Years ago, I had a crazy dream. In the dream, I was carrying around a container full of gross stuff. I would take care of this container, show it to my friends. It went with me everywhere I went. Weird, huh? I knew the dream was significant and after praying about it, God showed me that I was hanging on to something hard in my life. It went with me all the time and I needed to let it go. I was tending to or taking care of this hard thing and I didn’t need to anymore.
This morning I was reminded of this dream as I was reading in Romans 8. “This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life.” (vs. 15, MSG).
To “tend” to something means to take care of, watch over, look after, to be a servant of, apply one’s attention to and move in the direction of. We all “tend” to things: our children, our home, our health. At Christmas we sing about shepherds tending to their flocks at night. Why in the world would we tend to a grave – a place of death? Why in the world would I tend to this container of gross, hard stuff? Why would we give care and concern to a dead, gross thing like a shepherd or a momma who tends to those they care for?
But don’t we all do that? We hang on to our hurt, our hard things. Things that God has asked us to let go of. We keep these hard things so close and sometimes we don’t even know ourselves without them.
I think of Lazarus in John 11. Lazarus is Jesus’ friend who has died and has been buried for 4 days. Jesus brings him back to life. VS 44 says, “and Lazarus came out, bound in grave clothes…Jesus told them ‘unwrap him and let him go!’” The MSG version says “Let him loose!”
Do you guys ever wonder if Lazarus went back to that stinky grave, crawled in and put back on those dirty, dead grave clothes? Do you think he wished he was still wrapped tight, bound by cloth, covered in death? Of course not! Then why friends, do we go back to our hard, dead places and hang out there when Christ says he has set us free? He said to Lazarus, “Come out” and he said to those around Lazarus, “let him go, let him loose!”
I believe He is saying the same thing to us!
What would happen if you really quit “tending” to the dead places, the hard things, and dark shadows in your life? Isaiah tells us He brings light to the darkness, rays of light, so his warriors can have joy! He wants to bring us back to life!
Romans 8:11 states “It stands to reason, doesn’t it, that if the alive-and-present God who raised Jesus from the dead moves into your life, he’ll do the same thing in you that he did in Jesus, bringing you alive to himself? When God lives and breathes in you (and he does, as surely as he did in Jesus), you are delivered from that dead life. With his Spirit living in you, your body will be as alive as Christ’s!”
VS 12-15 “So don’t you see that we don’t owe this old do-it-yourself life one red cent. There’s nothing in it for us, nothing at all. The best thing to do is give it a decent burial and get on with your new life. God’s Spirit beckons. There are things to do and places to go! It’s adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike “What’s next, Papa?” (MSG)
Friends, I’ve tended to my little container for way too long. I am ready to bury those hard, gross things, take off my grave clothes and go! Will you join me? What could happen if all of God’s friends did this?
What are you still tending to? Why are you tending to it? Does it bring you peace, comfort? Is it scary to let go, acknowledge those dark shadows?
Jesus is so kind. I can imagine him sitting with Lazarus, unwrapping those grave clothes even though they smelled so bad, then embracing his dear friend and watching him live again. He will do the same for you! He didn’t die for us so we could stay dead. He tells us to Go! He has let us loose!
“You’re off to Great Places! Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting, so…get on your way! – Dr. Seuss, Oh the Places You’ll Go!