Saturday, May 19, 2012

Lazarus: It's Not Over

Yes, I am on vacation...but I'm not on vacation from God, and so I thought I would write a blog about an occurrence in the Bible that always gets to me, and that I've been thinking about a lot the past two weeks:


Lazarus is possibly one of the most cut-and-dried stories in the Bible; however, it means something to me, and I will try to express why.

I don't like to quit. And I hate to give up. Of course, I do quit/give up from time to time...but there is a part of me that still holds on to hope, that believes: it's not over.

So when Jesus came, He found that he had already been in the tomb four days. - John 11:17

Lazarus is a great story was over. It was about as over as it could get. Four days dead and in the tomb! He gone! Jesus had healed tons of sick people (Mark 2:1-5). Jesus had raised people from the dead (Mark 5:41-43), though they were all recently dead. He had calmed seas (Mark 4:35-40), and He'd fed thousands of people with food that could probably only feed a table of four (Matthew 14:19-21). He'd done so many things, but He'd done them all in the moment when they were needed. He'd done all those things when He was present.

But then...Lazarus. Four days?

Lazarus is an awesome story because it reflects two different perspectives. I thought that it was two ways of looking at a situation, but really it's two ways of looking at Jesus. For the purposes of this blog we will call this: Martha's Way and Mary's Way. Caveat: This is just my take on their reactions, which are (of course) hard to read. I'd be interested to know your take.

Part One - "Hey ya'll...Jesus is coming."  John 11:20

Martha's Way: Martha therefore, when she heard that Jesus was coming, went to meet Him...
Mary's Way: ...but Mary stayed at the house.

Both women have lost their brother. Both women are in pain and grieving. But one has gone out to meet the Lord, either in spite or her grief or because of her grief. But she still has to see him. That is Martha's Way. The other withdraws from the Lord, either in spite of her grief or because of her grief, she can't bring herself to leave her place of weeping. I don't think this needs much explanation, because if you're a Christian--and even if you're not--you know what it's like to be unable to move. You know what it is like to be paralyzed by your emotional state. Sometimes to the point that you avoid the one thing/one person who could help you. 

Part Two -  Praise vs. Blame/Disappointment/Pain/Anguish. John 11: 21 - 26 and John 11: 32

Martha's Way:  

Martha then said to Jesus, “ Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died. Even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You.” Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha said to Him, “ I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” Jesus said to her, “ I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?” She said to Him, “Yes, Lord; I have believed that You are the Christ, the Son of God, even He who comes into the world.”

Mary's Way: 

Therefore, when Mary came where Jesus was, she saw Him, and fell at His feet, saying to Him, “ Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.”

This is where it gets real to me. I am so Mary. If I can muster up the strength to pray, it's only to alert God to what He could have done. "If only you had blessed me with that job (boo hoo hoo) ," "Lord, I prayed for 'XYZ' but this happened instead (boo hoo hoo)" And then I just fall out and cry. It's over.

But Martha. Man, this chick inspired me this morning. Because she acknowledges that Jesus could have done something ("if you had been here my brother wouldn't have died"), but she also acknowledges that He can still do something ("even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You."). And on top of that she acknowledges why she believes this...because she knows who He is ("even He who comes into the world). For Martha, it's NOT over, even though, she believes Lazarus to be a goner. When Jesus talks about resurrection, she's like "yeah, on the last day." And Jesus is like: no chick...right now! 

And that's another point. Even if my faith is strong enough to see me to "it's not over" it not usually strong enough to see me to an expectation of the miraculous--or to an expectation of complete deliverance--in the here and now. But that is what Jesus was offering, a right now deliverance in a time when it was rational for hope to be lost.

Of course, WITHOUT question, our main expectation is to be towards heaven, but the story of Lazarus inspires me to think like David: 

I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. Psalms 27:13  

It might be irrational to think so sometimes...but it's not over. 

My Trip to Bali - The Massages

Greetings from Bali!

I had meant to document my trip more frequently, but:
  1. I am pretty wiped out by the end of the day
  2. Internet connectivity is pretty spotty 

However, right now, I'm making time sitting in the lobby of our resort. Prior to coming on the trip, June and I had decided that we would have a spa treatment or massage every day. This was successful until yesterday when one of our "naps" turned into full-out sleep. In any case, before that, the streak was strong, so I will explain to you some of our spa experiences:

Massage 1
Location: Namaya Spa at the Royal Beach Seminyak Hotel
Massage Type: Traditional Balinese
Description: As the first massage, it had to set the standard. And it did! It was great, perfect pressure, perfect ambiance (Balinese music, smells of lotus/lavender, dark/air conditioned room). This was the first day of the trip, and it really started it off right.

Facial 1
Location: Spa Bali
Facial Type: Traditional Facial
Description: This was my first facial ever, so I didn't have any frame of reference. But June...she was displeased. We were in the same room, and I could hear her saying things like: "Less pressure", "too hard" to finally "'re hurting me." Of course, I, being the excellent friend that I am was laughing. For me, the facial was a decent experience. For appointment with pain.

Manicure 1
Location: Spa Bali
Facial Type: Regular mani/pedi
Description: They were doing a somewhat terrible job. I could hear June saying things like: "you don't have to push those back", "don't clip those," and finally..."you're hurting me." So we canceled the pedi. To top it all off, those manicures were ugly...however, their polish selection was abysmal. ABYSMAL. No Shanghai Shimmer? Shame.

Massage 2
Location: Private Wellness Spa, Seminyak

Massage Type: Tibetan "Singing Bowls"
Description: This was, by far, the dumbest massage ever. This massage incorporates the use of four bowls, of varying sizes which are strategically placed all over your body and hit (gong style) to send vibrations through your muscles. This is supposed to relieve tension and boost your immune system.

