Thursday, August 22, 2013

Posted by Erin Posted on 10:45 AM | 2 comments

To be Lazarus

When you are so sick your system starts to shut down and the doctors don't know what to do, you send for the only One who can do something. Sometimes, I've heard, He comes. He puts mud on your blind eyes and you see. He tells you to get up and walk and your lame legs strengthen. But sometimes, He doesn't get there fast enough. Sometimes, He comes too late to heal the sick. Your lungs collapse and you gasp for a last breath. Your heart unlearns how to beat. Your brain forgets that it is in charge of keeping your body functioning. And you die.

The tomb is dark. Cold. There is no life there. Everything that had once pulsed pink with rushing blood, turns yellow-grey and shrivels into the darkness. And decay sets in. They can wrap you in a thousand layers of grave clothes and leave bushels of herbs and spices at your side, but there is no undoing decay, no stopping the smell of the rotting flesh.

But then, sometimes, from some distant place, like in a dream, you hear your name being called. And your shriveled heart beats. Buh-Bump. And then it beats again. Buh-Bump. Your brain says to your eyes, "Open." To your body, "Get up." To your feet, "Walk." And you stumble toward a light and toward the sound of weeping mingled with the sound of breath caught up in astonished anticipation. You walk toward the voice that had called your name with such authority that all the rotting reversed and your skin found your muscles which found your bones and your brain remembered and your lungs found their form and took in the air again.

And your eyes burn from the sudden light and you lose your footing a time or two, but there are people now, holding you up, helping you find the ground that is safe to put your weight on. And it's hard to make out what they are saying because they are all speaking over you. Some are speaking in the tone of a nurse, to sit, rest, drink this, eat something. Some speak with the excitement of a parade, as though something miraculous has just occurred. And slowly, clarity comes. You can hear familiar voices, some that have scolded you in the past, rejoicing over you. Some who have ignored you, now speaking with tenderness. And you begin to feel the hot, humid air on your skin as these loving-ones unwrap you from the grave clothes. It is an meticulous task...this undoing of the layers meant to keep death in. But they don't abandon you. Though it's messy and they occasionally turn away to catch their breath, they unwrap your alive-again body down to the last binding cloth. And they help you learn to walk again. They wait patiently for your feet to find their strength and your eyes to adjust to light. 

And then you remember. The thick sound of bated breath. The shouts of celebration as you came closer. You remember how the tone of weeping changed from sorrow to sudden joy. And you realize, a miracle has in fact occurred. You had died. And then your name was called and now...Now you are alive. And you look around and find that those who had wept as you lay dying, and some who could not come until the day of mourning, had not left you, even in all the excitement, to untangle your own death-binding clothes, but carefully unwound it all to set you free to live. And you see the One who called your name. He smiles at you and you know. You know. He is never too late. 


I am Lazarus. A few years ago, I died. My faith...died. There was nothing left of it but a putrid shell where it once thrived. But then Jesus spoke my name. He said, "Erin, wake up!"  A faint beating in my chest could be felt.  And when I came out from the tomb, there was a family both familiar and foreign to welcome me. That family is Bayou City Fellowship and for the last 2 1/2 years, they have been tenderly unwrapping the lies that had bound up my dead faith. They untangled me with words of kindness, prayers of strength, shared tears, and lifted hands. They unbound me by rebuke, and by laughter, and by shared meals. And I love them for it.

Thank you. From the deepest part of my soul, thank you. 

Now, the Lord is calling me to a new place. A place I could not be more thrilled about going. On September 1st, I will be joining the youth staff at First Presbyterian Church of Kingwood. And I will be living out what I have always believed the Lord made me to do. I will walk with middle school and high school girls through life. I will pour into future leaders of worship. I will point young believers to the Kingdom work to which God has called His people. And I will speak words of kindness, prayers of strength. I will share in tears and lifted hands. I will rebuke, and laugh, and share meals. And I will love them.
photo credit: Amber Burger

But I will also deeply miss my family at Bayou City Fellowship. Oh, I will still be around, often I'm sure, but it will be different. My involvement and thus my relationship with my BCF family will change, as does everything eventually. It will be hard to not be a part of leading you all in worship. It will break my heart, though it fill me with joy, to watch from the sidelines as God continues to pour out His Spirit on you. But, I am so immeasurably grateful for these two and a half years. As Beth said at Rise earlier this month, "Church isn't about attendance. It's about attachment." And I am ever so attached to you all. To your children and your stories and your longings. To your Kingdom dreams, to your precious, precious hearts. So it will be hard to let go, even if it's just slightly. It should be hard. Whether now, or in ten years, I would want it to be hard. I pray that when God calls you out, you find it just as hard because you are just as attached. 

And know this, you are still my family. And whether I get to see you once a year, once a month, or by God's loving-kindness, every week, I will be continually thanking our Father for you. And I will be praying that He only continues to give you more of Himself in His blessedly perfect timing. Wait for Him.  

This I know, He is never too late. 



Anonymous said...

Congratulations!! I'm joining a church staff Monday as well. I can't wait to see how God uses you in the girls lives. Are you still going to stay in the same house?


Marissa Burt said...

Such a lovely post! This story of the dead-coming-to-life has been a profound image these past few months for me. I wrote about it several weeks ago and feel such a kinship with what you've written here:

It is so beautiful the way Jesus calls us forth into community and that we, as the church, are involved in each other's healing. Thank you for expressing this so beautifully!