Friday, August 3, 2018

Changing Terminal Boundaries Into Mile-Markers

When I was a kid, I used to love to ride my bike up and down the block we lived on. Each year as I grew older, I was allowed to travel farther and farther away from our house in each direction. At first, I was only allowed to ride two doors down in either direction. That eventually expanded to as much of the street as was visible from our house (our street was curved). But by the time I got my driver's license those former boundaries were simply mile-markers along a much longer journey.

John chapter 11 tells a story that reminds us that our boundaries are simply mile-markers for God. Lazarus is sick and his sisters, Mary and Martha, send for Jesus so that Lazarus can be healed. But Jesus delays. From the beginning, Jesus' plan is to allow Lazarus to die so that he can demonstrate God's power over death itself.  So Jesus tells his disciples in 11:4, "Lazarus's sickness will not end in death." (NLT)

Now, I'm pretty sure Jesus' disciples assumed that Jesus meant to heal him so that Lazarus never died. For the disciples, like most of us, death was a boundary that couldn't be moved. Death was the end of the line, a place from which it was impossible to return. But Jesus wanted the disciples to understand that the boundaries we set for ourselves are only mile-markers for God. Death is not final. So he allowed Lazarus to die so that he could raise Lazarus from the dead and prove, once and for all, that no boundary limits our journey when God is involved.

What final boundaries have you been facing lately? Perhaps it is the death of a career or a relationship. Perhaps the death of a dream or a marriage. Perhaps you find yourself before a barrier which it seems impossible to cross and you feel your hopes fading to nothingness. Whatever barrier you may be facing today, God wants you to know that barrier is only  a mile-marker when you consider God in the equation. No death is final. No brick wall is impassible. No chasm unbridgeable. If you are willing to trust God, those boundaries can become nothing more than mile-markers along the way.

When you face those boundaries, you will probably experience pain and loss. You will probably feel like you've reached the end of the road. And it is to you that Jesus says, "I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying. Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never ever die. Do you believe this?" (John 11:25-27, NLT)

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