Monday, October 24, 2011

Leper-Like Faith

This morning's reading comes from Luke 17:11-19.  Please stand for the Word of God. 

Ha!  Sorry, just have always wanted to say that.  Well, I guess I have said it, once, but I was so nervous to stand up in front of the whole congregation, I nearly got sick. (It was probably a reaction to the pride I had for being "chosen" to read the Scripture that Sunday, but that's another story.)  I did it, got through it I should say, but they haven't asked me to read since.  ;)

I never know where reading a passage from The Bible is going to take me.  Usually, it feels like The Lord hand-picked a precious, juicy bit straight from His Heavenly vine that speaks directly to what is going on in my life.  This morning, the reading from Luke 17 was no exception.

Ah - the 10 lepers.  I get this.  You see, I've got a group of people that I'm involved with, who all share the same problem.  We have different specifics, but the same overall problem.  Trial and suffering.  It's been a tough year for each of us - made more so because we are in such close company.  We feel set apart from the crowd and not in a good way.  We feel isolated by our circumstances and, baring a miracle from Heaven, cannot change them even if we tried.  

If you have ever felt that way, go with me as I am putting myself in the story today.....Picture the scene with me.....
Jesus is walking, moving, working & teaching.  He is on His way home, walking with a group of disciples and passing through our town.  Here we stand, together, all of us with our shared issue.  We have to group together, for whatever comfort we can find.  It is clear to all of us that we gotta take a chance if we are ever going to get out of this.
We hear the rumor that He is on His way.  We talk amongst ourselves about what we are going to do.  And at last we see Him.  Some of us are more desperate for healing than others, but we are all at enough of a loss we are willing to approach.  He can't touch us, or our problems will infect Him.  We expect disdain at least, rocks at most.  But we've heard so much about the miracles and mercy this Teacher has had on others like us.  So, as a group, we decide to risk it.

We stand at a distance, crying out for His intervention, but not feeling worthy enough to come any closer.  I find myself crying; screaming; yelling for His deliverance.  Does He hear me?  Does He see me?  Does He know or understand what we have and are going through? 
I'm standing, begging, pleading while I wait.  I can only hope one of us in the group believes enough because I know my belief is incomplete.  I know I've lost touch with His power and I can only ask to be connected again.

Suddenly, He looks our way.  The Message translation says, "He takes a good look" - at us.   

In that moment, I feel known past the pain, past the hurt, past the wounds.  Someone has finally seen my heart - the good, bad & ugly of it.  But He doesn't turn away.  He hears me!  He sees me!  He knows that I want to be with Him, more than anything; beyond the results I know He can provide.  But I admit to Him and myself what He can do for me is part of why I am seeking Him.  I seek Him because only He can soothe all parts of my wounded person - the physical, mental and spiritual.   

Only He can make me whole.
And He does.  

But first He tells me to do something.  We must all follow His instruction for complete healing.  He leaves that up to us.  Will we trust and obey?  How far will we each take this desire for Him?  How far will I go to show Him my faith?
We all obey and we are all healed.  Our obedience doesn't trigger His healing - He could/would heal us regardless.  But it builds my faith and the re-established connection I have with Him.  He shows me that, while He doesn't need my participation, He wants it.   

He might already know what I'm going to say - but He still wants to hear me say it.
The last part of the story has the one Samaritan leper that was part of the group, turning back to thank Jesus.  The Only One.  It makes me sad to read that.  I pray that when I see His deliverance, I'll be like that guy.  I hope and pray I will always acknowledge where the provision and blessing of my life comes from.  But it makes me sad to think not everyone gives glory to The One it ought to be given to.   

So, all I can pray is that my life will be a reminder to others so they, too, will turn back to thank God.  I had to learn it from watching others do it, so I hope others learn it from me. 

David Guzik, in his commentary on Luke 17, states that the Samaritan leper who came back to thank Jesus got extra healing.  His heart was made whole through His faith in Christ.  When he turned back to declare Who had healed him, his hope was assured.  I want to think maybe He got  the Holy Spirit on Pentecost.  Maybe he became a disciple or even a missionary.  I do know he got purpose, when he turned back.  I believe that when Jesus does a work of healing in your life, He brings you into the plan of restoring Creation.  At that moment, He makes you a worker for His Kingdom. 
He always has a greater purpose; we just have to choose to take Him up on the offer.  We've got to open our hearts and lives to His sovereignty like the 10th leper did.  And do it every day.
What has seeing myself in this story showed me?  Despite our circumstances full of trial, I'm going to call out to The One & Only, because Christ is doing something about them.  I'm going to obey what He says and I'm going to thank God in advance for the answers I can't yet see.  Then, my heart is healed; my anxiety replaced with peace and my hope renewed.

Let me know how you saw yourself in the story!  I can't wait to hear it!!

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