Take Off Your Grave Clothes
Last time I shared the resurrection story of Lazarus and how it took Jesus four days to reach His friend. Yet because of that “delay,” so much more took place than a healing. Everyone witnessed a miracle. It’s a great reminder as we wait on signs of this pandemic ending and the good things we are praying so hard for on the other side of it.
As I wrote that message, I also felt God’s gentle nudge that I wasn’t done. What did Paul Harvey used to say? “Now, for the rest of the story.” Well, it’s time to share. I’ve said it often, but I only write when I feel God’s leading, and only the words I feel I’m supposed to. So here goes.
Imagine. Lazarus makes his way out of the tomb bound with linens. Alive. But as Martha pointed out to Jesus when they arrived at the stone, Lazarus had an odor. Another Bible version said there was a stench. But dead for four days. That’s going to be a horrific smell, and the look can’t be any better.
So what if while everyone is rejoicing and praising Jesus, Lazarus hopped off in those linens to continue with his new life?
Days later he’s at the market browsing the figs when the vendor smells Lazarus before he sees him. And when their eyes meet, that’s about all the fig guy can see, Lazarus’ eyes. Because he’s still in grave clothes.
Of course the thought is ridiculous, and fiction on my part.
Yet, how many of us experience a fresh start, a healing, a second chance—and we walk around in the old? We carry the stench of death with us, and hop around in our proverbial grave clothes?
In the New International Version, NIV, once Lazarus emerges,
“When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come out!’ The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face.
Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.” John 11:43-44
The last week or so I have felt a new direction in prayer. Beyond decreeing this virus be destroyed by the blood of Jesus, not to return, beyond praying protection, health, and provision for the front line workers, I feel it’s time to pray for our lives once restrictions lift. Will we stop in our tracks every time someone sneezes? Will we feel tempted to load up, really load up on toilet paper just in case?
Because I think there’s a difference between fear and wisdom. I think living in fear is the same as staying in the grave clothes. Life IS going to be different. When I watch old TV shows and see a crowd, I already think about social distancing. It’s a new way to think. But instead of grave clothes, it needs to be grace clothes.
Let’s take the lessons we hopefully learned in isolation and make them our new way of living. Immense compassion. Abundant generosity. Amazing reconciliations and forgiveness.
Because we are close to returning to public living outside our home. Let’s make sure the grave clothes are off, and our fragrance is sweet.
One isolation accomplishment was my daughter Hannah and I completed our series, Surrendering Stinkin’ Thinkin’, with You’re Brilliant. It’s available for pre-order and will soon be in print. Although it’s part of a series, it can be a stand-alone as well. This is for young teens and women of all ages. Check it out!