lazarus was raised from the dead by Jesus after being physically ill. By contrast, it was the religious leaders who shunned the sick and needy on the premise that outward manifestations of such a degree were indicators of internal sin and not being right with God.

We struggle with the same issue today: “But God, I know all of the right answers. Why is evil so-and-so being ‘blessed’ and I am not?” I think Jesus was saying to the religious leaders then what He would still say to us now: do not live by physical sight. There is more out there than what you see in front of you. Than what your religious traditions are telling you. There is so much more going on. God is way bigger than the boxes we try to put Him in.

If we applied our own logic about the blessings/righteousness correlation to Jesus, then how could we ever believe in Him? He led by example. He did not come like an earthly king or the mythical gods in our minds. He started out appearing as a bastard child. He started out being covered by humans in shame. Born not as a celebrated Savior by those who postured authority. We had no room for this God. We stuck Him in a barn with the animals. We treated Him as such His whole life. This Creator of every glorious beauty we can find and imagine. We whooped Him. We treated Him worse than we would treat an animal. He had no earthly home. All abandoned Him. Yet He was God. Was He separated from His Father because of sin? Of course not. John 8:29.

Jesus promised us tribulation, but He said He overcame the world. Whatever circumstances we find in these present times is not a reflection of any degree of being better than anyone else. The religious leaders knew this in their hearts. Surely their consciences were pricked. Not just to be irritated; I think with love The Lord is shaking their flimsy pedestals. His passionate wrath is always FOR them – also. For those that He knows will deal with their fear in the only way they see how: by destroying what threatens their thin sense of security.

The rich young ruler knew it. Nicodemus knew it. Something just wasn’t quite right and settled in them. They had everything they were supposed to have and yet there still was unrest and a lack of peace. But they were the ones who were supposed to know everything. So Jesus meets them wherever they are and He uses their own logic to shake them awake. Always loving them. Not being repulsed by their blindness or their sin. It is we who hide in trees of fig leaves. Seeking all sorts of emperors’ clothes to cover the shame we feel. God asks us where we are hiding. Not to punish us. But to turn our eyes back to Him. To see who He really is. The gates of our hell are always open. We are always welcome to return home to the Father’s heart.

These religious leaders know there is something different about Jesus. They are drawn to Him even as their house of cards is threatened by the highest authority of actual Truth. His passionate wrath for their freedom and full restoration means He can’t leave them unchallenged. He can’t stand by quietly as they persist in what is killing them. Knowing full well that He can take all they throw at Him. Like a dad correcting the toddler. Knowing the toddler doesn’t get it, but it will be better for the child in the long run. Knowing the child will throw a tantrum. Not threatened by it in the least. Even better than the best human dad. No ego. Completely unthreatened by whatever we can imagine to throw back at Him. We are and always have been safe. Not some theological exercise. He proved this in the flesh, His flesh. He cried tears and sweat blood for us. Fully God, fully Father, fully Jesus. Again, for us. For His great love for us. Not accepting that any should perish.

I think Jesus is pushing their and our logic to its ultimate end. Not to leave them alone and abandoned. Just the opposite. To show them they can’t and don’t need to do it all alone. More importantly, they never were meant to do it alone. Even more specifically: they have never been alone. Never separated. Just because they turned away and couldn’t see does not mean their perspective is reality. It was never about money, works, or knowledge.

Nicodemus: be born again. Rich young ruler: be perfect. Rich men: be Lazarus. It’s impossible. THEIR logic pushed to its limits. So their hearts can be open and ready to see and listen for something other than empty rhetoric. Ready for another way of looking at themselves, this life, and God.

For more on my thoughts about the rich young ruler, please see https://sarahnyhan.com/2017/11/16/asceticism/

Sound

I read earlier that atoms are more like sound than anything else. I am not qualified in the least to speak on scientific matters. However, that statement about atoms fascinated me. It immediately resonated.

Psalm 33 says, “By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, and all the host of them by the breath of His mouth.”

And one website says: “…in a sense an atom is made up of waves (particles called electrons, protons and neutrons) bound together by (virtual) light, which is itself a wave.”

I read that to almost say atoms are made up of sound bound together by unseen light.

BOOM. Mind blown.

It just makes my spirit so happy! Science mirroring what we know from the Bible. Creation was spoken into existence and is held together IN Jesus, also referred to as The Light. Wow!

And then when you look into more of the science of it, only more and more correlations and fascinating information is to be found.

It makes me wonder how young we really are as a people and a planet. It makes me wonder endlessly about a lot of things.

I guess we will have all of eternity to find out how it all works. And probably participate.

Not Alone

Elijah said to God, “…I alone am left…” and God said, “I have reserved seven thousand”. After He comforts him and gives him nourishment. After He says, “Go, return on your way to the Wilderness”.

