Category Archives: Devotionals

We Hide, But He Persists

Jesuswithchildstanding

I was reading my bible last night and the story of the woman who had been bleeding for 12 years (some versions read “issue of blood”) caught my eye. I read the story and didn’t really see anything new, but I had the sense that there was something there that went a little deeper that I needed to see. Here is the story from the Holman Christian Standard Bible-for your convenience: (Luke 8:42b-48)

While He was going, the crowds were nearly crushing Him. A woman suffering from bleeding for 12 years, who had spent all she had on doctors yet could not be healed by any, approached from behind and touched the tassel of His robe. Instantly her bleeding stopped. 
“Who touched Me?” Jesus asked. When they all denied it, Peter said,
“Master, the crowds are hemming You in and pressing against You.”
“Somebody did touch Me,” said Jesus. “I know that power has gone out from Me.”

When the woman saw that she was discovered, she came trembling and fell down before Him. In the presence of all the people, she declared the reason she had touched Him and how
she was instantly cured.

“Daughter,” He said to her, “your faith has made you well. Go in peace.”

As I read it the second time, the phrase that stuck out to me was “Somebody did touch Me.” I found it interesting that Jesus was not content with his disciples’ reassurances of, “It’s just so crowded in here, everybody’s touching you!” He persisted because He knew it was more than that. In my translation, there’s a footnote in verse 47 that adds something. The text says, “When the woman saw that she was discovered. . .” The footnote adds, “literally-that she had not escaped notice. . .” Ah, there it is. She didn’t want Jesus to notice her. She knew who He was and what He could do. She knew if she touched even the tassel at the hem of His robe, she would be healed. She just wanted to get her healing with the bare minimum of contact, and slink back through the crowd to her home, as quietly as possible.

How often do we come to Jesus in the same way? I know I do. I just want Him to fix this or that as quickly and painlessly as possible, without really taking the time to look into His face. Why is that? As I pondered this more and more, I realized that you can’t truly look into the face of Jesus without getting more than you bargained for. He will heal the broken places in your heart, but in return He wants your heart. He longs for a relationship with me, not just to hand out “quick fix” solutions so I can be on my merry way in life. He knows that to do that would be a disservice to me. I would “grow up” as the child who always got gifts from her parents, but never got to sit on their lap and bask in the deep, unconditional love that molds and makes a child into a well-rounded adult.

The other thing that holds us back is shame. We are ashamed of our sickness, our weakness, our inadequacies. We shrink back because we expect a reprimand or a slap on the hand that’s reaching for the cookie jar. But look at Jesus’ response to the woman when she finally does come forward:

Daughter. . .your faith has made you well. Go in peace.” Wow. There was no, “How dare you touch me without my permission!” or “Don’t you know you have to be saved to be healed?” He drew her out just because He wanted to see her face and wanted her to see His. Just a glimpse of the one who had been so desperate as to press in and touch Him without notice and then escape. He knew that if their eyes met, she would never be the same.

I challenge myself and anyone else who’s up for it this week to take the time to look into His eyes when we need something. Let Him decide how long to hold our gaze. We will walk away changed.

Isn’t It Enough?

photo by Bùi Linh Ngân

photo by Bùi Linh Ngân

This post has been rolling around in my heart for weeks now. I’ve sensed God using it to work something out in my heart, but I haven’t really understood exactly what He was doing. I still don’t know all, but I wanted to share some of what He’s shown me, stepping out in faith that someone else here may be struggling to understand a situation, and maybe. . .just maybe, this will speak to their heart as well.

At the end of February, I attended a Ladies’ Gathering in Atlanta, Georgia. I posted a bit about the main speakers and their messages. Overall, it was an awesome time, everyone I listened to had some great insight or wisdom, and I went away blessed. The one thing I didn’t post about at the time was the one statement that probably impacted me most over the whole weekend.

I attended a songwriting workshop, led by singer and songwriter, Shannon Wexelberg. She is a sweet, authentic young woman who inspires just by her personal story. During her workshop, she shared a testimony about a very difficult time in her life. She conceived a baby after many years of infertility, only to lose the child in an early miscarriage. She was naturally devastated, and for the first time in her life, she was angry with God. As she attempted to work through her emotions during that dark time, God spoke to her. He said simply, “If the cross is all I ever did for you, isn’t it enough?” She shared that she was humbled by that statement, and it led her back to a place of faith.

