I hate to bring the same tired rhetoric; the same worn-out lesson.
But each narrative in this 25-year-old life is screaming the Gospel.
As I stated in my original post, it isn’t the comfort-seeking commercialized Christian “walk” that modern culture would have you consume. It is the capital-R, Real life of someone so insecure and broken, that each day is a revelation of just how much I need Jesus.
I could give you some insight based on a recent interaction I have had, or I could manufacture some unique metaphor based on my life experience. That’s been the boom, recipe. There is nothing wrong with that, I suppose, but lately I keep going back to a discussion of Mark 5 that Ray Cortese had in a recent sermon. I’d like to communicate that to you, uninhibited:
Mark describes a scene where Jesus has been requested by one of the temple magistrates to tend to his daughter, who is ill. A mob follows Jesus on his trek to the house. An “unclean” woman enters the narrative, desperate to touch Jesus’ garments, as a means for healing.
The woman, as Ray describes, has been suffering from a condition that causes her to constantly menstruate. She is the picture of society’s outcasts, the unclean, the sick, that the Gospels tend to illustrate. Mark points out that she has spent every dollar she has seeking treatment, and “was not helped at all, but rather had grown worse.”
As she reaches out and grabs Jesus’ cloak (I actually like to think Jesus wore one of those oversized Starter Jackets from the mid-90s), she was healed of her affliction. Jesus, feels the power go from him, and questions who had touched him. His disciples, reacted incredulously towards the question, pointing out the mob of people that surrounded him, and completely miss what is happening before their eyes. She comes forward, falls at his feet, and Jesus says “daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace and be healed of your affliction.”
This can be dissected on a number of levels, but I think one of the simplest and most significant thing to think about is the depth of detail in this story. If you’re like me, you read a chapter, glean away the superficial details (Jesus heals a sick lady, cool), and keep it moving. A closer look makes this story a mirror to look into; a narrative to identify with.
The sick woman “had endured much at the hands of many physicians, and had spent all she had and was not helped at all.” If there is a sentence in the bible that encompasses our lives (again, one of those times I am going to say our instead of my to throw you all under the bus along with me), I think that is it. There is a ridiculous amount of truth in that idea.
Think about the physicians we seek out each moment in our lives, looking for a cure to the bleeding out of our souls. This 25-year-old manboy seeks out Dr. City, Dr. Lifestyle, Dr. Career, Dr. Girls, Dr. J-Crew, Dr. Beer, Dr. Social Media, looking for healing. Again, independently those things aren’t necessarily bad, but when we begin to think if those things were better or different our outlook/happiness would increase they become idols of value.
I’d like to think that maybe in this season of my life I am a little more susceptible to these Doctors. Transition breeds uncertainty, and tumult. It brings a relentless tide of lessons. We endure (OK, this is over-dramatic, I know, but just roll with me for a bit) much at the hands of the world.
We wonder when we will get married. We wonder when the professional grunt work will yield stability. These are just more doctors, located on the horizon, that our heart is tricked into thinking will be the answer.
We wonder why our Hope comes in whispers, and our doubt is broadcast over every medium possible.
The hardest part, is even being made aware of our addiction to physicians is only one step. Identification has been an easy task for me. Haziness comes next. This is where it is hard to exist in a walking contradiction, let alone blog about it. This is where the process of sanctification can discourage instead of encourage: We are simultaneously confronted and called to process our great need for Jesus and our perpetual pride that lives like we don’t.
Ray aptly commented that the greatest obstacle to “getting” God is a heart that doesn’t recognize its need for God.
Simple enough, right?
I think there are basic tenants of spiritual existence that aid us in this process: church membership (of the plugged in variety and all that goes with it, not the show up at the 11:30 service then throw up the deuces kinda thing), accountability from both the Church and a close community of friends, being in the word, and evangelism.
So why does the infrastructure of my life inhibit all for of those? Why does my career path seem to discourage those practices? Those are questions that I think have been internally weighing on me. They are questions that I certainly do not have answers to.
I think Mark 5 could just point out that knowing all the answers isn’t necessarily what we need. Here is Jesus, on the way to tend to a very important community leader’s daughter, a daughter that is on the verge of death, and it is reasonable to think there was a fair amount of confusion/frustration/outrage that he stopped for a cultural pariah.
And let me point out this: she wasn’t just healed physically. He stopped, scanned the crowd for her, looked her in the eye and called her his daughter. A woman who had quite literally been isolated from society emotionally and physically (and most certainly abandoned by her family), who had (repeated for significance) endured much at the hands of physicians (the world), is restored. Yes, she was physically healed, but her greatest need was met by Jesus. She was healed spiritually.
She’s restored by faith in Jesus; not by her ability to cure her own syndromes, not by a formulaic process, and certainly not by the doctors that she looked to for so long.
I don’t want to just construct a good argument for Jesus, though. I want to see my faith influence my choices, words, thoughts, and actions. This is what I almost always come back to. This is what the challenges of my life point back to each day.
Each day, each struggle strips another layer of false-belief off of my heart. Every second of chaos I am exposed to, is a reminder of my incredible need for Jesus.
I miss you folks, and hope that you are learning along with me that our ragged efforts to follow Jesus often emulate the sick woman. And as a result, Jesus is seeking out our eyes, to call us a son or daughter, and to affirm our hearts and heal our souls.