Graveclothes

It’s almost Easter.  One of my favorite parts of the Easter narrative is the story about Lazarus.  He is one interesting character.  His claim to fame may just be that he died – twice.  Crazy, I know!  There is of course a back story here, and it can be found in the Bible, in John 11.  Go ahead and read it – it’s an amazing story with quite possibly one of the most amazing miracles that Jesus performed.  I always love this miracle for what it evokes in my own life and mind.  First, let me retell the story…

Lazarus, a friend of Jesus, who lives with his sisters Mary and Martha, is sick.  His sisters send word to Jesus that Lazarus is sick and at death's door.  While the message is still in transit to reach Jesus who is staying a day’s travel away, (remember no email, cell phones, or carrier pigeons) Lazarus dies.  His family is in mourning.  They readied his body for burial by wrapping him in graveclothes, and they placed him in a tomb shortly after his death.  Jesus gets the message that Lazarus is sick, and he stays where he is for two more days and then makes the day long journey to visit Lazarus and his sisters.  When Jesus arrives, four days have passed between the death of Lazarus and Jesus’ arrival.  Mary and Martha are distraught, and Jesus weeps.  Then he visits the tomb.  While there, Jesus tells them to open Lazarus’ tomb.  WHAT?!  Martha says, "Hey, he’s been dead for four days.  Seriously, Jesus.  If we open it, there is going to be a stench of all stenches..."  But they open it up, and Jesus calls, "Lazarus, get out here!"  And HE DOES!  Lazarus stumbles out of the tomb, all wrapped up in his graveclothes.  Jesus commands, "Unwrap him and let him go!"  And I’m sure there was much rejoicing as Lazarus is reunited with his sisters in life! 

I love this story, because can I envision myself as Lazarus and in my mind the graveclothes that bind him, also bind me.  There were graveclothes that bound me in spiritual death and destruction before salvation.  Even after Jesus had called me from the tomb in a life-changing moment of salvation, "Alayna, get out here!!", I still was bound up in the graveclothes just like Lazarus.  Thankfully Jesus said, "Unwrap her and let her go!"  And with that, Jesus commanded that I be set me free from the death and destruction that bound me.  Unwrapping the graveclothes in my own life was a process that took time, as Jesus helped me to grow and change in Him.  

Have you ever felt like you had graveclothes on you?    Have you been tangled up in darkness and death?  Maybe you weren’t in danger of physical death, but you felt as though your life was encased in darkness, a heaviness that you couldn't explain.  Like Eeyore with his cloud is your life and the darkness.  Maybe it is activities that you were, or are, caught up in.  Things that lead to physical and spiritual destruction and death: drugs, drinking, sexual escapades, eating disorders, the occult, cutting, and more...  Activities that perhaps at one time you seemed to control, but now they seem to have a life of their own.  There is a dark heaviness that is in your life, breathing down your neck, threatening a hostile takeover and binding you in death and destruction.

Maybe you have no clue what I am talking about, because you’ve lived the life free from outwardly dark activities.  Maybe for you, the destructive behavior is more subtle: perfectionism, pride, the need to be right, the need to be thin, the desire for perfect children, the need to be liked and so on.   Things that even seemed like a good idea at the time, but have since turned into pursuits that seem to control you and bind you.  The New Year's resolution to lose five pounds that has turned into something that decides what you eat (nothing), where you spend your time (the gym), and what you think about (food or the lack thereof).  


Do you have graveclothes in your life that hold you in darkness, death, and control your life?  The truth is that when we trust in Jesus for our salvation, we have crossed over from death to life (John 5:24), and we are free from spiritual death.  But sometimes our lives still seem to be wrapped up in the graveclothes, which need to be taken off.  Thankfully, Jesus commands “Unbind her, and let her go!”  He proclaims freedom for the captives and the oppressed (Luke 4:18) and says that we are a new creation in Him (2 Corinthians 5:17).  As we grow in Him, learn His truths found in the bible, and participate in relationships and community, we are transformed and the graveclothes are unbound.  Thank You, Jesus!  

What are the graveclothes in your life?  What binds you up in death?  What occupies your mind?  Is it the things of Christ or is it anything but?  What do you spend your time on?  Is it things with eternal value or things to distract you from God?  Identify the things that bind you up, and keep you from Christ.  Confess them to God and ask for His help and freedom from the graveclothes.    

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