 As I sat there in her workshop, that simple statement hit me like a sucker punch to the stomach. During that busy weekend, I thought about it numerous times, but didn’t really have time to process what God was trying to work in me.

As I began to ponder exactly what that meant, I felt a transformation begin to occur in my heart. One of my biggest struggles has been understanding why God allows bad things to happen to His people. I don’t mean things like cars breaking down or large home repairs, I mean the big stuff like miscarriages, terminal or debilitating illness, and the deaths of children.

I know life happens to everyone, but something inside me has always felt like God should protect His children from the biggies. . .and that’s the place in my thought process where I froze. GOD SHOULD. My mind went back to the book of Job. If ever anyone had reason to resent God, Job did. God may not have caused his calamity, but He gave Satan permission to cause him pain. He lost everything-his children, his wealth, his health-and was left with the worst friends I’ve ever encountered as his comforters. They advised him to curse God and die, told him the whole thing was probably his fault somehow, and were just generally unhelpful (all except the one).

When all was said and done, did God apologize to Job for not protecting him and give him a “aww, poor Job” hug or pat on the back? Nope. Here are some of the words in God’s response to Job’s questioning that most speak to me: (found in Job 38)

“Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding. Who determined its measurements–surely you know! Or who stretched the line upon it? On what were its bases sunk, or who laid its cornerstone, when the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy? Or who shut in the sea with doors when it burst out from the womb, when I made clouds its garment and thick darkness its swaddling band, and prescribed limits for it and set bars and doors, and said, ‘Thus far shall you come, and no farther, and here shall your proud waves be stayed’?”

My first reaction to this verse? Ouch. God just asked Job, “Who are you to presume to understand My ways, or to think you’re ‘entitled’ to my protection?” That is a question that would make me want to run and hide in shame. The good news? God doesn’t stop there. He doesn’t leave us pounded into dust, wondering why we’re still alive-even Job’s story doesn’t stop there. We have a promise that gives us purpose, “And we know that for those who love God, all things work together for good. . .”(Romans 8:28) ALL things-even the really horrible ones.

This brings me back to what’s really been bouncing around in my heart. Why do I feel entitled to certain things as a child of God? Does He really owe me anything? I have found myself angry with Him because He didn’t do what I expected Him to do. He didn’t make it “all better.” He doesn’t intervene every time I go through a rough time, at least not in a tangible way. I think sometimes He eases the suffering behind the scenes, but I’m so wrapped up in my own agony, I miss it. The bottom line is, He fulfilled his promise to me on the cross. He took the punishment once and for all time for every sin I’ve ever committed, whether I meant to or not. He gave me the gift of eternal life when I’d done nothing to deserve it. If the cross is all He ever does for me, isn’t it enough?

 It should be, but my human heart is so afraid of pain. The truth is, the pain that I’ve suffered throughout my life has made me who I am today. Without pain, we fail to learn compassion. Without trials, we fail to learn how to persevere, and according to Romans 5:4, perseverance produces character and character, hope. Without the bad, painful parts of life, we would never learn to hope, or to appreciate the times when our joy is unspeakable and overwhelming. Would we truly appreciate springtime if we never experienced a winter? The joy I feel at welcoming my next child will be expanded by the loss I felt at losing the last one. I am not grateful for the loss, but I am grateful that my God saw me through, never let go of me, and has the power to bring beauty from my ashes. The character of God is good at all times. It doesn’t change depending on my circumstances.

 In the midst of all this heart remodeling, I found a song that I’ve learned has been out for a few years. I’ve never heard it till now. It’s called “Bring the Rain” by Mercy Me. I can’t listen to it without weeping because my faith is so challenged. The trust required to say “Jesus, bring the rain” is beyond where I am today, but I believe I’m getting there. There’s still a part of me that’s afraid to completely bare my tender heart before Him. I know He loves me, but will He be as careful with my heart as I want Him to be? I know there’s a freedom in that level of trust, and I know I can get there, but there’s a part of me that doubts His goodness. It’s hard to see His goodness in the middle of pain. My head knows it’s there but my heart is still searching for it.

 So I invite all my readers to ponder these truths. I’d love a lively dialogue on the topic, and I’m open to correction or challenge. It’s taken me weeks to muster the courage to post my thoughts, but I truly believe this is a step of faith in challenging myself to embrace the goodness of God. What are your thoughts?