Girlfriends in God - Nov. 20, 2008

November 20, 2008 
Shattered Dreams (Part 2) 
Sharon Jaynes

Today’s Truth 
“I am the resurrection and the life.  He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.” (John 11:15 NIV)

Friend to Friend 
In the New Testament, we find a story about two sisters whose dreams were shattered by a death in the family.  Jesus received word that one of His best friends, Lazarus, was sick. In reality, by the time the messenger had made the one day journey to inform Jesus about Lazarus’ illness, he had already died. Jesus didn’t leave right away, but tarried two days before making the journey to Bethany.  When Jesus arrived, Lazarus had been in the tomb for four days.  His death shook the entire village and many Jews from surrounding cities went to mourn their loss.  For these two women, their dreams for the future were bleak – no husband, no children, no father, and now, no brother to take care of them.

When Martha heard Jesus was coming, her hopes soared and she ran to meet Him.

“Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died” (John 11:12).  Can you relate to Martha?  Have you ever felt, Lord, if you had been here, this would not have happened to me. Where were you? Where are you now?

Then it is as if she thought better of the words that had escaped her lips and said, “But I know that even now, God will give you whatever you ask.”

Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”

Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life.  He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.  Do you believe this?”

“Yes, Lord,” she told him, “I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who has to come into the world.”

Martha went back to her home and told Mary that Jesus was on the way.  Like Martha, Mary ran to meet him and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” Do you see a pattern? Once again – If you had been here this would not have happened to me.  Where were you?

Do you think God hurts when we hurt?  Oh yes, dear sisters, God hurts.  Jesus wept when he saw the pain of those around him.  He wept for the two sisters and I suspect He wept for a people who did not understand the power of God.

After four days, Lazarus’ body would have already begun to decay.  Make no mistake about it: God was about to do something so incredible, no one would refute His power.

Jesus ordered the stone rolled away from the mouth of the cave which served as Lazarus’ tomb.  Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?’

They took away the stone.  Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me.  I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.”

When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!”

And he did!

Jesus resurrected Mary and Martha’s dream.

Those of us who have lost a loved one may be thinking….yeah, but God didn’t bring my brother back.  God didn’t save my child.  God didn’t resurrect my dead marriage and if you read yesterday’s devotion, God didn’t bring Will back to life. (If you didn’t see yesterday’s devotion, I encourage you to go back and read part one of this series.)

Let’s go back to Will for a moment. Did resurrection power take place after Will’s death? His mother would say a resounding “yes.”

Luanne shared with me that just days before Will’s final football game he had said, “Mom, I’ll be glad when this is all over. Now that I’m older, I see just how unimportant all this sports stuff is.”

As Lou Ann knelt beside her boy on that football field, she begged him to keep breathing.  But then, as she felt him take his last breath, his words echoed in her heart,”I’ll be glad when this is all over.”

“It’s all over, son,” Luanne whispered.  “Go on home.”

At Will’s funeral a few days after his death, Luanne stood and shared the gospel message about the Jesus Will loved so much.  What was the result? Thirty people attending the service committed their lives to Christ or renewed their passion for serving Him. 

“Mrs. Johnson, I gave my life to Christ today!”

“Luanne I haven’t been following Jesus like I should. I recommitted my life to Him today and I’m going to get serious about my relationship with Him.”

“Luanne, our family was in a shambles and I was thinking about leaving my husband.  After today, I have decided to make our marriage work.  I see how important family is.”

“I have been putting my family on the back burner and letting everything and anything come before them.  After today, I’m putting my family second only to God.”

The Johnson family continues to minister all across the state about the power of Jesus Christ that sustains us when our dreams are shattered.  Because of Will’s death, hundreds have come to Christ, many family relationships have been restored, and churches have torn down denominational walls as the Presbyterians, Methodists, Baptists and Pentecostals in the tiny little town have made a historical move to worship together.  Being from a small North Carolina town myself, believe me - that is a miracle.

The Bible says that before we know Jesus Christ, we are dead in our transgressions.  We inherited a dead spirit from our father Adam.  However, when we accept Jesus Christ as our Savior, God gives us a new heart and a new spirit that is fully alive. This is resurrection power at its best. 

Why did God allow Lazarus to die? He allowed it so His Son could be glorified through it (John 11:4). Why did God allow His own Son to die on the cross? To bring salvation to all who believe?  I suspect that is the same for Luanne and Bob’s son as well.

Let’s Pray 
Dear Lord, there are some aspects of my life that have not turned out like I thought they would.  There are shattered dreams and many things I do not understand.  However, I do know this. You are a loving God and nothing happens to me that You cannot use for Your glory.  Help me to be open to see the good in the circumstances that seem at times to be so hard.  I choose to believe that You can redeem every situation in my life and use it for good.

In Jesus’ name, Amen

Now It’s Your Turn 
Is there something that you have been praying about and perhaps you feel that God is “late?”

What can we learn about God’s timetable from today’s devotion?

In today’s devotion, I quoted Jesus as saying, “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?”  Could it be that Jesus is saying those same words to you today?

Would you be willing to pray that God would show you the dreams He has for you? 

Would you be willing to give up your unfulfilled dreams and reach forward to what lies ahead?

Read the following verse and ponder what God wants you to leave behind and what He is calling you to reach toward. “But one thing I d Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead” (Philippians 3:13b NIV). 

More from the Girlfriends 
Shattered dreams are a part of life, but God has big plans for each of us.  Can you risk the hope that God still has dreams for your life?  That He hasn’t forgotten you.  Place your hand firmly in His – then take a deep breath and begin the exciting journey to a place you thought you’d never find:  the dream God planned for you all along.  You’ll find all this and more in Sharon’s book, Dreams of a Woman-God’s Plan for Fulfilling Your Dreams. 

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Originally published Thursday, 20 November 2008.