Monday, October 27, 2008

Walking forward...Standing Straight

"Now he was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath. And there was a woman who had had a disabling spirit for eighteen years. She was bent over and could not fully straighten herself. When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said to her, 'Woman, you are freed from your disability.' And he laid his hands on her, and immediately she was made straight, and she glorified God. But the ruler of the synagogue, indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, said to the people, 'There are six days in which work ought to be done. Come on those days and be healed, and not on the Sabbath day.' Then the Lord answered him,'You hypocrites! Does not each of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or his donkey from the manger and lead it away to water it? And ought not this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan bound for eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath day?' As he said these things, all his adversaries were put to shame, and all the people rejoiced at all the glorious things that were done by him."~ Luke 13:10-17

I had the wonderful opportunity to lead a Bible study this week based on this passage. The concept here paints a beautiful picture for those who have been healed by the Lord. This is an issue of obedience-choosing God over our perception of this world, our circumstances, and our relationships. 

I'd like you to imagine for moment, if you will, that you were there on that day the woman was released from this spirit. You saw the way Jesus touched her, the miracle of her newly straightened back. And you saw the way she glorified God. This, of course touched you and you were among the people rejoicing in the many glorious things done by this Jesus. A week or so later, you're walking in town and you see that same woman. She has returned to her original, known stature. Shocked, you approach her and ask her what had happened. And she replies, "Oh, I'm just more comfortable this way, it's what I've always known. It's easier." What would be your response? 

If you're anything like me, I would challenge her. I would rebuke her. "Woman, you've been healed! Walk like it!" But as soon as those words were to come out of my mouth, I would have to reconcile myself to my pride and how many times I've gone about my day acting as if I have not been restored by His grace-healed by His power and blood. It is so easy to be weighed down by the ways of this life. A friend of mine who attended the study mentioned how the image of this woman was perfect...because when we focus on this earth, we, by default, lose site of Jesus. We're looking downward  when, as the psalmist says, we should lift our eyes. So what does this mean?

I could end it right here and say "Don't be negative, declare God's glory in all circumstances, and choose to be an instrument of His joy." But that would imply that we are capable of doing all of this within ourselves. And that is false. There is a reason that Jesus left us with the Helper-God, the Holy Spirit. For by His power, we can bear fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control. We have ACCESS to this power through Christ's sacrifice. So in the deepest and darkest of times, joy can still exist, because God exists. 

How do we walk through the hard times without the plastic smiles? Remembering that joy is not happiness. We don't have to respond to negative things with a cheer and jubilee. The psalms are dripping with cries of agony and pain. But as another gal pointed out-it always comes back to 1. Recognizing who God is and 2. praising Him for who He is. We don't be gleeful, but we do have to declare God's glory. There is a call to obedience where we must listen to the Word and do as it says (James 1:16-27). We must call upon the Lord in our weakness...counting the trials as joy for what is to come. 

Something else to note. It is NOT comfortable to walk in God's power initially. We associate so much with feelings, so it may not feel any different or better. In fact, returning to the old life may actually seem more beneficial to us. Allowing ourselves to just be in the murkiness. We enjoy the clouds around our heads...not because it feels good, but because it's easier. But, the result of walking straight up, eyes toward Christ, is peace-lack of chaos and strength. 

This is something I have to remind myself of a lot. I have been healed by the work of the Holy Spirit. My old and chaotic self has been crucified with Christ. He lives in me and I am His child. That is joy! But I am also a sheep-stupid and wandering. There's a great line in a song by 10th Avenue North that says, "Satisfy me, Lord of all. I begging you to help me see you're all I want, you're all I need. Oh, satisfy me, Lord." He helps us see that we have been healed...regardless of how we feel. 

We are different because of Jesus. And you can continue to be different by His power. "You have been healed...so walk like it."

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