I would say that, most of the time, when I hear scripture read, or read it for myself, it feels like the wind to me. Something blowing by me. I recognize the elements that are in the wind, but it is something that is beyond me in terms of capturing it. Or even being part of it.
From time-to-time, some of it makes me wrench my neck around in an attempt to seize it. Some combination of words that are just that tantalizing as to make me want to scrutinize them.
Then there are those astounding times when I hear or read words that I have received in a vision. Sometimes the words are exactly the same. And a cathedral-sized bell rings inside me. It is a confirmation of accuracy. I know that my vision was from God. Those are, as I just wrote, astounding times.
But then there are the standing times. The times when words from the Bible make me stop. With my whole self. And just stare.
They are there. They mean something to me, personally. I wrap myself around them in recognition and gratitude.
Be still and know that I am God.
Sometimes when I hear or see those words I am humbled to my knees.
Sometimes those words feel to me as though they are the only words in the Bible.
And that I get to stand there and witness them.
Be still, Julia.
I know now in my long life that when I have managed those few moments of stillness, that in those moments I can move that mountain. I can reach out and touch that which is beyond the horizon.
No matter how many times those words come to me, I stand in awe and am fully present to them.
Then there are these words:
Those, too, are standing words for me.
Again, when those words are present to me, all the other words in the Bible fall away.
And at those times those words are present to me. And I am, in a way, alone with them.
Throughout the stories of Jesus, we see him having emotions. Anger, rage, even. Compassion. Impatience.
And most writers work so hard to put the words, Jesus wept, into one of those categories.
A category of ordinary emotion.
But I’ve never had that experience with those words.
Instead, I have the experience of recognizing them. And them recognizing me. Like a hand is stretched out from them into mine, and we shake.
I hear a, Hello, Julia, in them.
I feel as though I know them.
Not that I am in that moment in terms of emotion, but of experience. I recognize those tears.
Those tears of shock.
That no one else sees.
There is Jesus, a young man, who has known great success in his ministry. He sees a blind man, and God leads him through the healing.
Then he walks on and finds another success.
Interlaced with failure. When people turn on him, reject his healing ministry.
Or question him. Question where his authority to heal comes from.
But, then, in the next moment, a paralyzed man gets up and walks because Jesus was there to bring him to fullness of health.
Jesus knows, in a way, what lay before him with Lazarus. Though there is in him a sense that he has time to get to Lazarus before he dies.
That God wouldn’t have led him to be busy with other work and let Lazarus die.
Then the bell rings inside him. He is going to perform a miracle of bringing Lazarus back to life.
The young man has confidence in himself, in God. He is being led to this. That means he can do it.
But then he gets there finally. Martha and Mary spit at him for him letting Lazarus die.
And he goes, Whatever. It’s just another healing.
And there is the sight. The cave door.
Inside is Lazarus.
And, for me, two things happen inside Jesus.
The first is the recognition that he has to actually go inside that cave and bring Lazarus back to life.
He has to go inside that cave and bring Lazarus back to life.
And, like when he was praying in Gethsemane, his knees buckle.
He knew it was coming. But, in truth, he doesn’t know what it is that is coming.
It is what I call, That moment right before.
Right before God shows him the way.
It’s like standing on the edge of a precipice and feeling God at your back telling you to fly. Just jump. Just trust.
And you’ve never done it before.
And you don’t, in truth, trust.
That moment right before the jump.
That moment of sheer panic.
That moment of terror.
But there’s something else there in those two words for me.
Jesus not only has to go in and do something he’s never done before, which is scary enough on its own. But he also recognizes the scene. It may be the tomb of Lazarus, but, in that instant, it is also his tomb.
And he understands in that moment that he is being trained by this act.
He is being trained in resurrection.
And that not only is he going to use this new-found knowledge on Lazarus, but that gained knowledge is for his practice.
He has to learn this lesson in such a way that he has to, in his own future, apply the knowledge to himself.
After he is dead.
I have always felt that shock of recognition for Jesus to my bones.
This is Lazarus’s death. But it’s mine also. And what I learn here I have to take with me and use after my death.
After my own death.
And then Jesus wept.