I can't find them anywhere...I have searched everywhere but my big girl panties are no where to be found. Bottom drawer? Nope. Closet? Not there. Oh where oh where could they be?
Can you relate? That is how I have been feeling lately. You see, 2011 was one of the hardest years of my life. I have been stretched and pulled in more ways that I even knew possible. And then, just recently I have been facing the sickness and loss of my dad. In the final week of his life, things were pretty intense. You see, my dad hasn't spoken to me much in the last four years. Ever since my niece came to live in our home, and he found out that I am the person who broke our families "Code of silence," I have been on the outside looking in. Don't get me wrong, I have tried to reconcile the relationship. I asked my dad repeatedly to sit down with me and the pastor of his choosing, but he refused every time. I have prayed consistently for God to move so that we could work things out. So, when I got the call that he was in the hospital, I thought this might be our chance. I hoped beyond hope that he would wake up and hug me and tell me that he loved me. It was the perfect ending to a sad story....and I didn't mind telling God my plan!
However, as I sat and watched the life drain out of my dad, as I watched the ventilator pump each breath into his struggling lungs, my hope began to slip away. It was harder and harder to go down each day, to face the fact that we were going to have to say goodbye with this unresolved issue between us. And then came the critics, it was clear pretty quickly that my dad had been saying some unkind, and untruthful things about me. Some people were outright unkind. My sister and I chose to sit in a different waiting room to reduce the tension. I even had a gentlemen from my dad's church tell me, "I am glad you have to sit in a different waiting room, it is what you deserve." My heart was crushed and it was harder than ever to go down to the hospital. I knew in my head that I needed to "suck it up" but each day was harder and harder. And that is when it happen, I woke up and started to get prepared to go to the hospital but no matter how hard I looked, I could not find my big girl panties. All I really wanted to do was crawl back in bed, pull the covers over my head, and wait for it all to just go away. Truth be told, I didn't even want to look for my big girl panties any more. My heart was wounded, my soul was weary, and I was done.
Have you ever been there? What has life handed you that you cannot bear to face even one more day? This last few days, I have had the privilege of sitting under the teaching of Rhea Brisco and I want to share with you how God helped me find my big girl panties.
You are probably aware of the story of Lazarus' resurrection from the dead, but let's revisit it for a minute. The story can be read in John chapter 11. As we begin the story, we see that a messenger is sent to tell Jesus that Lazarus is sick. Let's pick up the story starting at verse 4:
4 When he heard this, Jesus said, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” 5 Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. 6 So when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days, 7 and then he said to his disciples, “Let us go back to Judea.”
A couple of things I want to point out here, 1- Jesus gave a promise that the end of the story was not death and 2- Jesus loved Mary. Martha, and Lazarus but he delayed 2 days before heading to attend to them.
However, imagine being the messenger as he returns to Bethany to deliver this message, "This sickness will not end in death" but he has to deliver it over the very dead body of Lazarus. The promise from Jesus did not seem to be true. Mary and Martha are brokenhearted, not only did Jesus (the man who healed perfect strangers) not come to heal their brother (whom he loved) but he hadn't even showed up to mourn his loss. These girls moved forward in their grief, they buried their brother and began the mourning process. But then Jesus shows up John says in verse 20, "When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him, but Mary stayed at home." I can't help but wonder if Mary was mad..."well now he shows up, well if he thinks I am running out to greet him he has another thing coming..." or if she just couldn't find her big girl panties. Martha talks with Jesus and tells him that if he had only come sooner Lazarus would not have died. And Jesus tries to explain that Lazarus will be resurrected, but Martha's reality doesn't allow her to make sense of what Jesus is saying. Thank goodness that Jesus is not limited by our reality!
The group moves on, and ends up outside the tomb of Lazarus. The crowd is gathering and criticism begins flying John 11 37 But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?”
Jesus doesn't even waiver...He has a job to do and He will not allow the critics to shake Him. He tells them to move the stone away. Rhea pointed out that Jesus was powerful enough to just have Lazarus walk right through the tomb, without moving the stone at all, but he wanted them to take action, to walk in obedience and to roll the stone away. The always practical Martha was quick to point out that it would stink if they rolled the stone away, after all, Lazarus had been dead for 4 days. She knew because she had put him there, and when she did she buried all hope of a healing, and all belief in the promise from Jesus that "This sickness will not end in death." Martha wanted to believe but she just couldn't bring herself to do it, no big girl panties for her.
The end of the story is a good one, Lazarus does come strolling out of the tomb, he is covered in grave cloth but he is not stinky, he is alive! And the hope that Martha and Mary had buried four days earlier, it has been resurrected!
Isn't that just like Jesus? He heard their cries, he kept His promises, all in God's perfect time and in God's perfect way. Mary and Martha had told God their plan but Proverbs 19:21 says, "Many are the plans in a person’s heart,but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails." So, if you are still struggling to find your big girl panties, trust that the God who formed you and planned your days, trust that He knows right where they are, and even better, right where you are!