Focus on the Family Broadcast

Overcoming Obstacles to Pursue God’s Direction in Life

Overcoming Obstacles to Pursue God’s Direction in Life

What can you do when God gives you a task that seems impossible? Join Robyn Dykstra for a fascinating look at a time when Jesus did the impossible – raising Lazarus from the dead. Learn how the principles found in that story helped Robyn as she sought to right a wrong that impacted her earthly father, with the help of her Heavenly Father.
Original Air Date: March 18, 2024


Robyn Dykstra: Let me tell ya, from a girl who has done all the things, you do not have to pay back what was paid in full. You do not have to pay back what was paid in full. It is done. It is done.

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John Fuller: Hmm, well, we often need encouragement to overcome all sorts of obstacles, including your own past, so we can push forward in life. And, uh, we’re gonna be covering that today on Focus on the Family with Focus president Jim Daly. Thanks for joining us. I’m John Fuller,

Jim Daly: John, our guest, Robyn Dykstra is going to share a unique look at the biblical account of the resurrection of Lazarus, and then she’ll personalize it with a story from her own family that you won’t wanna miss. Uh, we aired Robyn’s testimony last summer, but for those who missed it, uh, let me give you her background. Robyn is an ex Playboy Bunny who was married to a gangster, uh, she escaped that abusive relationship and became a Christian. Man, think of the reach of God’s hand.

John: Hmm.

Jim: Right, isn’t that awesome? Then, uh, she was widowed twice before she met her wonderful husband and partner in ministry, Dave. She travels and speaks full time and coaches other speakers as well.

John: And we’re gonna link over to that message, her testimony that we aired last summer on our website, it really is an amazing story. Let’s go ahead and hear now Robyn Dykstra speaking to our staff on today’s Focus on the Family.

Robyn: So today, I want to ask you, if you’ve ever had a moment. Not one of those, “Oh, I’m gonna remember this forever,” kind of moments. But one of those “Ohhhhh no,” kind of moments. Show of hands. Who’s had one of those? Yes, I figured. The computer swallows four hours of your work and will not spit it back up. Uh, the toddler does laundry in the toilets and flushes her blankie in the process. My favorite, the Christmas tree is tipped over by the family pet, shattering all of grandma’s heirloom ornaments. That is a moment. Just yesterday, I’m at dinner a lovely place. And I’m chewing away and I feel something hard in my mouth. It’s a tooth. My tooth has come off. And I think this is not good. I’ve got a big gig tomorrow.

Audience: (laughs)

Robyn: And, and I just think this is wha- this is what happens when you step up and say yes to Jesus. And you say I serve an awesome God. And I will call out the name of Jesus in conversation. And the enemy knocks a tooth right out of the front of your head. And so I, you know, I went to Walgreens and I bought the goop and it didn’t work. So frantically this morning at 7:15, we are googling cosmetic dentists into local area. Found a cosmetic dentist, put my tooth back on and you can’t even tell which one it was.

Audience: (laughs)

Robyn: I mean, we’re gonna come up against resistance. But when we have resistance, we know that often it’s for our good. But there’s another kind of moment beyond that “Grrrr”, there’s that, “No, no, no, no, no” moment. You get bad news about your money, or your health or your relationships. And it’s no, no, no, this isn’t right. Well, the text today comes out of John 11, which is the little story about Mary and Martha and Lazarus. Lazarus is sick. Lazarus is the man of the house. He’s the protection. He’s the covering. He’s the provider for these two women and he is sick, on the brink sick. No, no, no, no, no sick.

And so in verse three, the Bible says, “So the sisters sent word to Jesus, Lord, the one you love is sick. Well, when Jesus heard that Lazarus was sick, he said, in verse four and following, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it’s for God’s glory, so that God’s Son may be glorified through it. Because Jesus,” verse five, “loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus.” Verse six, “So when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was for two more days.” Now, wait a minute, Lord, the one you love is sick and you stay where you are for two more days? Now, I don’t ask you to raise your hand but doesn’t it ever feel like hey, waiting here, and it feels a little like, there’s an ungodly delay.

It feels a little bit like, hmm, I don’t think he’s gonna make it. I don’t know. It feels uncomfortable. But Jesus does come. And on his arrival in verse 17, it says, “Jesus found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days, in the tomb four days.” When Mary and Martha, meet Jesus, they say exactly the same thing to him. “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” They’ve probably have been talking about this for four days. Do you think he’s going to come? Is he going to make it? I hope he comes because he would send that sickness packing. We would not be worried. But now, Jesus h- has delayed his arrival. And it’s too late. That’s what we do when we don’t get what we want. We question, like, what happened here? What happened here? What happened when I miscarried that baby?

What happened when my son went prodigal? What happened when I lost my job? What happened? We question God’s motives and timing. In verse 33-35, “Jesus sees Mary weeping, and the Jews who are with her weeping, and Jesus is so moved in spirit, he’s troubled. And he says, “Where have you laid him?” “Come and see,” they say. And then Jesus wept.” I love that little Bible verse, Jesus wept. It means that he is not distant from my pain, it means that he’s in it with me. It’s powerful. Verse 36, “The Jews say, see how Jesus loved Lazarus.” It’s so obvious to everybody, that this, this was just, whoo, a bad moment. And we see here that Jesus loved Lazarus, and Lazarus loved him, but it didn’t insulate this family from this icky thing that happened, didn’t insulate them from death visiting their house.

Now, at this point of the story, everybody, everybody, Mary, Martha, the Jewish people who are mourning with her, Jesus, and all of his entourage, they go to the tomb of Lazarus, and it’s a cave with a stone laid across the entrance, and everyone is standing there. And I’m just picturing this, that everybody is crying and weeping and shaking their head and wringing their hands. And I imagine Jesus wiping his eyes and looking with compassion on Mary and Martha. I imagine him squaring his shoulders and taking a deep breath, because he’s going into battle, you know. And then he says, “Roll away the stone.” Martha jumps in, “Goodness Lord, by this time, there’s a bad odor for he’s been in there for four days.” And Jesus gently, again, says, “Martha, Did I not tell you that if you believe you will see the glory of God?”

Now, this is where the story gets really interesting to me, in order to see the glory of God, the splendor, the favorite, the abundance, in order to see the good stuff, they have to roll away the stone. Jesus, who has the power to heal the sick, give sight to the blind, open deaf ears and set captives free, could certainly have rolled away the stone. Yes? yes. But he doesn’t. He says, “Roll away the stone.” When we ask the Lord to intercede on our behalf, I believe he answers one of four ways. He says yes. He says no. He says wait. And he says you go first. And that’s just what he did. You roll away the stone. This would require their trust, their agreement, their participation, to get to the miraculous. So now in anticipation in whatever Jesus is going to do with this situation, verse 41 says, “They rolled away the stone,” and now there’s the stink. The stink has to be there, because it proves that Lazarus is not just trapped in there taking a nap waiting to be rescued. I mean, there’s stink because there has been decay.

Verse 41 says, “Jesus says looks up to Heaven and thanks God for what’s to come. And then he calls out in a loud voice, “Hey, Lazarus come out.” And the dead man came out.” The grave clothes would have been several layers of linen packed with aloe and embalming spices. And after four days and the hot Mediterranean sun, a little stiff. Lazarus is alive but he’s not experiencing the good stuff yet. He’s been resurrected. He has new life, a fresh start, but he’s constricted by his grave clothes. And I think that’s how a lot of us live our lives today. We have this new life in Christ but we’re still bound up by the grave clothes, bound up by things that don’t belong to us.

What might that be for you? The shame of your before Jesus activities? The regrets of, uh, ooh, you shoulda known better? The secret decisions you make in the dark? The bitterness you hold on to? Justifiably of course. The hatred, the pride, the jealousy, the idolatry you just, uh, can’t let go. See if the stone and the stink cannot stop us, the grave clothes are the next thing holding us back from the great stuff that God has for us. The stuff where heaven comes to earth. And you wear grave clothes long enough, and you start to get used to their limitations. Like, pretty soon they’re your new normal. Let me tell ya, from a girl who has done all the things, you do not have to pay back what was paid in full. You do not have to pay back what was paid in full. It is done. It is done.

Here’s the thing, grave clothes are tight. Most of the time, we need a little help shimmying out of ’em. Verse 44 says, “Jesus says take off the grave clothes and let him go.” Lazarus needed help to get out of his grave clothes to get his good stuff back. There’s no shame in asking for help. You know who makes you feel bad about asking for help? The enemy of your soul. Don’t be a burden. Don’t be a pain. You, you just suck it up buttercup and get on with things. Send him packing and ask for help. And maybe you need a helping hand or a little medicine or a little therapy or a little prayer support or a little coaching or a little mentoring or somebody who will bang on the gates of heaven for you in prayer on a regular basis but ask for it because we are not mind readers.

John: This is Focus on the Family with Jim Daly. And that’s Robyn Dykstra, and we’ll encourage you to get a copy of her beautiful gift book. It’s called Growing Your Faith: 25 Devotional Stories for Women. We’ll send that out to you for a gift of any amount to the Ministry of Focus on the Family today. And we’ll include a free audio download of her entire presentation with additional content. So donate today. Be generous as you can, and request those resources at or call us 800, the letter A and the word FAMILY. 800-232-6459. And we’ll return now to more from Robyn Dykstra.

Robyn: Okay, the final but glorious point to this story comes in verse 45. “Therefore, many of the Jews who had come to mourn with Mary and Martha, and saw what Jesus did, put their faith in him.” Whoop whoop-

Audience: Whoop whoop.

Robyn: … that’s good news. The message of Jesus is received. The miracle of resurrection is personalized. I have seen this in my own life. I’m sure you have too. My parents were high school sweethearts, got married, produced me. And then by the time I was three years old, the common ground underneath them had shrunk so much that my dad fell off, and there was a divorce. So the relationship with my dad was reduced really to Christmas and birthday visits. Um, but my mom bu- rebounded and she got married again. And this new fella, he, he asked if he could adopt me. And my dad, bless his heart, made the most difficult decision of his life and signed off his parental rights to me, hoping that I would have the fresh start and the good life that was forfeited in their divorce.

Unfortunately, that marriage only lasted seven months, huh, and there was another divorce. I never saw my adoptive father again. By the time I was seven years old, I had been abandoned by two fathers. And that’ll do some business on a girl. But my mama, po- my mama loved me ferociously. I mean, biggest advocate, greatest cheerleader to the day she died. She was all about, there’s nothing you can’t do. I believe in you, Robyn. My mama showed me and told me that I was loved and cherished and important. So when she died, I was only 40 years old, and it left this huge hole in my heart. But 10 years later, I was teaching a Bible study on Ephesians. And, um, we got to chapter 6:2 and 3, you probably have it memorized, but I’m just gonna read it for those of you who are new.

Um, “Honor your father and mother, which is the first commandment with a promise, so that it will go well with you and that you will enjoy a long life on the Earth.” And this verse, it just popped off the page. And so I know when that happens, I have to ask the Lord, what’s up? Why do you want me to pay particular attention to this verse? Because I didn’t know why it had jumped out at me. My mom had been dead 10 years and it wasn’t like I was trash talking her, you know. And my dad and I had this pretty good relationship. And he wasn’t enough, he lived in another state. So it wasn’t like there was a lot to dishonor. Our relationship was amicable. There weren’t any harsh words or resentment. So I wasn’t sure what’s up. So I prayed because I want this long life and I want it to go well with me. So I pray, how can I honor my father and mother? Whoo.

So this still small voice traipses across the backyard of my brain. And it says, “Set the record straight.” Like, I don’t know what that means. I hear it again, “Set the record straight,” just traipse us across the backyard of my brain. And as I pray into this, I feel like the Lord is asking me to put my birth father’s name back on my birth certificate. Well, that’s weird. Don’t you think that’s weird? I think that’s weird. I don’t even know how do you do that. I googled it. And turns out the only way you can change a birth certificate is through adoption. And I am like, c- come on. I am 50 years old. I am married again. I’ve got growing kids. I am g- that’s a weird… I’m not gonna… No.

Audience: (laughs)

Robyn: That can’t be it. But turns out adult adoption is a real thing. Um, th- but it was the stone that needed to be rolled away. Because adult adoptions are expensive. And they are tedious. So as I’m talking to the clerk at the county office, he says, “Okay, now if you’re gonna go forward with, with this, we, we need to find some information. Is your father remarried?” And I said, “Yeah, he hit pay dirt with this one. I mean, she takes the seeds out of his watermelon when she packs his lunch. She’s amazing.” And they’ve been married for like 35 years now. And, and it’s going good and, and the clerk says to me, “Well, if he’s married, his wife will have to agree to adopt you, too.”

I’m like, “What kind of crazy pants is this?” I mean, as if asking my birth dad isn’t going to be odd enough. Now I got to ask his wife for buy in too. Okay, big stone, big stone. And then the clerk says to me, “You know, there’s only room for one name in each box on the birth certificate. And if you go through with this, and your dad and his wife, adopt you, your mother’s name will have to come off to make room for your step mom’s name.” No, no, no, no, no, no, no. Can you smell the stink from where you are? I wasn’t gonna do it. I’m not taking my mama’s name off my birth certificate. That doesn’t sound anything like honoring, it feels dishonoring.

But I want the good stuff. I want obedience in my life. I want to live a long life and I want it to go well with me. But I started to think things were good enough. I started rationalizing. If, I’m okay, you know, this is good enough, it’s too hard, it’s too painful, it takes too long, it’s too much. Maybe I should just leave well enough alone. So one day, I’m praying for God to let me off the hook, just, you know, give me a different assignment, just tell me to do something else. And I’m reading through Revelation 20. And in verse 12 and 15, I’m kinda smooshing together. But it says, “Another book was opened, which is the book of life. Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life, was thrown into the lake of fire.” And I took that to mean that the Lord was telling me that since my mom had had this deathbed conversion experience, and was in heaven, that her name would be in the book of life and she would be more concerned with my obedience than earthly documents. And the piece fell.

I thought, okay, let’s do this thing. So Dave and I go to my dad and my stepmom’s house, and we sat down and I say, “Listen, I just really feel like the Lord is prompting me to ask you a big question. And I was wondering how you’d feel about adopting a 50 year old, potty-trained, financially secure daughter, and so that I could put daddy’s name back on my birth certificate?” And simultaneously, they said, “Robyn, we would be honored.” Just like in the Bible verse, just like in the Bible verse, honor your father and mother, uh, as the Lord has commanded so that you may live long, and it will go well with you. Isn’t that cool? Isn’t that so good that he would give me that affirmation just like that? So the day of the adoption, um, my dad and his wife come up to Michigan, and we’re waiting our turn in front of the judge. And there’s, you know, my little family and like 16 couples holding babies and another dozen with a collection of foster kids and me.

Audience: (laughs)

Robyn: We go in, we have our turn, we do the thing. And on the way out of the courtroom, my dad is having his own moment. And I said to him, “Daddy, are you okay?” And he said to me, “Robyn, you’ve always been such a good girl. You’ve l- you’ve really been nice to me and respectful. But until this day, I never knew you loved me. I never knew you loved me.” See, my dad always regretted giving up his parental rights, and he just couldn’t forgive himself for the things that he’d done. And when anyone would talk to him about Jesus, he would just say, “No, no, no, I’m not worthy. That’s not for me. God does not want someone like me.” It took an act of God for my dad to understand unconditional love, on an earthly realm, and even in a heavenly realm. Isn’t that so sweet? My dad carried so much shame for the choices he’d made in his life.

Both my dad and his wife thought that it was too late. They were too old. They’d made too big a mess. And I believe that God used that adoption to show my dad he was worthy. That he was significant. That he did have importance and that he was lovable, because within a year, both my dad and my new mama made a profession of faith to follow Jesus Christ. Whoop whoop.

Audience: (Applause)

Robyn: I don’t know where you are today, but I am going to pray that the Lord would reveal to you if there’s a stone in your life, you would give it a good shove. And if there’s a stink that’s just all over you, that you would have the courage to just wave it off and not get discouraged or distracted or doubt that God the Father has his eyeball on you. And if you are still stuck in some kind of wonky, grave clothes, that you would have the courage to ask for help and shed them. And then as you do those things, that others would watch and that they would find our Jesus.

John: That’s Robyn Dykstra speaking at an all staff chapel service here at Focus on the Family.

Jim: Wow, uh, pretty powerful. What a great way to illustrate how important it is to be an excellent example of God’s love to our friends and family. I so appreciate Robyn’s encouragement to persevere when we sense God leading us in a particular way. And if this program has brought up some issues for you, uh, please give us a call. Our staff would be honored to listen to your story and pray with you. And if needed, uh, you can request a call back from one of our caring Christian counselors. They can give you a free one time consultation with biblical advice and ideas on what to do next, which I think is very helpful. 1000s, literally 1000s of people benefit from this outreach every month. And let me remind you our goal here at Focus on the Family is to help your family thrive in Christ. As our culture continues to minimize Christian values, couples are struggling to nurture their marriages, parents are striving to raise their children in a godly way. And expectant mothers are needing love and support so that they can choose life for their pre-born baby. And we are equipped to help but we can’t do it alone. This, uh, month, we’ve set a goal of finding 1000 people who care deeply about families as well and will commit to becoming monthly sustainers of the ministry. And that’s something I know you and Dena do, John.

John: We do.

Jim: Jean and I do it. Uh, we give monthly and a monthly gift to Focus on the Family, uh, provides the rocket fuel we need to save America’s families and to do all we can. Uh, you can join this faithful group of givers today, and I hope you’ll pray about doing so. When you make a monthly pledge of any amount, I’d like to send you a book by Robyn Dykstra called Growing Your Faith: 25 Devotional Stories for Women. Uh, if you enjoyed this message, you’ll love her book. And if you can’t make a monthly commitment right now, we get it. Uh, we can send the book to you for a one time gift as well.

John: Yeah, donate generously today and request Robyn’s devotional which is a beautiful gift book addition, when you call 800-232-6459. That’s 800 the letter A and the word FAMILY, or donate online at On behalf of the entire team, thanks for listening today to Focus on the Family with Jim Daly. I’m John Fuller, inviting you back as we once again help you and your family thrive in Christ.

Today's Guests


Growing Your Faith: 25 Devotional Stories for Women

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