He tells us: “Come out!”

lazarus“Before the sealed tomb of his friend Lazarus, Jesus “cried with a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come out.’ The dead man came out, his hands and feet bound with bandages, and his face wrapped with a cloth” (11:43-44). This commanding cry is addressed to every man, because we are all marked for death, all of us; it is the voice of he who is the Lord of life and desires that all “have it in abundance” (John 10:10). Christ has not resigned himself to the tombs that we have created with our choices of evil and death, with our mistakes, with our sins. He does not resign himself to this! He invites us, he almost commands us, to come out of the tombs in which our sins have buried us. He insistently calls us out of the darkness of the prison in which we have shut ourselves, contenting ourselves with a false, egoistic and mediocre life. “Come out!” he tells us, “Come out!” It is a beautiful invitation to true freedom, to let ourselves be seized by these words of Jesus that he repeats to each one of us today. It is an invitation to remove the “burial shroud,” the burial shroud of pride. Pride makes us slaves, slaves to ourselves, slaves of many idols, of many things. Our resurrection begins here: when we decide to obey this command of Jesus, going out into the light, into life; when the masks fall from our face – often we are masked by sin, the masks must fall! – and we rediscover the courage of our true face, created in the image and likeness of God.” (Pope Francis)

The answer to many prayers

I was doing some study on Psalm 5 this morning and came across this comment by Amy Carmichael on verse 3:

“’And will look up’, will keep watch, like Habakkuk on his watch-tower.  Have you ever found that your Father has answered a forgotten prayer?  I have, and I always feel so ashamed; it is so rude to forget.  A ‘Prayer-and-Answer Notebook’ helps one to remember.  It is evidence, which even the devil cannot dispute, of traffic with Heaven.  It kindles love; ‘I love the Lord because He hath heard’ (Ps 116.1).  How often we have had cause to say that.  My first note-book turned up among some old papers lately.  To read the notes was like finding sprays of verbena between the leaves of a book; you know how astonishingly fragrant they can be.  There was one little sentence that belonged to a rainy Sunday morning when I was, I suppose, about ten, so that leaf was about sixty years old, but it might have been only just picked, for as I read the words I remembered every detail of that prayer and that answer.

“If any of you keep such a book do not forget that the answer to many prayers is ‘Wait’, or sometimes, ‘No, not that, but something else, which, when you see Me, you will know was a far better thing.’”

The other side

Thinking today about Corrie ten Boom’s famous quote about embroidery–how we see one side, but God the other:

“Although the threads of my life have often seemed knotted, I know, by faith, that on the other side of the embroidery there is a crown.” – (Corrie Ten Boom in My Heart Sings)

If you would like to see the actual embroidery she was referring to, you can go here.

“God was in the whole thing.”

Watch the honest and faith-filled sharing of the wives of the five missionaries who were killed by the Aucas in 1956:  Women of Faith.

And here’s the story:

Five Missionaries Speared To Death In Jungle

Many people thought it was a tragic waste of a life when Jim Elliot and the other four missionaries died trying to contact the unreached Aucas.

Yet, how many Christians would risk their life for an opportunity to share the gospel? Jim Elliot, a young modern martyr, gave what he could not keep and gained what he could not lose.

A ‘missions’ statistic that profoundly challenged Jim was, “There is one Christian worker for every 50,000 people in foreign lands, while there is one to every 500 in the United States.” Early in 1952, Jim Elliot sailed for Ecuador. The plan was to locate in an old oil station that was abandoned because it was considered too dangerous for oil personnel. It was close to the Auca tribe and had a small airstrip. In February 1953, Jim and Elisabeth met in Quito and then on October 8, 1953 they were married. Their daughter, Valerie, was born two years later. Jim and Elisabeth worked together in translating the New Testament into the Quechua Indian language at the new mission station. The Aucas were a violent and murderous tribe and had never had any contact with the outside world. Jim wanted to bring the gospel there so he started a plan which was called Operation Auca. Besides him and his wife, his team consisted of five more missionary couples.

‘NOT A LONG LIFE, BUT A FULL ONE’

The men discovered the first Auca huts with the help of a missionary jungle pilot, Nate Saint. The first attempt to contact them was by airplane. They would fly around the camp shouting friendship words in the Auca language through a loud speaker and dropping down gifts in a basket. Encouraged by this progress, after three to four months of gift dropping, they decided to make a base on the Curray River, ‘Palm Beach’. After they had set up shelter they eventually made contact with the Aucas. After a little persuasion, they were able to convince some to come into their camp. Encouraged by this visit, the men felt that it was time to go in and try to minister to them.

One morning, after numerous songs of praise and considerable prayer, the men radioed their wives saying that they were going to go into the village and would radio them again later. ‘Operation Auca’ was under way. The next day, a group of twenty or thirty Aucas went to Palm Beach. “Guys, the Aucas are coming!” As soon as the others heard that, they flew into action straightening up their camp. Little did these five men know that this would be their last few hours of life. The last radio contact they made was Jim calling his wife saying, “We’ll call you back in three hours.” Jim Elliot’s body was found down stream with three others. Their bodies had been brutally pierced with spears and hacked by machetes.

