Imagine a made-for-TV movie of your life – everything you’ve ever done, everything you’ve ever said, all the things you’ve never told another living soul. Imagine it’s there on the screen for everyone to watch. How would you feel about that?
Here’s the truth of the Gospel: God has seen your movie…and He loves you. Yet when God doesn’t show up like we expect and doesn’t answer our prayers in the way that we hope, we immediately turn the spotlight on ourselves and think, “What did I do wrong?”
John 11 tells the story of Lazarus, the brother of Mary and Martha and a friend of Jesus. Jesus and His disciples arrived at their home in Bethany four days after Lazarus died. Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if only you had been here, my brother would not have died” (v 21).
Some of you have gone through unbelievable losses. Some of you have been wounded. Some of you have been betrayed. Some of you have wept more tears than you have shared. You think nobody really gets the depth of your sorrow. But Jesus does.
In Psalm 56:8, David says, “You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.” Why would God do that? Why would Christ collect every tear? I think it’s because He wants us to know that He alone knows the weight of what we have carried. Even in the moments when you have felt most abandoned, you have never lived an unloved moment in your life. He sees you and He has caught all of your tears.
When our son was 10 years old, He asked me to make him a flask of hot chocolate. I said, “Sure. Are you going outside to play?”
“No,” he announced, “today I’m running away from home.”
I said, “Did Dad or I do something to hurt your feelings?”
He said, “No, Mom, it’s nothing like that. It’s just that it’s you and dad and the dogs here. Nothing big ever happens. If I don’t go now, I’ll never have stories to tell.”
I asked, “Where are you going to go?”
He said, “North!”
“What are you going to do for money?” I asked.
He said, “Don’t worry, Mom, I intend to return home on weekends.”
So I gave him a flask of hot chocolate and he put it in his backpack with his soccer ball, a book, and the dog’s blanket, and he headed out the back door.
“Traveling mercies,” I said. “Do stay in touch.” Then I ran upstairs to the balcony to watch where he was going. He wandered around the lake behind our house and settled down to pour himself some hot chocolate. I imagine he contemplated life in the North for a while, but soon he was headed back home. I ran back downstairs to meet him and later that night as I tucked him in bed, I asked about his great adventure.
“Tell me about your day. Did you have a good time?”
“I guess I did,” he said, “but I would have liked it better if my bag wasn’t so heavy.”
I thought about that for a long time. What would it look like if all of our “baggage” became visible? The disappointment, anger, frustration, abortion, affair – you name it. The stuff we drag through life. If you could see all of it, would you really want to carry it on your journey? Or would you like to take Christ up on His glorious offer: “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).
After living this blood-bought life and arriving home, it would be sad to have Christ ask if we enjoyed the journey and have to say, “I did, but I would have enjoyed it more if my bag wasn’t so heavy.”
When Christ reached Lazarus’ tomb and asked them to roll the stone away, what He actually said was, “Lazarus, it’s this way out.”
When we find ourselves in darkness, when we find ourselves disappointed, hurt, or confused, that’s what Christ says to us: it’s this way out.
Your history does not dictate your destiny.
You don’t need to carry your baggage another day. He offers a way out. We may not always understand His master plan, but we can always trust the Master.
REMEMBER: Your history does not dictate your destiny.