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Get out of the Tomb!

Blog Headers 2023-24 (19)

Editor’s Note: As we continue celebrating the liturgical season of Easter, lay missioner Joleen Johnson reflects on how God calls us out of our individual “tombs” and invites us into new, abundant life.

Mark 16:1-5: “When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, bought spices, so that they might come and anoint Him. Very early on the first day of the week, they came to the tomb when the sun had risen. They were saying to one another, ‘Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?’ Looking up, they saw that the stone had been rolled away, although it was extremely large. Entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting at the right, wearing a white robe; and they were amazed.”

We all have tombs, and we are all in one or more tombs for different reasons. What has killed you or killed part of you and left you in a dark place? That’s your tomb. What pain are you holding onto that is leaving you feeling alone and dead to your joy and your old self? That’s your tomb. What have you been pushing down and suppressing? What grudges are you holding, or what resentment grips you and keeps you from forgiveness? That’s your tomb. What lies are you believing that have you feeling trapped, imprisoned, or controlled by what the devil has convinced you to believe? That’s your tomb. We all have things in our lives, choices we have made, sins we have given power over us, pains and darknesses, addictions, that keep us dead and bound in our tombs, and certainly keep us from becoming the people who God created us to be and calls us to be. Perhaps it’s time to come out of your tomb.

What caught me from reading Mark 16:1-5 this time is the question that the women ask, “who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?” In Jesus’s situation, God rolled away the stone. I think only he can. Can we roll away our own stones which keep us in our tombs? Can loved ones, or mental health professionals, or clergy roll away our heavy stones which keep us trapped in death? The women going to Jesus’ tomb knew they couldn’t roll his stone away themselves. Only God can roll away the stones or heal and transform the pain and darkness that keeps us locked inside our tombs. 

What is the stone? Is it fear, lack of trust, a feeling of unworthiness, or another factor that is keeping you trapped in your tomb? What is the devil using to keep you there? This is resurrection time. God already rolled away your stone, just like He did for the women who went to anoint Jesus. Whatever your big heavy thing is that prevents you from coming out of your tomb into resurrection and new life and freedom, has already been redeemed. 

Now is the time to come out of your tomb. God always gives us the choice to come out. He lovingly removes the stone, but doesn’t force us out. Rather, he invites us out into the newness of life in him, and we come out of the tomb different than when we entered the tomb. God is continually calling us to himself, to resurrection, and to life abundant. 

Whatever your tomb is, and whatever your stone is, God has made the first move in clearing the way and calling you out of the tomb. You weren’t created for any tomb, you were created for life and perpetual unity with God in heaven. 

Questions for Reflection: What kind of tomb do you feel trapped inside? What is keeping you there? How can you invite God to roll away the stone that seals your tomb?

Joleen discovered her passion for overseas service during her first mission trip in 2012 to Guatemala. Since then she has served in Haiti and studied abroad in India, teaching English in an elementary school, after which she began to feel the call to longer term overseas service. Joleen is excited to see what God will teach her through FMS, and looks forward to living out His call for her. She is inspired by FMS’s humble and relational approach to ministry.