John 11:38-57 (ESV)
Then Jesus, deeply moved again, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay against it. 39 Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, “Lord, by this time there will be an odor, for he has been dead four days.” 40 Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?” 41 So they took away the stone. And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. 42 I knew that you always hear me, but I said this on account of the people standing around, that they may believe that you sent me.” 43 When he had said these things, he cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out.” 44 The man who had died came out, his hands and feet bound with linen strips, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.” 45 Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what he did, believed in him, 46 but some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done. 47 So the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered the Council and said, “What are we to do? For this man performs many signs. 48 If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.” 49 But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all. 50 Nor do you understand that it is better for you that one man should die for the people, not that the whole nation should perish.” 51 He did not say this of his own accord, but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation, 52 and not for the nation only, but also to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad. 53 So from that day on they made plans to put him to death. 54 Jesus therefore no longer walked openly among the Jews, but went from there to the region near the wilderness, to a town called Ephraim, and there he stayed with the disciples. 55 Now the Passover of the Jews was at hand, and many went up from the country to Jerusalem before the Passover to purify themselves. 56 They were looking for Jesus and saying to one another as they stood in the temple, “What do you think? That he will not come to the feast at all?” 57 Now the chief priests and the Pharisees had given orders that if anyone knew where he was, he should let them know, so that they might arrest him.
When I was a boy I would often daydream. Let me confess, I was (a may still be) a habitual daydreamer. One of my favourites was about an underground hide out that I would build in my back yard. Within this hideout were a large tv (we didn’t have flat screens then), an Atari 2600 with all the games, a small kitchen (I liked to cook even back then) and a super couch to rest on while I played games. The best thing about the hide out was the robot that looked exactly like me that I could control from a computer (probably Tandy brand) the eyes had cameras so I could see what it saw and could control all the movements. My dream was to send it to school in my place so I could stay in the hideout. The crazy thing is I would have to be engaged the whole time on the control computer while it was at school. So I would be doing all the work, all the interaction, all the learning but from behind the robots eyes. I guess I really liked staying in my pyjamas or perhaps something deeper going on there. I swear I really do like people and being with them.
We all have a version of an alternative universe that sounds more acceptable to us than the one we are living in. We can live in the “If” world. “If this happened” “If I had” “If she would have” “If I could just” “If they were still” It springs from our hearts because we long for comfort, security, control or surety. Our ideal life looks just a little off or completely different than the life we are living. This desire for the alternative universe can be a great motivator for us to pursue growth and accomplish great things. But when it is not tempered by God it can lead to destruction. It is ok for us to dream, there is something that God has placed in our hearts that provides it. It is when these dreams push us to distrust of God and His plan that sin enters in and begins to destroy. It is when we begin to believe that God has messed up somehow in our lives and we need to find a way around His screw up that our hearts move from worship, rest and trust toward passive antagonism, doubt and struggle.
Our current lives are not easy even though some of us do have it pretty nice. We are in the “in-between” when the fallen-ness of this world comes crashing down on us. “He did not say this of his own accord, but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation, and not for the nation only, but also to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad.” The alternative universe for the Jewish leaders was one without Jesus and they begin to plan it but even in that plan God is present. Caiaphas cast a vision of what is to come, the death of one man, this Jesus, to save the nation and all the while God is writing the Truth; the death of one man, Jesus Christ, to save the Children of God. Caiaphas believed he need to save his nation and God was moving in reality to create a People of His Own.
Father God, open our eyes to see your reality; the work you are doing and have accomplished in our lives and in the world. Help us to submit all of our desires to you. Let us bring our dreams to your throne and lay them down. Take our alternative universes and purify them, extract what is your Truth and burn away what is not. Please give us comfort through your Spirit because our pain is real and our hurt is exhausting. We need your mercy and gentle touch to assure us that you have us in your hands. We are broken and being restored. We are complete in Christ right now but see through the glass dimly. Please pour your assurance over us. Amen
Over the next week when an “if” statement moves into your hear ask the Spirit to help you quickly take it to the feet of God. Find someone you know is on the journey with God to pray with you about your “if” statement. Ask them to look at it with you seeking to know how God is working in the current place you are that has invited the “if” statement. Ask them to help you trust the Father.