Tommie Farrell currently serves as 1st Counselor in the Abilene Texas Stake. He has served as Ward Mission Leader, Elders Quorum President, and Bishop. Favorite callings of his past have been Primary Teacher, Temple Ordinance Worker in Lubbock Texas Temple, and as a Scout Master just prior to his current calling. He has been married to Karen Farrell for 28 years and they have four fantastic children at ages 26, 20, 17 and 13 and they have been blessed and excited to have received their first grandchild to the family. Tommie has been a physician for 22 years with 17 years of these dedicated completely to the field of Hospice and Palliative Medicine where he gets to care for patients and families with critical illness and end-of-life care.
Martha’s brother was dead.
In her mourning she said to Jesus,
“Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.” Jesus replies, “Thy brother shall rise again.” “Martha saith unto him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day. Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live.” (John 11:21-25)
This declaration “I am the resurrection, and the life,” stirs the soul. As with many of Christ’s teachings many lessons can be drawn from it. I would like to share one of these.
Promises We Have from the Gospel
Jesus designates two separate titles for himself – the Resurrection and the Life. The Resurrection represents the future promise. This promise is one that Martha had testified of herself, “I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”
I think, for most of us, this is a testimony easily given. We are taught this from such a young age and celebrate it thoroughly every Easter. It is our comfort at every funeral and memorial.
Sometimes I daydream of what it will be like to play with my cousin Mary again as we did as children, or what it would be like to work in the garden with my grandfather again or hold my son David in my arms. These are more than fantasies of reuniting with the people I love; they are the promises we have from the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
“…there is a resurrection, therefore the grave hath no victory, and the sting of death is swallowed up in Christ.” (Mosiah 16:8)
I Am Going to Bless You Today Too
The second title Jesus states here is that He is the Life. We know He is the Savior and by His atonement we have the promise of eternal life. However, in this moment Christ was both teaching about eternal life and preparing Martha for a blessing on this day.
Martha shows hesitation at Christ’s invitation to remove the stone from Lazarus’s tomb by saying, “Lord, by this time he stinketh: for he hath been dead four days.” Jesus reminds her, “Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God?” (John 11:39-40)
Christ was going to demonstrate God’s glory by providing a great miracle to that family on that day. I want to remember that when Christ states “I am the resurrection, and the life,” he is saying I am both the promise of future blessings and I am ready to bless your life today.
In John 10, when Christ teaches that He is the Good Shepherd, He states He comes that His sheep “might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” (John 10:10)
He wants to contribute to our joy today. He wants us to see the glory of God in our lives today. He wants us to see this not just in the easy times, but also the hard. It was in Martha’s grief that He was preparing her for a joyful surprise. We will not likely have our sorrows instantly removed in this way, but we can expect support and joy even in our darkest times.
This does take faith on our part. It takes listening for that voice of comfort when we are hurting.
It takes accepting the peaceful reassurances offered by the Spirit when we are anxious over things. It takes being like Alma when we have sinned and remembering “concerning the coming of one Jesus Christ, a Son of God, to atone for the sins of the world” and crying out “O Jesus, thou Son of God, have mercy on me, who am in the gall of bitterness.” (Alma 36:17-18)
Faith Verses Despair
Receiving the Life that Jesus offers us today in some ways requires more faith because we are counting on His blessings now. I have had myself in every scenario I just shared and truly every time He has been there for me. I remember a personal experience prior to learning this lesson. I was going through a tough situation at work that elevated to the level where a decision I made was being deliberated in an appeal process at the university
I started despairing, second guessing myself, worried about how I was being perceived. A friend close to the situation shared the thought,
“You have gone about this process uprightly and you have never demonstrated malice of heart. Don’t you think the Lord will see that all is straightened out in the end?”
He was right. In the end all worked out as it needed to be. I was a bit embarrassed afterwards and thought to myself, “When will I learn to trust the Lord? He has never let me down before.” I made a vow to do better in my next trial.
Heavenly Father has obliged me in that wish and provided plenty of opportunities for me to have to demonstrate trust. I am not perfect at this, but I have not ever entered again into deep despair and it sure is easier going through each day expecting that the Lord wants good for me no matter the outlook of the momentary situation.
Do the Spiritual Work
“Seek and expect miracles…. Do the spiritual work to seek miracles. Prayerfully ask God to help you exercise that kind of faith… Few things will accelerate your spiritual momentum more than realizing the Lord is helping you to move a mountain in your life.”
Many, like myself, who have utilized the Church’s addiction recovery program have seen the truth of this invitation. Overcoming long-standing habits, whether it be a substance addiction or a pervasive negative behavior, is like moving a mountain. There simply is no way to do it on your own. It is only when we learn to connect daily to our Savior and allow Him to make that very day of life better, that we start to see the changes we yearn to see in our life.
This is another aspect of Christ having the title as “The Life.” The pattern is not for Him to just change us for the better and then leave our lives. He wants to persist in our lives on a daily basis and bless us continually. A common mistake made in addiction recovery is to believe that once you reach a certain time frame of abstinence that you are “cured.” Many, again, including myself, have found just how quickly we can become weak again and return to our addictions if we ever make the choice that we are strong enough to live life without connecting to our Savior on a daily basis.
John phrases it this way,
“And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.” (1 John 5:11-12)
When we live our days connected with the Son of God, He will provide that day with life. Without this connection there is no meaningful life.
The Savior supports this teaching when He described himself as the true vine –
“I am the true vine… Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me you can do nothing.” (John 15:1, 4-5)
Despite her fear and mourning, Martha had faith in Christ. She did not know how great a work was going to be done in her family that day, but she did believe – “But I know, that even now, whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee.” (John 11:22) Christ not only taught that he was the Resurrection and the Life but he demonstrated it powerfully that day.
Will We Accept the Invitation?
We have been invited to seek such powerful miracles. We have been invited to allow our Savior to be our daily Shepherd who makes life more abundant. We have been invited to abide in Him as the true vine without whom we can do nothing. So, let’s do the work daily to allow Jesus Christ to not only be our hope in the future Resurrection but be our daily Life.