As we headed to house church last week, which meets in a house across the street from us, I regretted that I hadn’t had a chance to have personal time in the Word. We were early, and while we waited for others to arrive one of the members invited us to pray for some of the needs that we were aware of. During that time of prayer Amalie approached me and started leafing through my Bible.
When I peeked at her she said, “Read the Bible, Momma.”
“You want to look at the maps, Amalie?”
“No, read to me,” she replied. She pointed to Mark 16. It was the story of the resurrection. God was pursuing me with a lesson just for me.
I began reading about the women who were on their way to apply spices to Jesus’ broken and lifeless body. I was struck by verses 3 and 4: “They were saying to one another, ‘Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?’ Looking up, they saw that the stone had been rolled away, although it was extremely large.”
From this small passage I saw something I’d never thought of before, and it came to me like God was breathing on me as I read, because it applied directly to what my heart has been wondering as we face a year of difficult transitions, great financial need, and sure emotional highs and lows. I, like the women on their way to the tomb, have been wondering how I’m going to move the stone.
The stone of transition wearies my soul. The stone of financial need, and all the sorting and figuring and plotting that accompany it, weigh down my heart. The stone of looming good-byes brings sobs of sadness, as I consider that every good-bye that is coming is coupled with an exciting new; and every happy anticipation is paired with something beloved left behind. The stones ahead of us, when my eyes are on them, are heavy and burdensome.
But what I often don’t see, and what the women on their way to the tomb didn’t see, is that Jesus has already removed the stones! As they were walking they were trying to figure out an answer to the problem they assumed was ahead of them. They didn’t know that Jesus was alive. They didn’t know that what they thought was a problem awaiting them was inconsequential in light of what was to come. Nor did they understand that the burdensome stone was no obstacle against the power of the risen Lord!
They were trying to figure out a solution to their problems, but Jesus had already given the solution. By the time they reached the place of their problem, the obstacle no longer existed. What awaited them at the empty tomb was not a heavy stone, like they expected, but instead, they received a commission:
The angel awaiting them said, “But go, tell His disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see Him, just as He told you.’” Mark does not record that they carried out this commission, but Matthew 28:8 and Luke 24:9-10 says that the women reported back the good news they’d seen and heard that morning.
How often am I stuck on a “problem” that isn’t mine to solve? How often do I stress and worry over what seems to me an impossibly heavy stone, only to find that Jesus has already removed it from my path? Can I…will I…move forward in my life, not focusing on the stones, but on the One who has removed and is removing them for me?
Jesus had a higher purpose for these women than t
o care for a dead boy. Their act of love for Him was rewarded by a first glimpse of His power over death! For although they knew an obstacle awaited them, they still prepared and went on their way that morning. The stone they expected to find did not hinder them from setting out to lovingly care for their dead teacher. So as they were on the way, loving Him with their early morning mission, they found an astounding Truth: Jesus, the teacher of Truth, had victory over death, and He wanted them to proclaim it!
This same one who moments ago they believed was lying behind an immovable stone had moved beyond death, removed their obstacle, and had a mission for them: tell the others, that they might praise Him!
So as I live and move and have my being in Jesus, I seek Him, that my eyes would be focused on the One who moves stones, and not on the stones themselves. I will prepare my family for our big transition from island house church planting to urban church planting, but I will expect He will replace my stress with joy and solution. I will prepare my homeschooled children for missionary school but I will not give into the fear that I have not prepared them well, and trust that He will protect them in their new environment. I will do diligence in regard to the needs of o
ur family and ministry as we make our transition, which includes a trip to the States to fundraise, but I will not try to plot where the funds will come from; but I will instead wait for His direction and wait for His provision. I will not dread the many good-byes that are coming up in the next year (first, those we will experience as we say good-bye to our brothers and sisters on the island; and next those expressed to family and friends as we leave the States again next year), but I will expect that Jesus will be there with every good-bye, to comfort and protect us through the hard times.
The Lord pursued me with these promises just at a time when I needed to hear them, and as a result my heart has been light this week. The obstacles of life are not there to burden us, but to bring praise to the One who will move them. And He does move them.
“Indeed, we had the sentence of death within ourselves so that we would not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead; who delivered us from so great a peril of death, and will deliver us, He on whom we have set our hope. And He will yet deliver us…so that that thanks may be given…” -2 Corinthians 1:9-11