This was the first time June and I were separated for a treatment, so it was good to come back to each other and compare notes:

June: did you like it?
Me: That was super lame...
June: (laughing hysterically) YES! I knew I should have stopped him when he put the little bowls on my feet! "Bong!"

It was like nothing was happening! I couldn't feel anything and the bowls were right on my exposed back!  Also, that room was STIFLING hot. My nose got all stuffed up, and I was dying so I went to sleep. Eventually, someone said: "your massage finished" and I could breathe easy again (literally). Caveat: This place was NICE. I think that if I had just ordered a different massage things would have gone better. I take all the blame.

Facial 2/Pedicure 1
Location: AMO, Seminyak

Facial Type: "Oxygen" Facial/Basic pedi

Description: The pedicure requires no description. It was basic, it was good. The facial though. I felt like I was being abducted by aliens. As this was my second facial ever, I have to say I preferred the first. For this facial, they steamed me up, but then they did this "extraction" thing that was really painful, and then they used a long thin silver tube to shoot oxygen into my newly opened pores. And it made sucking, scary sounds. After this, they put an oxygen mask over my entire face and just hit me up with Oxygen. Think about this: extraction, silver tube shooting into my face, gas mask...alien abduction.

Massage 3
Location: Jari Menari, Seminyak
Massage Type: "Four-Hands Massage

Description: The four-hands massage utilizes two practitioners on one body. These two people are working in tandem to create a blissful massage experience that is supposed to be unmatched. Jari Menari is a different massage spa because it is staffed 100% by male masseurs. I have NO problem with this. ;)

We confirmed a couple of times with management that we wanted the four-hands massage (you have to do this because of the language barrier). So the massage is taking's going well. My calves had really been hurting from all the walking around, and this guy was really starting to knead my body in a way that had me thinking: "this is gonna be good." Then I hear June saying: "less pressure," "too strong," "you're hurting me." A few more minutes pass, and my massage is ascending to the heights of glorious when I hear June's small childlike voice say: "Excuse this the FOUR-HANDS massage" and it wasn't! By some twist of fate (a happy twist of fate) they had started us on the wrong massage, but after a brief talk, the two additional masseurs came in (so now we both had two) and got to work...

My glorious massage was gone. This felt like a violation. It's like a traded in an amazing massage for an assault. It was so weird having these two strangers groping all over you. It was not in tandem. It was not in sync. It was just hands everywhere...and the new guy had B.O. And for the first time I was found saying: "less pressure," "too strong," and then I squeaked out a tiny: "stoppp..." Tragedy, if you will. And after they finished up, we had our debrief:

June: What did you think?
Me: ...rape.

Clearly, it wasn't that bad. But it was bad. Avoid.

Well, that's it. We had 3 other massages (I think) beyond these, but they were all traditional Balinese and a relaxation massage. In one of them...a lizard jumped on me. There was weeping and gnashing of teeth, but that is tied to another story altogether.

Bali, land of spas.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Excuse Me Sir, Your Car is on Fire...

Today, as I was driving home from the mall, I saw something that totally freaked me out:

A person in legitimate danger.

I was driving straight, and the person to my right was in the turning lane and was driving straight as well up to his turnoff. I noticed some smoke coming from his car. No big. Smoke comes from cars all the time, it might not mean anything. But as we were driving forward I saw what I thought were sparks beneath his car...but he was too close for me to tell. And then, as he was completing his turn I could see that the underbelly of his car was on fire. Like there were legit orange flames beneath his car. I couldn't believe it. I was stunned, like "what do I do?!".  And in a moment, my chance to alert him to his situation was gone. He was outside my sphere of influence. If I beeped now, he wouldn't hear me. If I rolled down my window and screamed, it would be in the wind. The moment had simply passed, and so I prayed. I was in the car praying out loud that his car wouldn't explode (I'm not sure if that was a possibility or not...I'm no mechanic), I prayed that he was turning to pull over, because he noticed that his car was smoking. I was praying that he smelled something, and was about to stop. I prayed and I hoped. I hoped that my inaction wouldn't cost that man. And I was sad.

And then I thought: do I do this everyday?

"So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all men, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith" - Galatians 6:10

I'm sitting here wondering how many opportunities have I wasted? On both physical and spiritual planes. When this incident happened, and I found myself driving on, relaxing  back into my own life and my own business, I realized: this will be a blog. I had one, and then two thoughts* regarding this issue: 

Thought One: Christian Accountability 

"Christian Accountability" has been reduced to a catch phrase that means: I go to small group/bible study and when my life is hard...I share. But, but, but what about when your car is on FIRE? I have been in situations where I have had a reciprocal share relationship with someone who's "car was on fire", and I never said a word...and then they turned. And they were outside my sphere of influence and I was left wondering and praying. Later on, I just relaxed back into me and everything was OK. But that's not okay, I have to stop thinking: "it's none of my business your car is on fire." And I have to stop assuming "she knows her car is on fire." 

"Dear brothers and sisters, if another believer is overcome by some sin, you who are godly should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path. And be careful not to fall into the same temptation yourself." - Galatians 6:1

I have qualms about doing this...for the aforementioned reasons (i.e. not my biz and they know right/wrong). What I'm concerned about is the susceptibility that Paul is talking about in the second sentence: and be careful not to fall into the same temptation. We're the sin our brother/sister suffers from, and to other sins that we are currently suffering from. And so we feel like it's best to be silent. But it's best to speak up, while it is still today: 

"But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness."- Hebrews 3:13

In closing, if you know me, please tell me if my car is on fire. I would consider it a kindness. 

"Let a righteous man strike me—that is a kindness; let him rebuke me —that is oil on my head. My head will not refuse it..." Psalms 141:5

*The second thought is part 2.