So That You May Believe
So then he told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead, and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.” (John 11:14-15)
When we heard that my mother had suffered a serious stroke, Kim and my first response was to try and get to the hospital as quick as we could. That’s normal and natural. When Jesus heard that one of His best friends was dying, He delayed going to him. That’s not normal. There had to be a reason for the delay that went beyond what can be seen in the natural.
The disciples were as puzzled by Jesus’ behavior as we are. We gravitate toward what we perceive as normal behavior for us. Someone we love is in trouble? Our first thought or response is to go try to fix it or at least be with the person in his or her difficulty. We become horizontally focused upon the situation and the person rather than upon the God in charge of the circumstances who loves the individual(s) involved more than we could ever think or imagine.
Jesus certainly had that loving horizontal focus for Lazarus. But the horizontal action was determined by His vertical priority. In this case, Jesus explained to His disciples that He had delayed to the point of Lazarus’s death, in order that His disciples might believe. This was not a cold-hearted decision to teach recalcitrant followers, but a sacrificial, loving demonstration that they (and we) needed. Remember, it was the death of Lazarus that brought forth tears from Jesus.
Staying vertical, focused on the purposes and desires of the Father, will bring tears for us as well. It requires doing that which isn’t expected or “normal.” Sometimes it means leaving family and friends to serve the cause of Christ in other lands. There are times it means giving up a lucrative career for the sake of Jesus. What our Savior would like for us to always remember is that after the tears, there was a resurrection.
Listen: Spend a few quiet moments seeking God. Be attentive to whatever He may speak to your heart.
Reflect: How is the Spirit leading you to respond to what you have heard from God?
Confess and Repent: If there is something the Spirit convicts you of, take time to prayerfully confess it. Resolve to turn from it if it is sin, or step toward whatever He is leading you into that you have either neglected or not seen before.
Ask: Lord, help me to pay attention to what You are doing, and then follow You wherever You are going. Let my actions not be determined by what is expected of me by others, but only by Your Spirit. Take me deeper with You that I might do those things that encourage others to follow You, and extend Your kingdom.
- What do you sense God calling you to give up (or let die) in your life so that He can receive more glory? Perhaps it is something you have resisted doing. Could you give it up for a day, a week, or even longer? It may be television, Facebook, shopping or playing games online, etc. Tithe this time to pay attention to the activity of God around you. Journal what God does as you focus on His presence during these times.
- Is there something difficult that God has been calling you to do? Something that isn’t the “easy way”? Perhaps it is something that others would never understand, but which would ultimately bring more glory to the Father if you obeyed. Share this with a trusted spiritual advisor or mentor to see if it seems in alignment with Scripture and how God has created you to live for Him. Ask God to give you the faith and strength to carry out His purposes.
- Is there someone you could encourage today? There may be someone who has experienced tears over some situation or relationship in their lives. How can you share the vertical purposes of God through your love and concern for them? Share a phone call, a note/email, or an act of kindness that reflects the nature of Jesus in their situation.
Taken from Vertical with Jesus by David and Kim Butts. © 2022 PrayerShop Publishing.