One of the books I was reading, or rather listening to, on my long drive out to Pot Mountain was Richard’s Rohr’s, Immortal Diamond. In it he discusses the natures of our True self and False self, and the journey of discovering the Immortal Diamond that is our True self.
At one point he describes us as intentional, unique expressions of the Divine bringing glory to the Divine specifically by being our True selves.
I thought of an Easter egg.
The shell is like our False self, our outward identity, but the thing is what’s inside the shell. The whole thing is an egg, but the essence of it is the chick inside. The shell is what we know it by, but that’s the part that must crack and be removed in order for the essence to be revealed.
But then life happens like a pot of boiling water and we dry up inside, so we paint ourselves up like Easter eggs to give us a new identity and meaning.
Our False self is not evil in and of itself. It’s actually quite purposeful, and an intentional part of our design. But we were never meant to stay in it. We were meant to hatch, but we boiled instead. So we hide away in our painted shells creating identities out of ethnicities and creeds and paychecks. It’s this painted-shell False self that becomes destructive. Can we call that the Ego, just to give it a name?
Then Jesus comes along and says, “I can bring you to life. Come and die with me. Crack your shell and peel it free.” And some of us do, believing still that our only destiny is as a deviled egg. The miracle is that when we die with Christ we are born again as a living bird!
Right? That’s the promise, isn’t it?
Or do you stand like Martha before the tomb of everything you once believed in, finding only the strength to say, “Sure, Lord. Maybe there is hope in the ever-coming last day, but if only you had been here today….”
This is where the rubber meets the road for me. Right here in John eleven, because this is where Jesus really lays his promise down.
Mary and Martha are friends of Jesus. He loves them. Yet when they call upon him, he tells them that their brother is not going to die, then intentionally waits for it to happen. He leaves them with nothing but a broken promise with which to face their brother’s death.
Then he shows up and tells Martha that Lazarus will rise again.
Truth be told, I’m quite impressed with her ability to continue trusting Jesus. Perhaps it shows us how deep their friendship truly was, or how deep here pain. “Even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask.”
Have you been there, too? On the other side of some lost hope, trying to put the pieces together in a way that will give you comfort. Maybe you misunderstood what Jesus meant. Maybe you didn’t do something right, so he rescinded his promise. Maybe you didn’t believe enough, or didn’t believe the right thing.
Either way, what you understood to be the truth now isn’t, and you don’t know where to go from here because you don’t know what you can trust anymore.
Then Jesus names the impossible. “He will rise again.”
But You’re not even sure you want it anymore. After all, it failed the first time, and you really don’t want to risk going through that loss again. Why can’t Jesus just make things right now? Why can’t he just take away the pain and give me an answer? Just explain why it has to be this way?
Better yet, why couldn’t he just be there when I needed him, like he promised he would be?
But I can’t face this loss and his broken promise at the same time, so I’ll accept this loss since it’s real right now and I’ll just leave my crumbling faith alone. “Sure Lord, he’ll rise again in the last day with everyone else.”
But that’s not enough for Jesus.
“I am the resurrection and the life,” he says. “Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?”
“I believe you can, Lord, I’m just not sure that you will.”
“Remove the stone.”
This is where Jesus’ promise of resurrection life becomes a promise for us today and not just an elusive, future hope for the holy elite.
Either our True selves are going to walk out of that grave, or not. Either Jesus is our resurrection life today, or he is a false hope.
We don’t need to know how he can do it. We don’t even have to believe that he can do it. We just need enough faith to move the stone.
What has Spirit let die in your life? Do you trust him to raise it up again? What stone needs to be removed in your life?