“… In the happiest relationships there are surprises now and then, the occasional mystery and new discovery. Fascination remains in play, proof that as well as they know their mate, there is always more to learn” (Steagald, 106).
Scripture: John 11:38-45 (CEV)
Jesus was still terribly upset. So he went to the tomb, which was a cave with a stone rolled against the entrance. Then he told the people to roll the stone away. But Martha said, “Lord, you know that Lazarus has been dead four days, and there will be a bad smell.”
Jesus replied, “Didn’t I tell you that if you had faith, you would see the glory of God?”
After the stone had been rolled aside, Jesus looked up toward heaven and prayed, “Father, I thank you for answering my prayer. I know that you always answer my prayers. But I said this, so that the people here would believe that you sent me.”
When Jesus had finished praying, he shouted, “Lazarus, come out!” The man who had been dead came out. His hands and feet were wrapped with strips of burial cloth, and a cloth covered his face.
Jesus then told the people, “Untie him and let him go.”
Many of the people who had come to visit Mary saw the things that Jesus did, and they put their faith in him.
As a minister, the analogy of a life of faith as a marriage relationship is nothing new to me. We often think of the relationship of a pastor to congregation as one of a marriage. For others of us, though, the idea of the faith relationship being like a marriage may be new, or if we have experienced bad relationships, it may even be a bit uncomfortable. But it is like that, as our Lenten writer points out. And it is true that as we walk this path of faith, as we grow in our relationship with God, there are moments of surprise. There are moments when we learn something about our beloved God. There are moments when we learn something about ourselves through the eyes of our beloved. I think that maybe the longevity of our life of faith depends upon our willingness to invest in the relationship, much like the longevity of our human relationships depends on the same thing. The season of Lent, like many of the seasons of the church year, is a time set aside to meditate and focus on that relationship. It is a time to recognize what it is about our relationship with God, our relationship to Jesus, that surprises us, blesses us, and gives us life.