I recall Christmas days from my youth...back when I thought the biggest package contained the best gift. The rationale most kids have - the more of whatever it is in the box the better. I've progressed and now understand the truth in the statement - great things come in little packages!
So why then was I surprised when God used a short verse to bring me a big message? I'm currently participating in Wendy Blight's online study titled, "Quiet my Anxious Heart" and this week we've focused on the story of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. The other morning I read John 11 out loud to the kids and then they decided to act the story out, which was fun!
As the day came to a close I had plans to dig into our homework for the week, but life on the farm and my role as Mom changed that. Waiting was a topic Wendy had brought up and now I realize God was asking me to do just that. At the time I didn't make that connection, but instead just felt the frustration that comes with things not going as I planned.
So I went to bed and though the study questions weren't in front of me, the story was still on my mind. I sensed God had something to say, so I asked, "Lord what message do you have for me in this story?" I'm not sure what I expected, but I know it wasn't what I heard - "Jesus wept." (John 11:35)
Honestly I was surprised and even a bit disappointed. This, the shortest verse in the Bible, is what God had for me? Why? It was as if the Spirit heard my unspoken question and the thoughts continued, ”Jill, Jesus cried, He showed emotion and God used it.”
It didn't take long for me to understand why that was His message for me, the girl who showed little to no emotion all thru school. The young woman who struggled with depression, kept her feelings silent and tears hidden for years. The Mom in her 30's who still has a hard time shedding tears in front of friends, sharing from the heart with passion and expressing joy for what God has done.
As this lesson unfolded in the dark of the night, I did what Jesus did, I wept. First of all, I was in awe of how God worked...I'd went to bed frustrated thinking I had to "wait" to hear from God, but He was showing me He had a purpose for the wait! There was a message He needed me to receive and a truth I needed to remember - He's always ready to speak, I just need to listen.
God knows I have a heart to follow Christ and He used these words, two simple words, to teach me how to be like Him. With this short statement I'm reminded that it's OK to cry, Jesus did and God used His tears. Jesus' tears showed his love for Lazarus and I believe for Mary and Martha too. And friend, God can use our tears as well.
I've always struggled to verbally thank friends who've poured into my life because I fear shedding a tear. A few years back I'd found the perfect gift (the only ones I really enjoy giving) for a friend, so I wrote a little note, handed it to her and didn't say a word.
She read the card and started to do what I was trying to avoid; I said to her, "I'm sorry for making you cry." Her response? "It's OK, I cry all the time. It's good." At the time those words made no sense, but I do remember her actions touching my heart. I was beginning to realize sometimes we say more when we say nothing at all.
As I continue to walk in faith, God keeps drawing me closer and is making my heart tender. I pray He makes me more like Jesus. A man who did much, a Savior who was strong and a friend who wept.
Today may I encourage you (and especially myself) to be real, share from the heart and not be afraid of the emotion God gave us to express.
And to you my blog reading friend, I'd like to say "Thank you!" I appreciate the time you take to read the thoughts God puts on my heart and the comments you leave to share the ones He gives to you as well!