Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Healer at Heart

Andrew, Simon, James and John…fishermen.  They knew mending nets, they knew when to go out in the boat and on which side of the boat to throw the net, they knew how to haul in the full net.  And one day, their lives were radically changed.  This man…this God…he came into their little corner of the world and turned it upside down.  He knew them…and still loved them.  He spoke words of life.  He challenged them.  Sometimes, they found themselves at a loss; Jesus’ words could be difficult to understand.  Jesus once asked these men if they wanted to leave him (like the others who were deserting when his words were difficult).  Simon Peter wisely replied, “Lord, to whom would we go?  You have the words that give eternal life.  We believe, and we know you are the Holy One of God.” (John 6:68-69)  

Yet, the way to stick with Jesus was not always obvious.  After Jesus’ death and resurrection, things were particularly confusing.  After years of traveling with Jesus and doing all kinds of fascinating and new things, they returned to what they knew: fishing.  Was Jesus disappointed in them?  I don’t think so.  As he stood on the shore, he advised that the men throw their net on the right-hand side of the boat…and they caught 153 large fish!  Oh the thrill!  Jesus must have deeply understood these men.  

But, was Jesus trying to make them great fishermen?  No, and yes!  He understood the fabric of these men: they were fishermen.  And, Jesus assigned them to keep fishing: but for men now.  He took their natural talents and passions and he expanded them for spiritual service.  What did this mean?  From my reading of the Scripture, this meant travel, this meant jail time, this meant persecution, this meant being misunderstood…and this meant hope that does not disappoint, this meant experiencing miracles, this meant seeing lives turned around, this meant healing, this meant contentment, this meant living a challenging life of purpose and satisfaction.  Even if it meant a cruel death at the end this earthly life (just like their Master), it meant the peace and courage to endure, knowing they would inherit eternal life and goodness beyond their wildest imaginations.  These men lived out their earthly lives as fishermen—it was the fabric of who they were—with purposes only fully understood in heaven.

Fast forward many centuries…there was this girl who dreamed of becoming a doctor at the tender age of twelve.  She was a hard worker and she excelled in academics.  She worked many jobs along the way so that she could have the privilege of getting a medical degree.  She thought that she would be a high wage earner one day and leave the class of working poor, where she spent her childhood.  Something wonderful happened along the way in this worldly plan: she met Jesus Christ who convinced her that His way of living was the way that she wanted to live.  So, she finished that medical degree, so that she could go to the ends of the earth and serve people in need (those who experienced a poverty that she had never known).  This was a wonderful experience, working alongside her missionary husband and raising four fun-loving sons.  

Then, one day, everything changed.  The door closed on the “ends-of-the earth” opportunity, and she found herself unable to sustain the practice of medicine as ministry in her home country (while wanting to invest deeply in her husband’s and sons’ lives).  Now, her licensure slips away.  Her search for new work in medicine has yielded nothing, and she believes this to be God’s will for her.  She still loves medicine; healing seems to be the fabric of her being.  

Could it be that God is calling Kimberly not to laboratory tests and prescriptions but to a different kind of healing, with spiritual impact?  Am I healing when I take a friend’s mother to the neurologist?  Am I healing when I listen to and counsel college students?  Am I healing when I care for my neighbor’s children, or walk with a friend through her husband’s alcoholism?  I believe that I was fashioned to bring healing, health, and restoration, as one of God’s many instruments.  The power comes from Him and I let it flow through me in a new domain.  This time, it is not in a societally/worldly recognized format.  But I live to please God, who is Spirit.  And as I do this, the world might not understand.  He has seen fit to notice me, to use me, to bring goodness to this world through me.  May all that He has purposed with my life come to pass, to the praise of His Name!

Our home group is studying some of the writings of Francis of Assisi.  Last night’s passage really captured my attention:
Be careful that you do not adopt the world’s manner when it
comes to being ‘wise.’  The world tells us we must be careful to
see to our own interests first, to plan all that we say and do
cautiously, so that in loving and giving to others we do not give
up anything that is ‘rightfully’ ours.  May God forbid that we
call this ‘wise,’ when it is nothing but worldly and selfish calculation!
As God’s sons and daughters, we should be without the kind of
guile that gives to others only when it will mean a good return in
some way for us.  We should seek, before God, to be His humble
servants, pure in our heart’s desire to give and do, just as He
directs us….
God’s Spirit will come to rest upon you, and upon anyone who
will live this way, enduring to the last the constant temptation to
live for yourself alone (Isaiah 11:2).  The Father has promised
that if we obey His command to love others, He and His Son,
our Lord Jesus, will come and make their home with us and
dwell with us forever (John 14:21-23).  Moreover, we will be seen
and known as children of the heavenly Father because it will be
obvious to all that we are busily, faithfully doing His work and not
seeking our own ends (Matthew 5:45) (A Day in Your Presence,
Devotional Readings Arranged by David Hazard, pp. 41-42)

This passage challenges me at my core.  It begs the question of why I have struggled in letting go of my employment.  Yet, I see that I continue to work in this world.  God provides this work.  I do not look for it.  It comes my way.  And when I respond, through healing service, I am filled with joy.  Thanks be to God!

Finally, I was looking at the Psalms today, and Psalm 84 caught my eye.  Here are some excerpts:
What joy for those whose strength comes from the LORD…
When they walk through the Valley of Weeping, it will become
a place of refreshing springs…
They will continue to grow stronger…
A single day in your courts is better than a thousand
anywhere else!
I would rather be a gatekeeper in the house of my God
than live the good life in the homes of the wicked.
For the LORD God is our sun and our shield.
He gives us grace and glory.
The LORD will withhold no good thing from those who do
what is right.
O LORD of Heaven’s Armies, what joy for those who trust in you.

Next to this Psalm, in my Bible, I found written: “2014.”  I think that year was my “valley of weeping.”  And now I see this valley as a “place of refreshing springs.”

(Much of the above pondering has been fleshed out with the help of a wise and godly counselor.  I am thankful that God has captured this man’s heart and that he shares what he has learned from the Master with people like me.)

Gratefully, a daughter of the King of kings,
full of joy, still a healer at heart,