if you'd been here.

to tell you the truth, until a few months ago, i never read my bible. it always felt overwhelmingly intimidating, like a lengthy to-do list of all the things that need to be done but makes you feel like you want to take a nap instead. it was too much, too complicated, where do i even start. it's much easier to read books or go to church and listen to people talk about the bible than to actually read it myself.

the thing about my church, though, is that it challenges me in ways i didn't know a church could. and by church, i literally mean the group of people i interact with when i go to the place we meet. it's in the way they speak, in the way they act, in the way they live boldly and declare truths. they show me the type of person i want to be, not because they walk around quoting scripture all the time (they don't), but in the way it just overflows out of them.

so i started making time to read my bible, because you can't be that kind of person, you can't be overflowing with love and grace and truth, if you aren't filling yourself up with those things.

it's been a pretty slow process, mainly because if i'm not focused and it feels like i'm only reading to check an item off my to-do list, i stop. checking jesus off a to-do list like he's a task to be completed is not the type of relationship i want to have with him.

one day, i pushed myself to focus for one more chapter: john 11.

it's the story of lazarus, which i've heard many times, but never read myself. it's the story of the man jesus raised from the dead, and i've always heard it as simply as that. the details of the beginning parts are a bit fuzzy because i knew how it ended and had an attitude like it didn't matter what came before. i was unsympathetic, thinking, just wait–you don't even know what's coming.

but did you know jesus heard the news that lazarus was sick and he didn't immediately get up and go? did you know that by the time he arrived, lazarus had been dead for four days? FOUR DAYS. in the message version, both mary and martha have this reaction when they see jesus:

"master, if you'd been here, my brother wouldn't have died."

that part made me catch my breath: if you'd been here.

i feel that so much. maybe you do too. because sometimes it feels like he's not showing up, and it's a struggle to understand why. and then the thing we've been praying over dies. we bury it, and days pass. it hurts, and it feels disappointing.

if you'd been here, i wouldn't be in this situation.

we throw those words out like mary and martha did. like it's too late, like he must not have heard our pleas, like we don't even know what's coming.

here's the part i always missed: when the disciples didn't understand what he was doing, jesus said, "lazarus died. and i am glad for your sakes that i wasn't there. you're about to be given new grounds for believing. now let's go to him."

he waited intentionally, and that's confusing, but he waited because the miracle that comes next is ground breaking, and his glory will be undeniable to the people around you.

lately, i feel like i'm borderline terrified that everything i have (metaphorically) will die, and i'm throwing promises he's made back up at him like he needs reminding, like the day is coming where it'll be "too late."

but it's okay to let go. it's okay to let things die. it's okay to think, if you'd been here.

it's okay because it's intentional, not accidental. he's bigger than your situation and he knows what he's doing and he's never too late. even if it's been buried for four days, he can still raise it from the dead, and he doesn't need you to say anything more than if you'd been here, this wouldn't have happened. because, you're right.

but do you even know what's coming?

you're about to be given new grounds for believing.