Summary: The risen Christ rolls away the stones that hold us back: secrets we carry, fears and suspicions. He provides "leverage" to move these things out of the way.
What giant stone stands in your way? What stops you from becoming what you want to become? You have dreams, hopes, goals. But something stops you. Not enough money? Not enough time? Maybe. But I would guess that some very large spiritual thing stands in your way. If you sift through all the stuff in your life that isn’t the way you want it to be, the sifting will turn up one huge spiritual issue. I suggest that most of us live with an immense blockade that keeps us from being all that our deepest souls desire to be.
Several years ago, I was conducting a wedding rehearsal at the University of Maryland chapel. The rehearsal had not gone very well. It was mid-summer, and the chapel was beastly hot. We were having heavy afternoon thundershowers, so that the humidity and the noise were getting on everyone’s nerves. Some of the bridesmaids had come late; some of the groomsmen had not come at all; the organist wanted to leave early; and the groom said he would much rather be lying on the beach nursing something cool. So the bride and her mother began to fight. About what? About everything. The bride wanted her maid of honor to stand here; the mother said she should be over there. The bride wanted her father to escort her to the altar, give her a swift kiss, and then sit down; the mother wanted the father to stay right there, firmly in place between the bride and the groom, until death do them part. These two women snapped and snarled at each other, while the rest of us vainly tried to smooth thing over.
Things came to a climax when the mother swung from the shoulder and slapped her daughter squarely in the face, then turned and ran straight down one hundred and ten feet of chapel aisle, out into a driving rainstorm. Dramatic stuff! We stood there with our mouths hanging wide open. It was one of those moments in which somebody needs to say something intelligent. “Nice weather for a wedding” doesn’t cut it! There was a very awkward silence. But the father finally broke the silence. He had a word for it. He explained it all. He told me how to interpret what had just happened. His explanation of his wife’s bizarre behavior, “Well, you see, she’s from Georgia.”
“She’s from Georgia.” That explains everything, doesn’t it? I must confess, that didn’t tell me anything. Being from Georgia might explain a fondness for peaches or a desire to do an Atlanta Braves tomahawk chop in the springtime, but just how would it explain slapping your daughter and trotting off into the thunderstorm? That was beyond me.
The next day, after we managed to hold the wedding, I got the father off in a corner. He told me more. It seems that the family had moved from Georgia to Maryland eight years earlier so that he could take a new job. His wife had not wanted to come. She had no friends here. She thought it was too busy, too big. She was afraid for their daughter: she might meet the wrong people (like this groom); she might get into bad habits. This woman had never wanted to leave Georgia. And so everything, great or small, in their family’s life, for eight years had centered on this one issue. Every decision had been flavored with, “If we were still in Georgia .. “. Every problem had been factored with, “If we had not left Georgia .. “. Every single situation in this family’s life had been blocked with one great spiritual obstacle, one insurmountable roadblock. And though it might seem trivial to you or to me, it was not trivial to her. It was the stone around which she could not go. It was the blockage she could not resolve. Rolled up against the gate of her life, slapped in place and sealed there, so that nothing worked. Nothing was right. A spiritual defeat. An unbeatable enemy. She was stopped right in her tracks. “She’s from Georgia.”
I wonder how many of us are caught behind stones like that. There is that one huge issue in your life, that one defining moment. You cannot get around it. It shapes everything. It stops everything. It looms large. It’s a huge, heavy stone, and no one has been able to move it. It may seem trivial to others, or it may be truly immense. But the issue is that it is standing in your way. It is keeping you from being what you could be. It’s a spiritual blockade, standing in the path.
Today I want to introduce you to somebody who moves the heaviest and most daunting of stones. I want to introduce you to someone who is able to roll the stone out of your way and give you freedom. I want to introduce you to Jesus Christ, risen from the dead. Because He lives, we too can live. Because He is risen from the dead, He is able to give us life, and life abundant.