When I married Adventure Boy, we greeted guests wearing black, then changed into white for the ceremony to symbolize our new beginning.
I’d been through a lot in the past 18 months: burying my husband who died of a heart attack, burying my mama who died of cancer, and burying his best friend who died in a plane crash.
For months and months, I’d felt trapped in grief, death clinging to me like wet clothes.
The Story of Lazarus
I wonder if that’s how Lazarus felt when he came shuffling out of the tomb. Are you familiar with the story in John 11?
A good friend of Jesus gets sick. By the time Jesus arrives in his village, Lazarus has been dead four days! After Jesus weeps with the mourners, he goes to the tomb and tells them to take away the stone covering the opening. There’s some debate, but they do it.
Then, Jesus looks up to heaven and thanks God for what’s to come. He calls in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face. (John 11:43-44)
Picture Lazarus coming out. He didn’t run out. Or come out jumping for joy. He didn’t even walk out. He scuffled out because he is still bound up in his grave clothes.
The grave clothes would have been several layers of linen, packed with aloe and embalming spices. After four days they would have been stiff and extremely confining.
Alive but still trapped in grave clothes
Lazarus is ALIVE, but he’s not experiencing life yet. He has a fresh start …BUT, he’s constricted by his putrid grave clothes.
That’s how some of us are today. We have new life in Christ, but we are still bound up in grave clothes. Bound by guilt. Fear. Shame. Regrets. Hatred. Bitterness. Jealousy. Lust. Addiction. Pride. Idolatry. Unforgiveness.
Grave clothes hold you back from experiencing all God’s good stuff, his miraculous stuff.
If you wear grave clothes long enough, you get used to their limitations. Pretty soon, they are your new normal. You don’t even try to get out of them anymore.
I meet so many women still wearing their grave clothes. I tell them, “Girl! Your past is paid for. It’s time to shed them and come into your future.”
Shuck those grave clothes!
In verse 44, after Lazarus emerged from the grave cave, Jesus says, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.” Lazarus couldn’t get free of his grave clothes without help. Maybe you need help, too. There is no shame is needing or asking for help. Seek support from a pastor or counselor or prayer partner. Asking for help means you are serious about your freedom!
Don’t be alive in Christ, but stuck in grave clothes. Shuck them off and adorn yourself with God’s love, joy, peace, freedom and hope.
Believe me when I say the same Jesus who raised Lazarus from the dead can resurrect your relationships, redeem your bad choices, recover your lost years, restore your joy and release freedom into your life.
Verse for today: Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV
Prayer: Thank you Lord for giving me a fresh start. I hang onto old habits and patterns too long. I know you offer so much better for me. Help me be brave, ask for help to get rid of the past and move into the future unencumbered. I love you, In Jesus Name I pray, amen.