Resurrection Seems Late

death peace resurrection Mar 22, 2023

Blog by Alan Fadling

A few years back, Gem and I traveled to the Bavarian Alps in the south of Germany to train a group of Navy chaplains. It was a wonderful experience. While we were there, we took time to do a bit of sightseeing, including a visit to some sites in Munich. We parked in an underground lot and walked to the Marianplatz in the city center.


We had hoped to walk around this historic area and enjoy the scenery, but we soon realized we had walked into the middle of a crowded, noisy demonstration. It wasn’t an especially pleasant place to visit, and we didn’t understand much about what was happening. As a result, we couldn’t fully enjoy the square we’d previewed on several internet videos.


We didn’t stay long but instead walked back to the parking space, paid the four euros for our short stay, and started to leave. As we neared the top of the narrow ramp, I saw pedestrians in the way. Trying to drive around them, I got too close to the right curb and scraped the lower passenger door along its full length. I had to back up a bit to disengage from the curb, and before we drove away, Gem got out and saw the scrape was a bad one. Ugh!


We decided to head to a nearby park and figure out what to do next. I was fuming about the experience. I was angry at the people standing in the way at the top of the ramp. They weren’t malicious, just thoughtless. And I was probably being hypervigilant in the way I avoided them and so ended up damaging our rental car. I felt dumb and feared that our credit card’s auto insurance wouldn’t cover the damage. It felt like the death of our carefree day in Munich.


In my daily Bible reading the next morning, when I was still feeling anxious about our little accident, I was in the Gospel of John and read this passage from chapter 11:


On his arrival, Jesus found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. Now Bethany was less than two miles from Jerusalem, and many Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them in the loss of their brother. When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him, but Mary stayed at home.

“Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.”

Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”

Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”


As I read, I empathized with Mary and Martha in their puzzlement about the delay of Jesus’ visit. I felt their disappointment and sadness. I could imagine myself responding more like Mary in staying home and less like Martha in going out to meet Jesus.


Martha knew that Jesus could have healed her brother if he’d been there. But he wasn’t. And Lazarus died. Sometimes God’s response doesn’t come at the eleventh hour. Sometimes it feels like God shows up late. Lazarus had been dead for days. “Where were you, Jesus?” These are things I’ve felt and prayed in my own life. I felt that way about the rental car accident. I wanted God to have somehow protected me from it. Until the moment it happens, resurrection feels impossible and unimaginable. Until that moment, death is the only visible reality.


I think of our journey into the vision God gave us at URBANA 1990. We believed God was calling us to share our lives with leaders. We assumed God would take us into that work immediately. But we weren’t ready. We became attached to the vision as though it were our identity. It seemed that God needed to let the vision die to remove that unhelpful attachment so the vision could be resurrected without it. That apparently took about 25 years. I am grateful now, but I often felt abandoned and forgotten during those years. For a long time I felt more death than life in that vision.


So when I scraped the passenger door of our rental car against the curb coming out of that parking garage near Marianplatz in Munich, I felt a death. Death to my carefree day. Death to my sense of competency as a driver. My thoughts were negative and dark. I was angry with myself. I was angry with the pedestrians standing in the driveway at the top of that ramp. I was fearful of financial harm. I was fearful and frustrated about the time it would take to address this with our credit card company and the rental car agency.


In a moment like that, I wonder if Jesus might have been saying, “This will be resurrected. You will not suffer death or destruction.” My response to such gracious words was, “God, forgive me when I assume that resurrection will never come in my experience. Grant me anticipatory peace and confidence rather than anticipatory anxiety and fear.”


For Reflection 

  • Is there somewhere in your experience, past or present, that feels more like death than life? What might resurrection in that place of death look like? Ask God about this.



Photo by Jonny Gios on Unsplash