Dena Johnson Martin Christian Blog and Commentary

Take Off the Graveclothes

One of Jesus’ most famous miracles is recorded in John 11 when He raises Lazarus from the dead.

A man named Lazarus was sick…So [his] two sisters sent a message to Jesus telling him, “Lord, your dear friend is very sick.”

…So although Jesus loved Martha, Mary, and Lazarus, he stayed where he was for the next two days. Finally, he said to his disciples, “Let’s go back to Judea.”

…So he told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead. And for your sakes, I’m glad I wasn’t there, for now you will really believe. Come, let’s go see him.”

…When Jesus arrived at Bethany, he was told that Lazarus had already been in his grave for four days…. Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if only you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask.”

…Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying. Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never ever die. Do you believe this, Martha?”

“Yes, Lord,” she told him. “I have always believed you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one who has come into the world from God.” 28 Then she returned to Mary. She called Mary aside from the mourners and told her, “The Teacher is here and wants to see you.” 29 So Mary immediately went to him.

…When Jesus saw her weeping and saw the other people wailing with her, a deep anger welled up within him, and he was deeply troubled. “Where have you put him?” he asked them.

They told him, “Lord, come and see.”  Then Jesus wept. …

 Jesus was still angry as he arrived at the tomb, a cave with a stone rolled across its entrance. 39 “Roll the stone aside,” Jesus told them.

But Martha, the dead man’s sister, protested, “Lord, he has been dead for four days. The smell will be terrible.”

Jesus responded, “Didn’t I tell you that you would see God’s glory if you believe?”  So they rolled the stone aside. Then Jesus looked up to heaven and said, “Father, thank you for hearing me. You always hear me, but I said it out loud for the sake of all these people standing here, so that they will believe you sent me.”  Then Jesus shouted, “Lazarus, come out!”  And the dead man came out, his hands and feet bound in graveclothes, his face wrapped in a headcloth. Jesus told them, “Unwrap him and let him go!” John 11:1-44

One of the most popular posts I’ve ever written is based off this passage. In that post, I talk about suffering the death of divorce and how Jesus called me back to life.

I have really been contemplating this passage again. This week, I listened to a sermon that used this passage, and I felt myself calling out to my Jesus, “Lord, call me out of the grave again!” This death has been a very subtle and slow death, much unlike my divorce over a decade again.

Let me tell you: I have an amazing life. I am blessed beyond measure. I have an incredible husband, three great kids, and everything I could ever want—have ever wanted.

Yet, I feel myself sinking slowly into the abyss, watching my life ebb away. It’s nothing drastic; instead, it’s the passion that seems to be dying as I live in a constant state of burn out and exhaustion. As I told Roy this week, I was thrust into the role of provider over a decade ago, and my Father did not create me to be a provider. He created me to be a mother, a helpmate, a nurturer. The years of fighting to eek out a living for my family has taken a toll on me, and I long for the days of being available to my family—the carefree days of impromptu trips to the Science Museum or picnics and bike rides around the lake. I long for the days of just being available and making memories with my family.

I will say that I changed jobs this summer, and I am blessed to be able to work from home. It has been a huge blessing, and I feel like I am more available to my family than I have been in years. We are trying to be intentional in building memories (which, I might add, is tough with young adult children). We are trying to find time to play and create community. And all of these things help.

But, the years have taken a toll on me. I feel as if my Savior has heard of my dilemma, and yet He has chosen not to come immediately (John 11:6). And during His delay, I have died a little each day.

This week, however, I heard Him calling. “Dena, come forth! Remove the graveclothes and live! This season has been for my glory!” (John 11:43-44). I don’t know what the days ahead hold, but I know my Father is calling me forward—forward to an abundant life filled with Him!

Where are you today? What death are you facing? Do you feel as if you are dying inside, little by little? Do you feel like this life is passing you by while you are trying to swim upstream?

Pause for just a moment. Do you hear Him? He’s coming! Maybe it seems as if He has been delayed, but remember it is for His glory. He’s standing outside your grave, weeping with you over the pain and the loss. He’s calling you to come forth, to remove the graveclothes and pass from death to life.

Will you join me? Will you join Him? Let’s see the glory that God does in our lives!



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