The chorus from an Air Supply song, written by Graham Russell, has been running through my head for the past couple of days.
Actually, it's just that first line, "Here I am, the one that you love."
I'm sure I knew all of the words back in the day and turned up the radio each time it came on. It's a love song, with the one who is loved asking for "just another day," promising that he in turn loves her "in so many ways."
But the stanza that continues to loop through my mind, providing the background music for everything else in my day, wasn't inspired by a radio reprise of the album released in 1981.
It was the message Mary and Martha sent to Jesus when their brother Lazarus was taken ill. "Lord, 'the one that you love' is sick."
The one that you love.
The very thought stopped me in my tracks. Who is this one who is loved? Is it just Lazarus -- soon to die, soon to live again? If so, then call me Lazarus.
These sisters of Lazarus did the only thing they knew to do. They sent for the one they had seen heal the sick, give sight to the blind, strength to the weak and love to the unlovable among them saying, "Lord, the one that you love is sick."
Here, in John 11, is where John, the disciple whom Jesus loved, paints his extraordinary picture of intercessory prayer and the Lord's response to it.
This prayer is not just for Lazarus. This is the prayer accepted when offered by any who believe upon the One who heals the sick, raises the dead, restores sight to the blind, gives strength to the weak and pours out love to the unlovable.
Lord, the one that you love is heartbroken.
Lord, the one that you love is trembling in fear.
Lord, the one that you love is blind.
Lord, the one that you love is forgotten, alone, wounded.
Lord, the one that you love is hungry, thirsty, naked.
Lord, the one that you love is lost.
Lord, the one that you love is ashamed.
This prayer is not just for Lazarus. This prayer, first uttered after every conventional remedy has been applied and failed, becomes the believer's starting point whenever the enemy hurls the arrows of loneliness, illness, injury, death, divorce, poverty, calamity at us, and any time temptation successfully entraps us.
Here I am, the one that you love, heartbroken.
Here I am, the one that you love, trembling in fear.
Here I am, the one that you love, blind.
Here I am, the one that you love, forgotten, alone, wounded.
Here I am, the one that you love, hungry, thirsty, naked.
Here I am, the one that you love, lost.
Here I am, the one that you love, ashamed.
In the fullness of time, Jesus heard and heeded the prayer from Mary and Martha. John tells us that as he witnessed the great sorrow pouring forth from those who also loved Lazarus that "he wept."
But he didn't stop there.
"Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. 'Take away the stone,' he said. 'But, Lord,' said Martha, the sister of the dead man, 'by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.' Then Jesus said, 'Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?' So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, 'Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.' When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, 'Lazarus, come out!' The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face. Jesus said to them, 'Take off the grave clothes and let him go.'" (John 11:38-44)
Believe. Believe that Jesus is the One sent by the Father, to seek and to save that which was lost. Sent to shepherd wandering sheep. Sent to heal, to rescue, to redeem. Believe that now three remain: faith, hope and love. And the greatest of these is love.
See in Jesus the One that loves you and sing to him the closing of Graham Russell's chorus, "Understand, the one that you love, loves you in so many ways."
"For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in him, will not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him." John 3:16, 17 (NIV)
I don't have all the answers, but I know the One who does. Let's walk together for awhile and discover Him; together.