These Moments are not our Last

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Jacob finds himself wandering in the wilderness, estranged from his family, alone and on the run. (Genesis 28)

Elijah flees to the mountains to escape the tyrant king and queen. He feels exiled as a wanted man. His faithfulness to God has put him in eminent danger. (1 Kings 19-20)

Daniel is cast into a pit of hungry lions, whose soul purpose is to rip criminals to shreds. But Daniel is no criminal. He is the unfortunate recipient of envy and hatred by other in the king’s court. (Daniel 6)

The Apostle Peter is imprisoned for doing what he believed was the call on his life to proclaim the gospel. (Acts 12)

You know what each of these stories have in common? They are examples of people in some of their lowest moments who got to experience the wonders of God. While Jacob was adrift in the wilderness, God showed up to renew His promise. While Elijah was trembling on the mountainside, God showed up in the wind to whisper His love once again. Surrounded by hungry lions, Daniel received a visit from the Angel of the Lord. The chains were loosed from Peter’s wrists and the prison gates flung open that night as God stepped in to rescue him.

These dark moments were not their last. Instead, they allowed each of these men to see and experience glorious things. Dear reader, I’m not sure where you are in your life. But if you’re desperate. If you feel like you’re drowning or suffering. There is always hope. God’s wonders may be right around the corner.  Keep praying. Keep praising. Keep hanging on. The Lord is with you where you are.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships,in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

2 Corinthians 12:9-10 NIV

Pouring out our soul

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But Hannah answered, “No, my lord, I am a woman troubled in spirit. I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but I have been pouring out my soul before the Lord.

1 Samuel 1:15 ESV

Have you ever been distressed to the point where your body aches? Have you ever wept bitterly because of loss or injustice? Have you felt a pain that could be described as your spirit being broken to pieces? Hannah did. She had been left barren, ridiculed by her peers, rejected in society, provoked, and deeply grieved. And this went on for years. If you find yourself relating to Hannah, either now or in the future, may I encourage you to do as she did? Fall at the feet of Jesus and pour out your soul. Don’t be afraid to weep and fast and pray for days, or months, or even years. A breakthrough is around the corner. The Lord is listening and He will act. It may not play out how you predetermined. But God always has your best interest in mind. Please allow your struggles and distress to draw you to Jesus, not drive you away because He’s already near.

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted
and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

Psalm 34:18 NIV

Peace brothers and sister. You are loved.

Do you really want to be made whole?

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After this there was a Jewish feast, and Yeshua went up to Jerusalem. Now in Jerusalem there is a pool by the sheep gate, called Bethzatha in Aramaic, which has five porches. In these a crowd of invalids was lying around—blind, lame, disabled.

Now a certain man had been an invalid there for thirty-eight years. Seeing him lying there and knowing he had been that way a long time, Yeshua said to him, “Do you want to get well?

The invalid answered Him, “Sir, I have nobody to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up. While I’m trying to get in, somebody else steps down before me!”

Yeshua tells him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk!”

Immediately, the man was healed! He took up his mat and started walking around. Now that day was Shabbat, so Judean leaders were saying to the man who was healed, “It’s Shabbat! It’s not permitted for you to carry your mat.”

But he answered them, “The man who made me well told me, ‘Pick up your mat and walk.’”

They asked him, “Who is the man who told you, ‘Pick up your mat and walk’?” But the man who had been healed didn’t know who it was, for Yeshua had slipped away into the crowd in that place.

Afterwards, Yeshua finds him in the Temple. He said to him, “Look, you’ve been healed! Stop sinning, so nothing worse happens to you.” The man left and told the Judean leaders that it was Yeshua who had made him well.

John 5:1-15 (TLV) [my emphasis]

 Do you want to get well? The only thing that stands in our way of being freed from addiction, anger, depression, lust, and the like, is whether or not we want to be free of it. Jesus offers wholeness to everyone but not everyone will choose it. It seems ridiculous that someone would choose to not be whole. But sin is a choice that people make. Staying in sin is no different. The man’s desire to be made well is what brought him to the pool time after time. His desire to be made whole is what put him in the place to meet Jesus and experience His liberation. But if someone doesn’t really want to be made whole, to give up that addiction, to experience freedom, then they won’t. Jesus has never forced someone to choose freedom and wholeness. But He offers it freely to all who are willing.

Get up! To live in freedom takes action on our part. Once Jesus speaks healing over us we can’t lay by the pool any longer. We need to move. This man couldn’t walk for over three decades. Then Jesus said, “get up!” When Jesus replaces our anxieties with peace, we walk in that peace. We don’t go back to the pool of anxious thoughts. When Jesus crushes the chains of addiction, we walk as though we are no longer addicts. 

Immediately, the man was healed! Sure, healing can take time. But wholeness can also come in an instance. To say otherwise is to say that Jesus’ power was great enough to make a lame man walk but not give me joy in the place of my anger. It’s saying Jesus can create the world in 6 days but He cannot replace my depression with hope. If we want to be well, we can be with one word from His mouth. 

 “It’s Shabbat! It’s not permitted for you to carry your mat.” The path to our being made well will often be met with resistance from people around us, sometimes from those closest to us. When I made the decision to no longer drink alcohol seven years ago, I had several people try to talk me out it. People often attack what they don’t understand or what may even make them feel conviction. But we can never let the words of people unravel in our hearts what Jesus has already spoken over us. 

“Look, you’ve been healed! Stop sinning, so nothing worse happens to you.” We hold the key to the longevity of our wholeness. I admit I’ve been set free only to walk back into the filth again. When Jesus makes us new, He makes us white as snow. He doesn’t wash us clean so that we can go back to playing in the mud. 

I too am the crippled man at the pool. I want to be the healed man who takes up his mat in the newness of life. I have heard my savior say, “get up and walk my child.” I am so thankful that He came to meet me at my pool of Bethzatha (Bethesda) which happens to mean the pool of mercy. Be encouraged my brothers and sisters because He has come to meet you in your hurt and struggles as well. His question is the same to all of us: “do you want to be well?”