After Jim’s death, Elisabeth, her daughter and another of the missionaries sister, Rachel, moved to work with the Auca Indians. The love of Christ shown through their forgiveness allowed them to have amazing success with the once murderous Indians. Jim’s life was not a waste, in fact, God used his death to bring life through salvation to many Aucas and encouragement and inspiration to thousands of believers worldwide.

(http://www.historymakers.info/inspirational-christians/jim-elliot.html)

Walking and loving in darkness

Catherine Doherty writes about the love that finds us in the darkness:

Through faith we are able to turn our faces to God and meet his gaze.  Each day becomes more and more luminous.  The veil between God and man becomes less and less until it seems as if we can almost reach out and touch God.

Faith is a pulsating thing; a light, a sun that nothing can dim if it exists in the hearts of men.  That’s why it’s so beautiful.  God gives it to me saying, “I love you.  Do you love me back?  Come and follow me in the darkness.  I want to know if you are ready to go into the things that you do not see yet, on faith alone.”

Then you look at God, or at what you think is God in your mind, and you say, “Look, this is fine, but you’re inviting me to what?  An emptiness?  A nothingness?  There is nothing to see.  I cannot touch you.  I cannot feel you.”  Then God goes on to say, “I invite you to a relationship of love: your love of me, my love of you.”  Yes, God comes to us as an invitation to love. . . .

At this moment love surges in our heart like a tremendous sea that takes us in and lays us in the arms of God whom we haven’t seen but in whom we believe.  Across the waves we hear, “Blessed are they who have not seen and yet believe” (John 20.29).  Now I walk in the darkness of faith and I see.  I see more clearly than is possible with my fleshly eyes.

(Catherine Doherty, Re-entry into Faith: “Courage–be not afraid!”)

A paradoxical path

Benedict XVI is giving a series of teachings on the Creed.  Here is a teaser from his first one:

Faith leads Abraham to tread a paradoxical path. He will be blessed, but without the visible signs of blessing: he receives the promise to become a great nation, but with a life marked by the barrenness of his wife Sarah; he is brought to a new homeland but he will have to live there as a foreigner, and the only possession of the land that will be granted him will be that of a plot to bury Sarah (cf. Gen23:1-20). Abraham was blessed because, in faith, he knows how to discern the divine blessing by going beyond appearances, trusting in God’s presence even when his ways seem mysterious to him.

A lot to think about there.  If you’d like to read his whole address, you can go here.

“An unparalyzed faith”

This is such an astounding story–a great one for the Year of Faith:

On July 3, Robert Shelby wanted to show one of his children how to avoid belly-flops when diving. When Shelby demonstrated at a neighbor’s pool, he slammed his head on the bottom.

He tried to swim. He couldn’t.

“None of my body is moving,” he said. “So, I go through my feet, my toes, my legs and knees, go through my arms. I’m trying every single part of my body that I thought might get me there, tried dog paddling, but I’m absolutely paralyzed. There’s nothing moving.”

He could hear his children playing, apparently oblivious to his plight. Holding his breath, he realized they might not notice until it was too late, and he would drown.

About 10 years earlier, Shelby had become a Christian. In addition to his full-time job in industrial sales, Shelby is a pastor at Trinity Baptist Church in Baton Rouge. Suspended between the surface and the bottom of the pool, Shelby pondered how to handle his last moments on Earth.

“I prayed just a moment about it, and what came to me was that (since) I praised God for the last 10 years of my life, I should praise him now,” Shelby said. “So, I began praising him for his grace, for saving me, sending his son, those type things, praising him for the privilege of raising up a family and ministering to people. I prayed that he would watch over my family and provide for them.”

As he prayed, Shelby blacked out. When he regained consciousness, his life was radically altered.

You can read the rest here: “An Unparalyzed Faith”

Faith’s beginning

A Sunday-poem by Fr. David May from Madonna House for the beginning of this Year of Faith:

Faith’s Beginning

by Fr. David May.

It was (and is) like this:
That tortuous, tortured place,
Fleeing, like a tremulous little bird,
Flitting between hiding places,
Creature of shadows
Never in full light,
Yet giving away its presence
In fluttering wings and piercing
Song of evening…

That closed and stone-hard place,
Impenetrable, hard as hawk’s eyes,
Gleaming, piercing summer’s noon
With cold, unyielding stare,
Hunter driven by hunger…

Cauldron of bitter schemes,
Witch’s brew angry and troubled,
Seething even in quiet,
Secretly boiling, overflowing
Pain of nothingness and loving it…

That place—my heart—embraced by You.
No word, no admonition,
No judgment, no mountain storm
Of lightning, wind, thunder,
Slide of rocks, mud, trees,
Not even a gentle breeze or whisper of air,
But only strength of stillness
Laying irrevocable claim,
As if mining for gold
Buried in black-night earth,
Seeing treasure where none is,
Digging with bloodied hands
Till the mask is cast off—

Awakening love, reaching out
Like a reed crushed then mended,
Believing in the One believing in me,
Creature from his hands.

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