Lately, I've been so sedentary that last night I promised myself that I'd ride my bike through our neighborhood this morning. It's not a lot of exercise, but it's better than nothing and it gets my blood moving. It also provides a little much-needed quiet time.
I was only half-way through my typical route when I began focusing on how hard it was. "Man," I thought, "I know I haven't ridden my bike in two weeks, but it shouldn't be this strenuous." The weight of my legs seemed to triple with every push of the pedals. My breath became labored. Feeling a sense of defeat, disappointed that I wouldn't finish my course, I cast my eyes down. That's when I discovered two flat tires.
I quickly turned home knowing I wouldn't make it much further, not to mention it's bad for the wheels to ride a bike with flat tires. That's when the analogy hit me. "Isn't this like the spiritual life? We don't get very far on "flat tires."
How often have I started coasting in my walk with Christ, like a bike effortlessly breezing downhill, because the previous time I invested in our relationship was enough to sustain me? Life is good, there's more joy, more peace, less agitation, less anxiety. You begin to think life will remain that way. Then you hit level pavement. You coast a little further. Then a hill (like cancer, divorce, job loss, death of a loved one) surprises you and there's no steam left to get you back up again. Eventually, you return to what worked before...dedicated prayer time, daily scripture reading, little talks with God throughout the day, and seeking the Holy Spirit's guidance... and wonder why you ever stopped to begin with. Why is there a tendency to stop pedaling?
The weight of the trials in life can become crushing when we neglect to fill our "spirit tanks" with the things of God. A lack of discipline unnecessarily complicates and tarnishes our days. Jesus said he came that we might have life, and that we might have it more abundantly. Life is GOOD! Or at least it should be.
If you've been away from God, I encourage you to get back on track. Get excited that the God of the universe wants to spend time with you! He desires to guide your steps!
I became energized as I neared home this morning, knowing I'd fill my tires and biking would become easier and more pleasurable again. If you determine to strengthen your relationship with Christ, your life is going to become more pleasurable and fulfilling, too. Get pumped and ready for the ride of your life!
Why does Jesus physically heal some people and not others? I think that’s a question we all eventually wrestle with, in particular when we, or a loved one, or a child is ill and our prayers for healing seem to go unanswered. It’s a question that re-entered my mind as I read today’s Gospel passage from the Catholic daily Mass readings. I think it hints at why Jesus chooses to heal or not.
First, let me share the passage with you.
"As soon as they left the synagogue, they went with James and John to the home of Simon and Andrew.
There are a few key things I’d like to point out from this passage.
#1 Jesus Answers the Prayers of Others
Simon’s mother-in-law did not ask for healing for herself, that we’re aware of. BUT James, John, Simon, and Andrew did. They are the ones who took Jesus to the woman to rid her of her fever, in much the same way that the friends of the cripple confined to a mat lowered him through a roof to get in the presence of Jesus for healing. Remember that story? Blessed are those of us who have friends that will intercede for us when we’re in need of a touch from the Master. Never stop praying for your friends or loved ones.
#2 Jesus Doesn’t Heal All
Did you notice the use of the words “all” vs. “many” in the provided verses? People brought to Jesus ALL the sick and demon-possessed. It doesn’t say SOME but ALL. Every last one with leprosy, cancer, stomach ailments, deformities, etc… came to Jesus. I’m sure some of those people were already convinced Jesus was the Messiah and had high expectations that they’d be healed while others were just curious if he was truly a miracle worker sent by God. Nonetheless, the entire town gathered and what does scripture say? He healed MANY of those with various diseases and drove out MANY demons. Not ALL. If he was capable of driving out some, certainly he was capable of driving out ALL. So why didn’t he? That’s the million dollar question, isn’t it? I think the following verses give us a tiny glimpse into the answer.
#3 Jesus Came Not to Heal, But for Our Salvation.
The day after some people undoubtedly rejoiced over the renewal of their health while others struggled with disappointment, wondering why they were no better off than before they encountered the Savior, Jesus left to pray. The people followed him and I can just envision some were those he declined to heal. Can’t you hear it? “Jesus, you healed my neighbor, but what about me? Don’t you care?” But Jesus told the disciples, “Let’s go somewhere else so I can preach, that is why I have come.” Jesus was on a mission from the Father to help people understand the Kingdom of God. To help them understand what was necessary for salvation. I truly believe what scripture tells us, that God works ALL (there’s that word again) things together for our good – and the greatest good is that we receive salvation, to avoid the fires of Hell and to spend eternity with him. And it’s my belief that if withholding healing from us is what causes us to draw closer to him, and to draw OTHERS closer to him, then that is what he’ll do. THE GREATEST GOOD IS FOR OUR SOULS TO REACH HEAVEN.
Of course, there are other scriptures about healing that point to the importance of having faith as well as wanting to be healed. But know it’s never our faith alone, it must be coupled with God’s will for our life. Ultimately, we must TRUST him (trust is my word for 2019) to do what is best with our heart-felt petitions, knowing he loves us and our loved ones more than we do.
"For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life." ~ John 3:16
What a comfort that when Jesus chooses to heal, he does it with the ease used to heal Simon’s mother-in-law. He compassionately takes our hand. Nothing is too complicated for God.
We're days away from Christmas and if you're like me (hopefully you aren't) you still have some shopping to do. We all do our best to get our loved ones "that perfect gift" and hope our selections elicit emotions of excitement and thanksgiving once the carefully purchased or handmade presents are revealed from their festive wrappings. Giving good gifts that have taken thought and maybe a little creativity and preparation bless us - the giver - with great joy and a sense of satisfaction of a job well done. If that's true for us, how much more true is it for God who has a bottomless treasure trove of blessings from which to hand-pick for His children whom He loves?
Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. ~ James 1:17
I want to share with you a story from my past that every time it re-enters my mind, it further reinforces in my heart how much God loves us. If you're wondering whether or not God truly cares for us in a deep, personal way - which is a question that sometimes haunts us, especially when enduring difficult trials - my prayer is that this true tale of the borderline miraculous will encourage you, too.
It begins in the spring of 1994 when I lived in Alexandria, VA while working as an intern at the Pentagon. There are several divine stories related to how I got my position and from my time working there, but those will need to wait for another time. For this particular account, what's important is what I learned while attending First Baptist Church of Alexandria on King Street.
A workshop was given there one Saturday, I believe, on the various names of God and how we should approach Him in prayer based on those names, which reveal to us who He is - His character. For instance, God is El Shaddai, which means Lord God Almighty. He is Jehovah Rapha, the God who Heals. He is Jehovah Jireh, the Lord will Provide. And there are many others. I'll provide a list for you to ponder that I found online.
Immediately following this workshop, I began going before God in prayer with a better understanding of who He is and it positively impacted my prayer life. It wasn't long after this that I received my next assignment to go overseas - a lifelong dream of mine to see more of the world. Before I left for Germany in June of '94 I boldly began making my petitions to Jehovah Jireh, my provider. There was no doubt in my mind, or so I thought, that the Lord wouldn't give me my list of desires. I requested the following: 1) A Home where I Could Entertain 2) A Yard where I Could have a Garden and 3) Access to a Piano.
These things may sound superficial but were vitally important to this then 24 year old because I had spent two years outside of the D.C. area renting a room in a condo where there was no room to entertain guests. There was no land in which to plant anything. And I missed my piano that remained at my parents' house. For the record, I took piano for nine years but today can barely play "Mary had a Little Lamb" but still rock at "Chopsticks" like nobody's business.
When I arrived in Deutschland to work for American Forces Network, a co-worker was assigned to assist me in finding a place to live. One of my supervisors suggested I live in his town, Wiesbaden, which was 25 miles from AFN, which at the time was headquartered in Frankfurt. That sounded good to me, so that's where our search began.
I soon learned that my requests I had made to God were pretty lofty ones. Germany isn't a large country, which means land isn't plentiful, so most people live in apartments. Those who actually lived in houses didso because they shared it with their parents and grandparents. Multiple generations living under one roof was commonplace. I also soon realized I should have prayed for a place with a kitchen, because I didn't know that Germans took their kitchens with them when they moved. Who knew?
But our search didn't last long. We inspected a room for rent in one house and determined there was too much wrong with it to call it home for my four years. My co-worker, Ken, called up the landlord of another house in Wiesbaden and asked if he'd show it to us. He of course agreed, so off we went to see what was behind door number two.
We arrived early, so we sat on the street in Ken's hatchback waiting for the landlord to arrive. I couldn't help but notice what a nice residential street it was and how large the home's front yard was. There was a large window that went practically from floor to ceiling that stretched across the front of the house. It was hard to see inside because of the sheer curtains that hung in the window, though it appeared fairly empty.
The landlord finally arrived and unlocked the heavy glass and wrought iron door that lead into the tiled entry. As we entered, he explained in his broken English that the stairs going up lead to his brother's apartment and the stairs going down lead to where his daughter, Claudia, lived. The thought of having someone else in the house while new to a foreign land, if this were a good fit, was comforting.
We headed into the living room with the large window and short green carpet. It was mostly empty, except for one piece of furniture. An upright piano. When I saw it my eyes widened. I wouldn't have been more surprised had a big red bow been placed on top of it with a greeting card telling me "Welcome to your new home!" As he continued showing me the house my head kept turning back to the piano in disbelief. Why was this place empty, except for the piano? Evidently my stares caught the landlord's attention who asked me if I played. "A little," I told him. He then explained that the house had belonged to his parents, but they had passed away and he had all the furniture removed but the piano. He hadn't had time to schedule movers to get it out of there. "But, if you would like to play it I'll leave it here for you," he offered. I couldn't sign my name on the lease fast enough.
I'm getting teary-eyed as I write this. The house had everything I wanted: it was large enough in which to entertain, and I did have some of the singles over and the youth group that I eventually helped teach. It had a spacious front and backyard in which I could garden, but wound up growing weeds. And it had a piano that I enjoyed playing in my spare time.
My faith grew by leaps and bounds during my years in Germany because of the time I dedicated to reading my Bible and prayer. It was when I really began to hear the Holy Spirit speak to me and to trust the Lord more instinctively. He became my Jehovah Jireh. My provider. And it all began with Him showering me with perfect gifts that had absolutely nothing to do with my needs, but solely with quenching the desires of my heart. Even though I didn't always use the gifts well - and I'm convinced He knew I wouldn't. I honestly believe the Lord delighted in giving me what would bring me immense joy...and ultimately closer to Him.
Make no mistake about it, God is the giver of good and perfect gifts. We simply need to approach Him with child-like confidence that He'll provide for our every need...and even some of our desires...not because we're deserving, but because that's what a loving father does.
Funny that the title "Author" appears above this description yet I have no idea what to share about myself in this space! How about my first name is Kim. My last name is Tisor. Tisor rhymes with miser, though I try not to be one.
For more information about me, please visit the author page.