"The unalterable basis of an open heaven is a grave, and a crisis at which you can come to an end of your own self-life. It is the crisis of real experiential identification with Christ in His death."
Scripture Reference: Mark 3: 1-6
Jesus is not a fan of "red tape." His M.O. on any given day is "to give light to those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death."--Notwithstanding the Pharisee rulebook which clearly defines when the light of God can lawfully shine.
In full submission to his Father, Jesus enters the synagogue on a Sunday and straight away notices a man with a withered hand. The Pharisees give him the stink-eye and watch to see if He hooks the man up with a new hand and thereby breaks a rule.
I imagine it like this:
Jesus to the withered-hand-guy: Come here. And while you're at it, stretch out your hand.
Withered-hand-guy: Wait, what?
The Pharisees: Hold up, Rule-breaker! It's the Sabbath!
Jesus to the Pharisees: "Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do evil, to save a life or kill" (Mark 3:4)?
Jesus basically says to the Pharisees: I'm aware. But are you so attached to your rules for rest that you would call an effort to do a man good on the Sabbath, evil? (Crickets chirp in the background.)
Verse 5: "Jesus looks around at them in anger, being grieved by the hardness of their hearts," and says to the withered-hand-guy, "Stretch out your hand." So the man extends his little California-raison-hand out to the rule-breaking Messiah, and booya (!), his hand is restored.
After church, the Pharisess meet up with some other folks who also hate Jesus and plot to destroy Him as they sip sweet tea and wait for their lunch to be served. I imagine they were lousy tippers.
This story is a practical illustration of how we can unknowingly hinder our healing in the very presence of our Healer. If the man had been too afraid to do as Jesus insructed, he would have inadvertently rejected the miralce of restoration.
The early church recognized the phrase: stretch out your hands as a prelude to death by crucifixion.This is serious business. When the man stretched out his hand to receive restoration, he died to the belief that it was unlawful to be healed on the Sabbath. Jesus killed two legalistic birds with one stone that day.
The Pharisees relied on their laws for protection--and healing. Rules made them feel safe and in control. It's human nature to attempt to create and control our own restoration. Healing from abuse and truamatic betrayal is frightening and painful. But when quick emotional fixes take the place of trusting God's instruction, we refuse our own repair.
Do you need to die to an old belief to receive the miracle of restoration?
- I need to be drunk to face the pain of my childhood.
- I need a new dress to feel beautiful.
- I need to be in a romantic relationship to feel loved.
- I need a new car to feel valuable.
- I need to hurt you before you hurt me.
- I need to _______________________.
If you're not ready to give up drinking or dresses or dudes or whatever it is you do to get from one day to the next, will you consider inviting His Holy Spirit into your everyday choices?
I know this sounds a little nutty, but you might be surprised by the outcome. In 1991, I was raising a six-month-old baby and two young boys, alone. I'd had a *"terrible, horrible, no good, very bad-day," and all I wanted was a stiff drink. I locked myself in the bathroom and cried out to God: Please calm my nerves the way I know for a fact a shot of vodka would.
His peace I received. Know what else? If I had opted to drink, He wouldn't have condemned me.
"There is now therefore no condemantion in Christ Jesus" (Romans 8:1).
How about it? Will you stretch out your hand? The one that holds the drink, or the dress, or the hand of a man who cannot possibly heal you--sweet as his kisses may be.
We all have a little California-raison-hand in need of restoration. Are we willing to die to the old belief that what we hold in that hand is life-giviing?
"He feeds on ashes; a deceived heart has turned him aside, and he cannot deliver his soul, nor say, 'Is there not a lie in my right hand'" (Isaiah 44:20)?
It's a good day to die--to live!
We get better together,
*from the book Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.
Published on Tuesday, February 26, 2019 @ 5:37 AM CDT
I totally forgot to blog on Valentine's Day this year! [From my excerpts]:
I've had complex feelings about Valentine's Day most of my adult life. I was married to a recovering addict for many years. Relapses were certain to occur Christmas Eve (my birthday), Christmas Day, and New Years Eve. There was never enough time to heal and forgive before Valentine's Day rolled around. Subsequently, I developed a habit of rolling my eyes in February when heart-shaped balloons hung from market ceilings. Can't a girl buy a gallon of milk in peace!
Fast forward to my last Valentine's Day as a married woman. My brother was visiting from L.A.. My husband had just returned from camping (allegedly) when he took me aside to say, "I'll be moving out. Not to worry. God told me He will send someone to take my place."
Um, Okay. I swallowed the pain; stufffed the humilation, and in typical doormat fashion, cooked a beautiful dinner for my family. I didn't have the heart to not give him a gift on this special day, so I purchased a box of Girl Scout Cookies. Thin mints. The cookie of champions. (I have a great deal of compassion for the woman I once was.)
I've only dated one man since my divorce. He was very charming. Too charming, and the relationship ended abruptly after 4-ish months. Who gets dumped five days before Valentine's Day? Yours truly. Naturally, Valentine's Day threw up all over the city that year. It practically rained heart-shaped balloons.
The saving grace in this scenario is that God created me with considerable stores of humor. Laughter is a gift. And crying. The curse is to be numb. (I've been that, too.) So I schelped my sad-self to Sports Academy, where I purchased a volleyball and later painted to look like Wilson from the movie Cast Away. (Tom Hanks is stranded on an island for four years and creates a make-shift friend out of a volleyball and names it Wilson, of course.)
Me and Wilson. Going strong since 2015. Not to brag, but he's an actor. "Perhaps you saw his work in Top Gun and Cast Away." (Funny qutoe I saw on facebook.)
This year on Valentine's Day, my heart warms when I reunite with Wilson. And nothing is more fun than sharing that story with other women. That silly volleyball is a gift that keeps on giving. What could have been a lasting "bad" memory has morphed into something I now find hilarious. Know what I did today? I bought myself a box of thin mints. Oh yes I did!
The past two years go unparalleled in what God's shown me about loving myself. It began with a prayer: Father in heaven, In the name of Christ, I ask for the greatest gift of all . . . A love that allows me to be at ease with myself when life isn't' easy.
God commands us to love others as we love ourselves. But do we really know what this means? The take away for me is that the will of God always begins within. The question isn't what shall I do next, but rather, will I yield to the Love who resides within me and allow Him to shape me in such a way that the desires of my heart are fulfilled naturally.
This Valentine's Day, cry if you must. But allow room for laughter. Ask God to give you something to laugh about if you're going solo.
Let God love you so you can get on with the business of loving others as you love yourself.
Mark 12:30-31; The greatest commandment.
"Love the Lord your God will all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself."
Peace out Bohemians!
Published on Friday, February 22, 2019 @ 10:57 AM CDT