That In-Between Place

Many people lose their faith when they forget Lazarus. By human standards, it was far too late for him to receive his miracle. Four days in the grave doesn’t even take a lawyer to convince us of his demise. His sisters, Mary and Martha were devastated, both telling Jesus if only He had been there, their brother would have been saved.

For America, the last decade has been ripe with all kinds of Lazarus-loss. Everyone reading this probably knows someone, or have themselves lost a home or a job. A loved one or a marriage. No matter how advanced our culture becomes, hardship slips in on the breeze, impervious to financial status or healthy living. Parts of our lives crumble into the tomb where it’s dark, hopeless.

Trying to move forward can be full of bitterness; waking up to heartbreak every day, dragging our feet by that tomb holding our loss. Where is God when the good 100_2418things start to slip away? Is His eye still on the sparrow?

Jesus didn’t scold the sisters for grieving or confronting Him about His absence when he showed up days late. He mourned with them.

Then He walked to the cave in which Lazarus was buried and raised him from the dead. Earlier, right before His journey to Bethany, He tells the disciples that He is going there to wake Lazarus, saying, “…and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe.”

There’s this place in-between where God works, like the three days between Jesus’ death on the cross and His resurrection. The days between Lazarus’ death and his own restoration. In this place, we’re reminded that we don’t rule the world. We can’t control our circumstances, but if we do like the sisters and the disciples and keep our eyes focused on Jesus, He’s going to show us how our circumstances can bring hope to a struggling world. Hope beyond what we could ever have imagined.


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The Magical Kingdom

The wind moans through the park as I stare at the old tree. It cranes over, dry and brittle like a tired old man. Its back is arced from carrying heavy branches that creep across the expanse of it like withered spikes on a crown. It looks one moment away from crumbling back into the dust.

I hold on to a that picture two hours after my Grandpa walked through Heaven’s door, and for a wonderful minute I feel some of his joy as he left his failed body 100_1071behind and walked into glory. His crown is new now, and I’m sure, full of splendor.

I sift through the memories like we all do when we lose someone. I can smell the downy fresh sleeping bags draped over dusty camper beds. I hear him and my Grandma singing on their front porch as we string beans, and the sounds of multiple trips to Disneyland play their faded tunes. My Grandpa never outgrew the magical kingdom.

I take another look at the tree, a heavy shadow tucked inside the Christmas lights strewn about. Life blooms and celebrates around it. It’s really a picture of all of us—those who can see the lights weaving among those who only see the shadows.

I step back and take it all in. If I take my glasses off it all whirls together. It’s no longer joy separated by pain, party here and sorrow there. It’s a true magical kingdom—a glimpse of heaven touching earth.

But that’s how it really is. Even though there are days when walking in the shadows of the fallen seems like the only thing to do—days when it feels like everything has fallen—seeing the magical Kingdom around us is just one choice away.

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