Large crowds followed Jesus as he came down the mountainside. Suddenly, a man with leprosy approached him and knelt before him. “Lord,” the man said, “if you are willing, you can heal me and make me clean.” Matthew 8:1-2
One of the main signs of leprosy is numbness. You stop having feeling in certain areas. The lack of feeling means you can’t tell when your body is being hurt whether in small ways or extremely damaging ways. In this strange way, pain is what you long for – to feel pain means you are experiencing healing…LIFE! You don’t find many praying for pain, but the leper most assuredly would.
This morning I realized – well, I’ve thought this before, so I talked with DAD about it once more – I have lived a whole lot of life a spiritual leper. I’ve tried to keep pain at a distance. This way of life means I’ve forfeited trying new things; I’ve stuck with things I’m naturally good at because to have to learn something means I may fail in the process. Commitment is hard for me to agree to because it means I’ll have to endure it all – the highs, the lows, the wonderful, and the extremely painful. Yet, this is what my life in Christ has required of me. This is what my life in the church and for THE CHURCH has demanded of me. Plainly, simply put: Jesus asks nothing of me He isn’t willing to do Himself, and He gave His whole life for me and for you…for His Church, His Bride.
I’ve had some things break my heart in the past 21 years of being His, and each time I had to decide if I was going to callous over my heart or allow it to fully feel. I’ve chosen both scenarios at different times. One gave me an instant bandaid but no long-term healing. The other allowed me to feel excruciating pain for a time but strengthened my heart for the long haul. The one left me with nothing more to offer; the other filled me with more of His love to offer genuinely and generously to others.
We fool ourselves when we think real love and faithfulness is keeping one from all pain and hardship. Hey, I wish it worked that way; I’m a mom! I’ve had to walk with my kids through more heartache and heartbreak and appalling circumstances the past two years than I ever wanted to. But I remain absolutely grateful that Nathan and I have been here to walk with them through it! There will come a day when we won’t have the opportunity to walk so closely with them as they face the abundant life Jesus places before them, but while I can, I will. They will not stand alone when friends betray, when temptation is placed before their eyes, when sin breaks them wide open, when they feel different and alone, when they struggle more than they overcome. They will not stand alone because I will extend to them the same love and “ever present help” my Jesus has offered me. I will experience that pain to the fullest with them because my Jesus does the same for me. And it is this same love I want to extend to all God places before me.
He did not apologize for my heartache; even better, He shared it. He knew…He called me to this and because He gave His life for me. This means that it has been granted to me, it is my privilege not only to believe in Him but also to suffer for Him…That suffering is not alone, but is with Him, and oh, what a privilege it is just to be able to be in His presence, to share that with my sweet Savior…He loved me first; I love Him back. And sometimes it hurts. But even then it is pure joy to even be considered worthy to share in His suffering. That is the promise: not that He is sorry that it hurts, but that He sees; that He knows; that He is here with us. ~Katie Davis Majors
I am desperate to have my heart love so much, so deep, that it very well might actually break. The breaking heart is a the living, loving heart.
Jesus reached out and touched him. “I am willing,” he said. “Be healed!” And instantly the leprosy disappeared. Matthew 8:3