*this is a guest post by my friend Kristine Colwill (@kristinecolwill)
Journey Through John – John 11
In his sermon January 19th, Pastor Ryan used this quote from CS Lewis:
“I think we delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment; it is its appointed consummation. It is not out of compliment that lovers keep on telling one another how beautiful they are; the delight is incomplete till it is expressed.”
CS Lewis expressed something so true – that sometimes thoughts and feelings will make us feel like we are about to burst if we don’t get them out. This comes out of us in all different forms: venting to a friend, words of encouragement to another, a poem, a dance choreographed, a love letter, a voice mail, a…..social media status update. Well I don’t think that’s what he had in mind when he wrote this, and I’d wager that there is a false sense of expression that Social Media gives us. If you post a status update it and nobody likes it, or even reads it, does it matter? I’m not talking about the private expression we give to a journal, I’m talking about the outward expression to another that CS Lewis says is a sort of consummation when it is shared with them.
In John 11 Jesus walks through a real life scene that shows us our need to relate to each other in person, and be present in the lives of those around us.
Verses 19 -20 show us “….many Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them in the loss of their brother. When Martha heard that Jesus was coming…”
Their friends did not send telegrams, or flowers, or leave a message on their Facebook wall. They showed up. They were willing to be present in what was guaranteed to be a mournful occasion; to walk through the grief with their friends. I have a friend whose motto is “half of live is showing up”. She believes that life is about being there at your friend’s uncle’s funeral because you love them and know they are hurting. When friends or family are going through things, you show up with a meal, or you swing by and ask if someone would like you to pray for them. Being present is a powerful simple way to tell someone who is overwhelmed and feeling a burden is kept on their shoulders alone: “Friend, put your arm around my shoulder, let me help carry you, and we will weather this together.”
Verses 33-35 show this this unfolding after Jesus arrives and speaks to Mary
“When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled…..Jesus wept.”
I met a massage therapist and we got to talking about her job. We were chuckling about weird situations she had been in when she shared something that I still think about today. She told me about how on a few rare occasions she has had someone burst into tears on her massage table. They apologize profusely, but can’t seem to stop weeping. It takes them a while to compose themselves. You see, some people can walk through their every day – from a quiet breakfast, to a cubicle, to a night alone in front of the TV – without being touched, or even without any meaningful interaction with another human. Their body has an involuntary response and is overwhelmed by the act of touch from the massage therapist. God made us for relationship with each other, and never meant for us to live in such isolation from each other. (If you can tell me what everyone you know is doing at right this moment on Twitter, and even get a note of encouragement from them, but can’t remember the last time someone hugged you, I think it’s time to reexamine how we walk through our daily lives.)
In college we had a student come to our bible study group and share a story. A student from our college that year had gotten into such a dark place that he decided to commit suicide. He had his plan all in place and then thought he would be thorough, so he decided to give God one chance before he took his life. He went and stood in a busy area in the center of campus and leaned against a tree. He said “God, if you are real, prove it to me right now. If you do, then I won’t kill myself.” Another Christian student had been walking across the way, and felt the Holy Spirit prompt him to walk up to the guy standing under the tree, and tell him that God loves him. He paced and argued with himself over what to do. We didn’t go to college in a large town, so this could have meant serious social consequences if the situation went the wrong way. Finally after wandering around for a while they walked up to him. “I know this sounds weird, and I’m sorry. But I just feel like I’m supposed to tell you that God loves you.”
A stunned young man stared back, and a story poured out of his mouth. A burden was lifted, and shared, and a belief in a God who is present was born.
Verses 41-42 “….Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always heard me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.”
I’m not sure a text message would have had the same impact in either of these situations, do you? Jesus was present and showed up in the lives of those around him. You have people right around you today who are scared, lonely, grieving, or who want to celebrate and share good news with someone else because they are about to burst! Let’s become intentional about being people who show up in life. Let’s raise a glass together, and weep together, and let someone say about you, “See how he loved!”.