One of my favorite scenes in the New Testament is when Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead in John 11: 38-44. “Roll the stone aside,” Jesus tells those around the burial place, a cave cut into the hillside. After the stone is moved, Jesus calls out in a loud voice: “Lazarus, come forth!” The dead man obeys, and Jesus then commands that Lazarus be freed from his burial linens and let go.
Aside from the brilliant drama of the moment, the undeniable demonstration that Jesus is the Lord of life, I am especially fond of this passage because I heard it proclaimed in church at a pivotal time in my own life when I was struggling with direction.
My fifth child was almost a year old, and I knew it was time to move on from having babies.
But move on to what?
As a full-time stay-at-home mom, I’d devoted fifteen years to raising my children. About once a year, I managed to produce a Christian magazine article, which satisfied my desire to write. (All my other desires were to get more sleep.) Since I still had a young child, I knew I wouldn’t be heading back to outside employment for at least another five years until she entered kindergarten, and even then, I’d need summers off to be home with my kids. What kind of work could I do, other than answer one of those ads in the back of magazines for someone to stuff envelopes as their own home business?
That’s when I heard the Scripture proclaimed at church.
And it immediately struck me that I needed to roll a stone aside in my own life – the stone of my own excuses that prevented me from committing myself to developing ALL the gifts God had given me.
Because excuses aren’t the same as authentic obstacles.
I didn’t have an enormous, heavy rock to literally push away like the friends of Lazarus had. Yes, I had important demands on most of my time, but I realized that some of those demands were also self-imposed – stones I had placed in my own pathway. With two teens in the house who doted on their baby sister, there wasn’t any reason I had to be the only one to mind the baby for an afternoon, yet I hesitated to lay that responsibility (stone) on my older children. Once I did, though, it was good for all of us – my teens learned new skills in carrying that particular stone, and with it removed from my path, I had several hours a day to develop my writing skills.
One by one, I worked at rolling away the stones of excuses so my writing talent could come out of its cave. When my fifth child left for college last fall, I was sad to see the end of that phase of my life, but so excited to greet the new one waiting for me.
What stones do you need to roll aside to answer God’s call to new life?