Monday, May 17, 2010

The Lazarus Experiment - Reflections

Forty days. Easter to Ascension Day. Living like Lazarus. Or at least thinking about it.

Some things I did:
  • Day 40 - Enjoyed a second helping of the best homemade falafel ever.
  • Day 32 - Prayed for Russell's wife. (Russell from Survivor, who is a complete a--).
  • Day 31 - Kissed a beautiful woman. (Not Russell's wife - mine).
  • Day 25 - Burned incense while I prayed in my office. (I know - spooky!)
  • Day 21 - Held my tongue.
  • Day 20 - Fished with Jeremy. Helped Linda sell $200 in Yard Sale. Waved at boaters. 
  • Day 19 - Not saying.
  • Day 17 - Told the proprietors of Big Apple Bagel that they make the best bagels in Mid-Michigan.
  • Day 15 - Took the day off from the Lazarus Experiment.
  • Day 8 - Windows rolled down:::Fifty degrees:::Bright orange sunset in front of us:::Juke Joint playing the blues loud on the radio:::Jono and I boogie-in' down the old Freeland Road.
  • Day 5 - At an intersection between Bay City and Freeland, at approx. 9:30 p.m., I did one of those "car-run-around" things, where you get out, run around the car, and jump back in. I did it alone, but with cars waiting behind me. They honked. 
  • Day 1 - I took a walk in the grass without shoes.
This was so much better than Lent. Not that I would have any real personal experience, since I've never really done Lent. At least not the whole thing. Just like a day. Or maybe 22 hours. OK - 21 hours, 34 minutes.

Many people expounded to me on why the whole big deal was all wrong: Lazarus would not have been happy about being brought back. In fact, he would have been majorly peeved. Once the binding of his death-shroud was removed he probably pulled back his un-dead arm to slap Jesus up-side of the head.
"What were you thinking, man! I was just settling down for my fifth harp lesson, sitting there on the clouds all dressed in white, getting ready to really rock the house with my awesome heavenly fingering, and then I hear you call, 'Lazarus! Come forth!" And I'm like, huh?!  And I tell my harp teacher, 'Ah, fiddlesticks!' because there really aren't any stronger words you can use up there, and I pull up my robe and walk on down to the gate. And Peter says, 'See you next time!' And then it occurs to me - I'm going to have to die -- AGAIN! Thanks, Jesus. You're a real pal."
(That's all wrong, of course, because Peter wasn't at the get yet, he was with Jesus at Lazarus' tomb, watching all the fun.)

About this whole "Was Lazarus happy to come back?" thing, I'll just say this: Life is life. God views life as really good, and death as a robber and a thief. We really don't know much about what was going on with Lazarus wherever he was after he died the first time, but I think he was happy to be back among the living. Besides, if we did the whole WWLD? concept based on the assumption that he didn't want to live, I don't think it would really be much fun. Kind of depressing, probably.

So, what have I learned? Here are a few things:

  1. You have to plan these things. At least for the first forty days. I set out to do something every day that was out of the ordinary and distinctively life-affirming. On days when I didn't plan something, it was hard to look back and find something. Next time I'll make a list of several dozen ideas on day one, and then use the list when I need it. That being said, I like the spontaneity of ideas, so I won't stick to the list. 
  2. After forty days, you begin to see things to do without planning or thinking. That is a pleasant result.
  3. God desires our celebratory worship, and that doesn't mean just singing at the top of our lungs in our cars. It means doing things out of our love for him and our zest for life. And when we participate in that kind of worship, it feels really good.
  4. The best, most satisfying things I did were for other people.
  5. From day one, I knew that there was one thing Lazarus would do that I was resisting. I'll have more to write about that later.
Thanks to those of you who continued the experiment, whether you went all the way to the end or just jumped in whenever - it still means something.

Next year we'll do it again. We'll be more prepared, and we'll give more warning. We'll offer ideas, and we'll provide assistance.

But if you're reading this, why wait? Ask yourself, "What would Lazarus (the post-dead Lazarus) do?"  What would you do if you had life? New life? Resurrection life? What would you do if you knew death was not something to fear? What would you do if you knew that the friend who loved you, spent time with you, wanted to be with you, that friend, also had the power to pull all the sting out of death and give you everlasting life?

Jesus is that friend, and he gives that life. You don't have to wait for it. Ask him for it now. And if you know you already have it, live it like Lazarus.

No comments: