Wednesday, October 22, 2008

"Yes to God" Chapter 5... Ms. Spirituality

“In the crowd that day there was a woman who for twelve years had been afflicted with hemorrhages. She had spent every penny she had on doctors but not one had been able to help her. She slipped in from behind and touched the edge of Jesus’ robe. At that very moment her hemorrhaging stopped. Jesus said, “Who touched me?” When no one stepped forward, Peter said, “But Master, we’ve got crowds of people on our hands. Dozens have touched you.” Jesus insisted, “Someone touched me. I felt power discharging from me.” When the woman realized that she couldn’t remain hidden, she knelt trembling before him. In front of all the people, she blurted out her story—why she touched him and how at that same moment she was healed. Jesus said, “Daughter, you took a risk trusting me, and now you’re healed and whole. Live well, live blessed!’ “
Luke 8:43-48, The Message

This passage, this story in scripture has come to me again and again this past week. No matter what I do, I can’t seem to escape it. It was the scripture passage for my devotional on Sunday morning. Someone told me about how it had encouraged them through the past week, on Sunday night. Monday night I read our chapter, and then the study questions and there it was again.

Like I said, I can’t escape it!

I had no idea what to write this week. None. No clue. I read the chapter. I saw so many ways to go, I just didn’t know what to do. I read some of the others posts, saw how some of them took the chapter and applied it to their lives.

Last night, I had no words.
This morning, no words.

Then I remembered this scripture passage.

That woman had suffered so much at the hands of the doctors to whom she went. In Mark 5, the Message said that the doctors took advantage of her and left her worse off than before.
She had gone for secular help and received none.

The nature of her illness caused her to be rejected and shunned by her community and by the religious leaders of the day.

As Lisa said, “Church is the one place we should feel the safest from judgment by our peers, yet it’s the very place we often experience the most rejection and legalism. Sadly, in many churches, grace is not always on the agenda.”

So many times through my life, from the time I became a Christian, I watched others around me, and learned to speak the right Christian phrases, and do the right Christian things, so I wouldn’t experience rejection or judgment from those around me. I wanted to be accepted. I wanted to be seen as a good Christian. Because I didn’t see anyone else struggling around me, for the most part, then I couldn’t possibly share any struggles I was having.

When there was a time that I couldn’t help but be real with a few people about some things going on in my life… the very people who had been instrumental in leading me to Christ became my judge, jury, and executioner. I never felt welcome in that fellowship again, even after I had dealt with my sin with God. I never felt welcome in the church I was in during that time either.

What I so loved about this story of the woman who was bleeding, suffering long term, is that it was instrumental in bringing me to Christ. It showed me that He would and could bless and accept anyone.

Now it is powerful for me because it has taken on new meaning as I have been healing. He desires to help those who are suffering long term. He really wants to see those who are hurting, who have been trying to hide inside what has been going on for such a long time. He want to see them, and wants them, us, to see Him. He wants us to be open with Him and pour out our hearts to Him. Just as the woman told Jesus everything that had happened to her.
Lisa asked a question about why it was so important for her to be open and vulnerable before him. I think it was for the very reason I referred to before.

Lisa said, “The power of an honest Christian, struggling as he or she may be in life, can break down some of the emotional walls people construct out of fear of rejection by sharing their own personal truth.”

That dear woman, who had been suffering terribly for years, fell before her Savior’s feet, and in front of that huge crowd, told her story. Who knows who was there who needed to hear her testimony? And she needed to hear that because she took a chance at trusting in Jesus, she could live whole and blessed.

I have struggled with the fear of rejection for so long, especially after having such a bad experience before when I was dealing with a very real sin and needed help not judgement. I needed someone to have the courage to come alongside and not tell me that the sin was ok, but to share their struggles, failures, and victories with me. To show me some hope.

I can tell you, through this whole process the past few years of my masks being pulled down, I have had people come alongside me and share their struggles with me. They were willing to be real with me, and not put up the perfect Christian front.

And that is what I want. I want to be able to be real with others. I want to be able to come alongside others with not only words of encouragement (which can feel like very empty platitudes unless backed up by something real) but also show them that I have been in tough places as well, that I can understand their troubles, and that I want to help as I can.

But more than anything, I want more of Jesus. I don’t want to put up a Ms. Spirituality front, because when I do, I am not being real with Jesus. I want to come before Him with fear and trembling, on my face before Him.

Even if I have had the faith that a touch of His robe would heal me; that there was more than enough power in Him to heal me as well as others; I have needed to come before Him and tell Him all about my problems and struggles, and I have had to do it in front of others as well. Because God knows who else can benefit from my testimony.

Laying at Jesus’ feet, I have needed to hear that my faith and trust in Him were well placed. I have needed to hear that I can walk away living whole and blessed. My life can be one that is all about the relationship with Him that is growing deeper day by day. I can have a true relationship with my Healer, with the Lover of my soul.

Lisa said, “He is seeking today what He had always been interested in getting from us: a relationship with Him that is pure of heart and motive, the only goal in mind being to honor Him by doing His will.”
“True spirituality is about the awesome power of God showing up in a person’s life to the point that people around her notice a difference.”
Oh God, I want my relationship with You to be all about Your love for me, and me doing Your with with a pure heart and motive. I want to be real with You and real with others, but I don’t want it to be about me. I don’t want my life to be about “doing things” for you, but all about my relationship with you. I want a purpose to come out of all the pain I have endured. But even if I never see it, see something tangible, it doesn’t matter. More than wanting to see a purpose I want more of You, Jesus. I want my heart to be pure, my motives to be pure. Oh Lord, I don’t want to bring attention to myself for the things I have gone through, or the things that I do. Please show me when I am using the gifts You have given me with the wrong motives. Show me and break me when I use anything I do, or anything I say to make myself look better. Bring me to repentance right away and humble me, Lord. I want all I do and say to bring glory and honor to You and You alone. Amen.


For those of you who want to read more post, visit Lelia’s blog. Or visit Lisa Whittle, the author of our book, “Behind Those Eyes.”

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