Sunday, December 30, 2012

Big 'ole Ugly Tree

I remember a day a few weeks ago when my four year old son fell and skinned his knee. He came to me crying and looking for comfort from his mama. But when I tried to look at it to clean and bandage it, he hid his knee from me and wouldn't let me see it. The Lord reminded me of this a week or two after it happened, and just like He has done so many times with my kids, he taught me some things about myself.
I have wounds that I have hidden from the Lord just like my son hid his wound from me. I have trusted people in my life and given them my heart, but in return they have hurt me and caused me pain which has left me guarding my bruised, wounded heart. I have kept it hidden out of fear; fear of being hurt again, and fear of anyone knowing that it is even there. These wounds were caused from other people sinning against me. They were not wounds that I did anything to cause nor did I deserve them. But I was still afraid to uncover my wounds and let my Great Physician tend to them.
So I kept them covered.
And just like an open wound that is not tended to, my wounds just got worse. Infection set in and I grew hard and calloused. I wouldn't let anyone near me, and like a wounded animal growls at the person who tries to help it, I would snap at those who loved me the most.
Then desire when it is conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death. James 1:15
People had allowed their desires to give birth to sin in my life and as that sin grew, I was slowly dying inside. Because of that sin that was (figuratively) birthed into me by other people, a tree was growing in me that was producing the fruit of more sin. The fruit of the Spirit of God is spoken of in Galatians 5:13 and that is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control. This is not what was coming from my life. My life more closely matched the verses that come before that list, and what I could identify in those verses that was sprouting forth in my life was hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, dissension, and envy. So even though I was going to church and I appeared to be a "good Christian girl" my life was not the model of what Christ wants for His followers. In fact if you read on in Galatians it says that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. OUCH! Because I refused to let Jesus cleanse my sins, I was keeping myself from such an enormous blessing: God's Kingdom. God wants me to be His little princess in His Kingdom, but I can't do that with a huge tree of sin growing out of my heart.
So finally I let go of it and Jesus removed that tree. He even dug deep to remove the roots that had pushed their way into every area of my life. Jesus died on a tree to remove the sins from my life that were producing bad fruit so that I could be grafted into His Family Tree!
I am the vine and you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit. John 15:5
After He did this He began to whisper to my heart to forgive those who had originally hurt me. "What? Why God? Forgive them?? But what they did was horrible, how can I forgive them?" was my reply. Then he reminded me that our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the powers of this dark world as is says in Ephesians 6:12. And the hurt that I received was due to the sins that were committed against them that had given birth to death and bad fruit in their lives, too. He told me that if I could forgive them that it would do a number of things:
1. Release me from the pain that it caused me every time I thought about it.
2. Allow me to pray for them and develop a love for them.
3. Stop this continuous cycle of hurt from happening to others.
4. He showed me that forgiveness does not excuse what they did. What they did was sin and it was wrong, but it allows me to have peace to know that God is in control and that He will work all things together for my good as it says in Romans 8:28.
Through forgiveness I have found so much peace. I have begun to love people in my life in a way I didn't think I could. There are still some who have hurt me that I keep at a healthy distance and until I see a healing in their lives they will stay there, but I am no longer angry or hurt by them. They don't control me or cloud my view of my King. I now produce the Good Fruit and His Light is able to shine in me and through me.
Do you have a big ugly sin tree growing in your life? Are you chained by unforgiveness? Ask Him to deliver you and He is so faithful, He will do it!!
For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son so that whosoever should believe in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. John 3:16

Friday, December 21, 2012

The Touch

I have been thinking a lot lately about the woman who touched the hem of Jesus' garment. It keeps getting brought to my attention. I have been praying for wisdom about healing so I feel that the fact that I keep hearing about it or being reminded about it is very important. I like what Bill Johnson says about it in "Hosting the Presence", that basically she raised the healing bar. No one had been healed by touching fabric until that point; it had never been done before. She had so much faith in Jesus that I don't think it occured to her that it may not work. She was so focused on Jesus that she had no doubt.
This morning as I was meditating on this, I was picturing myself as this woman kneeling next to Jesus, trying to imagine what her thoughts would have been like, or what my thoughts would be if I were in her situation. She was an outcast because at that time Jews saw blood as "unclean." She must have felt unworthy to stand up and face Jesus because she knew she was unclean. She had been shunned by religious leaders in her local temple because they had to undergo cleansing rituals each time they touched anything deemed unclean. It was too much work.

Everyone in her community knew about her. They had no television, no Directv, cable, or internet. There was no American Idol or Facebook to keep them entertained. Everyone knew every detail about each other because that WAS their entertainment. They knew about her condition. They knew if they were caught associating with her they would have to go to the temple and go through all the cleansing rituals that were expected of them. It was inconvenient.

I know this is extremely silly, but it reminds me of the "cheese touch" from one of my kids favorite movies, Diary of a Wimpy Kid. In this movie, if one of the kids at Greg Heffley's school touched this piece of dried up moldy cheese that was left on the ground at recess the kids would yell, "He's got the cheese touch," and suddenly no one would go near this unfortunate kid. I know this is such a silly comparison, but its human nature isn't it? Have you ever had something happen to you that made you unpopular or stand out in a crowd? It hurts, doesn't it? And once a person is labeled with something by society, its hard to undo that. Its hard to change people's perception of a person once they have been deemed unworthy.

So this is the woman who touched Jesus: unclean and unpopular. She tried to do it secretly without anyone knowing. "If I can only touch the edge of his robe, i will be free," she may have been thinking. "No one will notice"

But Jesus noticed.

Praise God, Jesus noticed! He knew exactly who touched him, but He took the time to single her out. He didnt have to ask the crowd who it was any more than God had to ask where Adam was in the garden. He wanted to lift her up and recognize her in front of the crowd. He was so respected and revered by the masses, he knew that if he recognized her and lifted her up in front of her community, the people who had once shunned her would now accept her. The stigma that she once had of being unclean would be washed away.

Kinda like if the most popular kid in school would have befriended the "cheese touch" kid.
She humbly sought Jesus' healing and He not only healed the issue of blood, he healed her emotionally by reconciling her place in the community because he talked to her face to face, something I am sure none of the religious leaders would have done. He took an outcast and made her so very special. He made her His equal. THAT is why He came to this earth. We are joint heirs, God looks at us exactly the same way He looks at Jesus and he loves the dirty broken ones just as much as the shiny perfect ones (maybe a little bit more).

So I say to YOU, "GET READY!" Get ready to be lifted up when you humbly come before Him. Focus your eyes on Him so that you will have no doubt that you will be touched and changed. Get ready for Him to wash you clean and bring you to a position where you are his equal, a child of the Living God, joint heir with Christ.