As I mentioned in my previous post, I am proud to be part of the Lazarus Awakening Blog Tour. I can’t express what a personal blessing this Bible study has been to me. It has been so encouraging! Even though I thought I was familiar with the story of Lazarus, I have learned so much more about it in the past few weeks.
Just like Mary and Martha, I have found myself feeling disheartened when things didn’t go according to my plans and timeline. I know that God has my best interests at heart, but it is so hard to let Him take control when things don’t work out like I thought it should. Instead of giving up that control wholeheartedly, I often will become fretful and upset about situations, wondering why He doesn’t swoop in and save the day like I have planned. It’s at those times that I have to remember that His plan is always on time and is perfect in every way, even if it doesn’t match mine!
This study also helped me to remember that bitterness and unforgiveness has the ability to have us stuck in metaphorical tombs. Jesus wants us to be free of those tombs and live an abundant life. As someone who has been in situation where I just did not understand why things were going a certain way, I have found myself living in a metaphorical tomb of sadness and bitterness. God has used this study to show me to get up and move forward in seeking His will for me.
In addition to the book, a more in-depth study guide and DVD are available. I enjoyed the extra material presented in the stand-alone study guide. I also loved the DVD. I have always wanted to take a trip to the Holy Land, but haven’t gotten there yet. It was so exciting to be able to see the places that I have read about so often. It made the story of Lazarus come alive for me.
Please enjoy this wonderful excerpt from the book:
“To obey or not to obey—that’s the question we face continually in our Christian walk. Some days it’s easy to comply, but other days it feels all but impossible. Especially when God asks us to do something that doesn’t make sense to us.
Like opening our tombs by choosing to forgive.
For many of us, our tombstones and spiritual blockages result from what has been done to us—and our attitudes about it. We’ve been hurt. We’ve been falsely accused or misunderstood, misused or betrayed. And we can’t seem to get past our anger, resentment, or bitterness.
We want to forgive—well, most of the time. Trouble is, we aren’t sure we can forgive. The hurt has gone so deep that the tendrils of our pain seem to go on forever. How do you let go of something that has such a hold on you?
That was my dilemma several years ago. “I have to get alone with God,” I told my husband, John. “I’m in a very bad place.”
We’d walked through a trying time in ministry and, for the most part, I’d handled it pretty well. A space of grace had opened up for me to walk through the difficulty without feeling the intense need to fix it or change the people involved. Opportunities for self-pity had floated through my mind before, but up to that point I hadn’t indulged them. Instead, I’d been experiencing the also-miraculous phenomenon of a disciplined mind.
I’d learned that just because a painful recollection came to memory, I didn’t have to embrace it—a revolutionary discovery, let me tell you. Instead of nursing and rehearsing the past, with the Holy Spirit’s help, I was learning to disperse it, refusing the offense entrance to my heart and, more important, denying it occupancy in my mind.
But somewhere near the anniversary of the hurt, I began to nurse a grudge against someone in the situation. Pain-laced memories began to stick in my craw and bother me anew as the darkness of resentment casts it shadow over my heart.
After experiencing so much victory in my thinking, I grew a bit careless. A particularly painful memory slipped in through a side entrance of my mind. At first it was so tiny I hardly noticed it. But as I allowed my hurt a platform to state its woes, it began to grow, and a boulder of unforgiveness began to move across my soul.
Finally the chill of bitterness sank in so deep I couldn’t even find the “want to” to forgive. That terrified me. With John’s blessing, I holed up in a friend’s cabin and poured out my heart before the Lord. It was slow going at first. My emotions were rock hard, but as I hammered out obedience to forgiveness, things began to change.
At the Spirit’s prompting, I wrote a letter to the person who had hurt me. I didn’t measure my words; I just spilled out my pain. I knew I had to get honest before God about what I was feeling in order for the infection to drain from my heart.
Other letters followed, but not one would be postmarked. I wasn’t writing them for anyone but me. My friends may not have felt the stranglehold of my judgment, but I certainly had. Finally, I wrote a letter to God, relinquishing all rights to resentment and asking Him to bless the people involved.
I was absolutely exhausted when I penned the last note. But with the exhaustion came the beginning of a sweet sense of release.
For in the mind-over-emotion choice to forgive, my stone of unforgiveness started to move. And somewhere in the letting go of those who had hurt me, I walked out free.” – Joanna Weaver
Again, I can’t say enough about this wonderful study! I have learned a lot and felt God directing me to certain passages. Even the circumstances of this study appearing on my doorstep have been remarkable. It seemed to have just shown up on my doorstep. When I saw who the author was and what the subject manner was, I thumbed through the material late that night. I was struck by all of the phrases and thoughts that pierced my heart as I glanced through the pages. Now, it seems like the story of Lazarus is all around me. While working on this study, the next podcast I listened to was on this subject, and most recently, a sermon. God so obviously has a plan, a perfect one! Trust in Him and abide in His love. I pray you will enjoy this study, and it will be a blessing to you too!
You can find more information about this Bible study at Joanna Weaver Books, including how to enter her generous giveaway.
I received a complimentary copy of this study, but all opinions are my own.