Possible that things will get worse before they get better. Do not be afraid or dismayed. The battle is not yours, but God’s. You will not need to fight in this battle. Position yourselves, stand still and see the salvation of the Lord, who is with you. Do not fear or be dismayed. Go out against them, for the Lord is with you.

If you have run with the footmen, and they have wearied you, then how can you contend with horses?

Things might not get better for awhile but I am not abandoned. Prayers are being answered. For good. Just not the way that is wanted or expected.

The disciples were loved and safe in the boat even though the waves were whipping all around terribly.

Fighting to stay rested. Almost what it seems like. And yet still He is the One fighting for me. Can I really just be a kid on His lap? Let Him do ALL the heavy lifting? Seems like everything is being stripped away to where I have no other options.

I was reading about how we think a day starts at sunset but the Jewish people think the day starts at sundown, I believe. So I guess when it is dark, that means the light is around the corner. Not the end but the beginning.

Presence and Glory

March 4, 2018 sunset.

Heart-warming mind-blowing thought of the day: God spared no expense. To create us and then ensure that we would be with Him forever. That is love. Not ego. One thing you can count on.

All the rest of the details? Ask and you shall receive. Knock. Seek. Doors will be opened. You will find. And be found.

Presence has been the theme for me the past twenty-four hours. Knowledge is great. But not an end. All this studying is a path. To be in communion with our Creator. Worship as in participatory celebrating. Take your seat at the table. Experience and encounter God and His love for us. In truth. Christ in us. Our hope. His glory.

Garments

I was thinking about the phrase: “God gives us all an invitation to the table.” I remembered in Matthew the part about how there was one guy who got kicked out of the banquet hall because he didn’t have the correct wedding attire. But the previous verses specifically say the people who were in the banquet hall were people of no means. Surely they did not have wedding garments stashed away in their bags as they lay begging on the sides of the highways?

So were they given wedding garments by the king? Was the problem that the man who was kicked out was trying to cover himself by himself?

Is there any parallel to Christ being our covering? And to Adam and Eve attempting to cover themselves? They were kicked out also.

The story in Matthew is about a wedding feast and we are the bride of Christ. Is there any connection with Passover? The people were being covered by the blood of the lamb as death passed over them.

A quick Google search seems to confirm my suspicions: the tradition seems to be that the King provided the clothes for the wedding guests. Just as Pharaoh provided clothes for Joseph’s family when they arrived. Which makes me wonder – Joseph was in trouble in the first place because of his colorful garments.

I could go on and on. So much to explore.

Who Are You?

Where do you find your identity? Who are you?

Do you define yourself by your career? What if your career is stripped from you? By something in the industry, your failure, or the failures of others? Who are you then? Do you still have value?

What if you lost all your money and had to resort to begging? Would you be just a beggar?

Do you define yourself by your appearance? What if you had a terrible accident or lost your health? Who would you be then?

Do you define yourself by who you are associated with? By your family, your spouse, or your friends? What if they all were gone or turned on you? Who would you be then? Do you still have value as an unmarried person or an outcast?

Do you define yourself by your level of educational attainment? What if you lost your mind? What if your knowledge and skills were not needed in the market anymore? Who would you be then?

Do you define yourself by your children or the lack thereof? What if they turned on you or were gone? What would that say about you? Do you still have worth when you are unable to conceive? What if you have aborted a child? Does that define you?

What if you were paralyzed, blind, and mute? Totally dependent on others? Would you still have value? How would you define yourself then?

What has been stripped away from you? What are you missing today? What is holding you back from moving forward? From enjoying this day?

Certainly sadness is not a crime. Or anger. But what story are you telling yourself about who you are and your place is this world? What story are you telling yourself about God?

Your time is not over. But even if it was… who are you?

Here’s something to consider: you were created in the image of God. What if I am the Sarah-ness of God? What if there is nobody else in all of time past or time future who is able to represent the Sarah-ness of God like I’m able to? What if your name is Joe or Pam and you are the Joe-ness or Pam-ness of God?

Look at the animals. So much diversity. So much Creativity. All of nature, even in its fallen state, is telling us about who God is. He created majestic sealife and silly puppies. Beautiful flowers and huge mountains.

How much more do His humans bear His image? The love that so passionately moves us. The courage we have. Our concern for others. Our creativity. The excellence of an athlete or the smile of a child. Even our tears.

There is only one of you in all of Creation. You alone are able to be you. You alone carry what the world needs to see about the you-ness of God. Nobody else can express that exactly like you can.

Now that would give you meaning everywhere. To yourself. To others. To God.

Of course we pervert the image we have been given. That’s a given and not the issue at hand. But I’d bet a good portion of our perverting comes out of not knowing our value and who we are. Of trying to be something more and yet less than who we already are.

What if God loves you? Really loves you? What if He enjoys nachos and a jamming beat as much as I do? What if He enjoys sunsets and the ocean as much as I do? What if His heart breaks for the broken as much as mine does?

What about you?