By Angela Howard
In John 11:5–6 we see this strange paradox: “Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. Yet when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days” (emphasis added).
Jesus loved…yet He stayed where he was.
He loved…but He didn’t show up when He was expected.
How can that be? our hearts cry. It just doesn’t make sense.
And that is the core of the issue, isn’t it? Because most of the love-doubt we feel can be traced back to troubling contradictions not unlike the one in the story of Lazarus…
As strange as it might sound, it may have been the Lord’s denial of what Martha had wanted earlier in their relationship (Luke 10:38-42) that allowed her to find what her heart needed most on that grief-filled day…
Somewhere in that earlier time of testing, I believe Martha discovered three marvelous, indomitable truths we all need to know. Three rock-solid facts on which we too can rest our hearts:
- God is love—therefore I am loved.
- God is good—therefore I am safe.
- God is faithful—therefore it’s going to be okay…
Martha chose to trust God’s love and His faithful goodness. Because of that, when tough times came, she was able to trust His sovereignty as well—His right to do as He deems best, when and how He wants to do it.
That’s why she could run to Jesus, fall at His feet, and pour out her heart with both pain and sweet abandon. “Lord,” she cried, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask” (John 11:21–22).
Here is the quill of my will, Lord, Martha was saying. You write the end of the story. For You do all things well.
Surrendering the quill of my will has always been a difficult process for me. You see, I have such good ideas about how my story, not to mention the stories of the people I love, should be written…
Unfortunately, none of my planning and plotting has ever drawn me closer to God. In fact, it usually does the opposite.
While I’m busy scheming, my Father is apt to move on, leaving me to work the angles on my own. That wasn’t my plan, Joanna, He gently whispers when I finally call out to Him.
If you want to walk with Me, you have to surrender your itinerary and trust Mine. -Joanna Weaver
Surrender was the key to Martha’s amazing transformation, and it is the key to ours as well. For whenever we choose to give up our agendas and submit to God’s plan, we release Him to have His way in our lives. More important, when we choose to pursue the “one thing” of knowing Christ rather than continually choosing to do “our own thing,” we discover the great depths of His love just as Martha did.
Do you ever struggle with surrendering your plans to God? What do you do when God’s timing doesn’t match up with your own?
That’s an excerpt from Joanna Weaver’s book, Lazarus Awakening: Finding Your Place in the Heart of God. Her new companion DVD Bible study releases on July 21, 2015. In the teaching sessions filmed in Israel, Joanna explores the halfway life too many of us settle for, even as Christians. With the Holy Spirit’s help, we can step out of our tombs and shed the graveclothes that often bind us.
Angela Howard is an author and minister who loves empowering people with authentic encouragement and Biblical perspective for their imperfect lives. Her book: How to Love Your Crazy Family is on Amazon and you can connect with her on her blog at noordinarydays.com.
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