Five Minute Friday: Question

Gentle Reader,

June in North Idaho is a strange month. Monday the temperature reached into the upper 80s. Today it’s been clouds and rain.

Kate says: question.

Go.

“You want to be a pastor?”

Want might be too strong a word. I identify strongly with the prophets Jeremiah and Ezekiel, neither of whom were initially thrilled to receive the call. In fact, I just finished reading Ezekiel recently, and this verse had me laughing aloud:

The Spirit lifted me up and took me away. I left in bitterness and in an angry spirit, and the LORD’s hand was on me powerfully.

– 3:14 (CSB)

Commentators are split as to whether his anger and bitterness was in response to the sins of his people or in response to being commissioned to do a thankless job. I suspect it was probably a bit of both. When God, in His kindness, confronts us with our sin, we rightly feel a rush of emotion. When God, in His wisdom (and honestly, sometimes with His sense of humor), guides us toward the path He wants us to travel, we wrongly get mad and stubborn.

At least I have.

I don’t like getting up in front of people and talking. A lip sync battle, sure, because that’s funny. A part in a play, fine, because that’s not me; it’s a character. Just myself, Marie, behind a music stand, daring to declare that God has given me something to say…wow. That’s a lot.

But like I said, God has a sense of humor. I think He gets a kick out of using unexpected people in unexpected ways, because it brings Him glory and creates goodness in our lives.

Do I want to be a pastor? Truthfully, I’m not quite there in the wanting department. Still a lot of fear to overcome. The better question is this: Do I have to be a pastor? Yes, I really do. Absolutely no idea what that’s going to wind up looking like. All I know for right now is that I’m meant to keep showing up for our youth and I’m supposed to go to seminary. (Yeah, I just signed away at least four years of my life).

The real question, the one that circles ’round and ’round my mind, the one spoken in the quiet yet authoritative voice of the Holy Spirit: “Will you obey Me?”

Even though I don’t know where this path is going.

Even though it scares me to the point of tears.

Yes. I’ll obey. Not because I’m awesome, but because my God is. Because when I stand up there, longing for nothing more than to run away or to disappear, a greater longing overtakes me. I want these precious and wild young people to know just how deeply they are loved. I want them to understand the glorious Gospel that sets them free. I want them to meet Jesus. I want them to grow in relationship with Him. I want to see them grab hold of transcendent truth, to be enraptured with their Creator – and then to go out and set the world ablaze as they live in grace.

Stop.

Side note: Super weird to have people start referring to me as “Pastor Marie.” Pretty sure I’m not ever going to get used to that.

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Sisters: This Pain in My Side

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Gentle Reader,

While He was going, the crowds were nearly crushing Him. A woman suffering from bleeding for twelve years, who had spent all she had on doctors and yet could not be healed by any, approached from behind and touched the end of His robe. Instantly her bleeding stopped.

“Who touched me?” Jesus asked.

When they all denied it, Peter said, “Master, the crowds are hemming You in and pressing against You.”

“Someone did touch Me,” said Jesus. “I know that power has gone out from Me.” When the woman saw that she was discovered, she came trembling and fell down before Him. In the presence of all the people, she declared the reason she had touched Him and how she was instantly healed. “Daughter,” He said to her, “your faith has saved you. Go in peace.”

– Luke 8:42b-48 (CSB)

I wasn’t expecting this to take 13 entries.

But here we are.

I sit in my writing spot – just a corner of the couch, nothing fancy – and occasionally press a hand to my side. My liver’s been acting up. Extra nausea, sharp stabs of pain. I can feel one of the hepatic hemangiomas, a tangled up ball of blood vessels. It’s hanging out just to the left of my ribs. I wince as I push too hard on a bit of scar tissue that was stretched earlier by some abdominal exercises. Strange how that stuff still hurts after so many years of surgery.

My body is ridiculous. I have to laugh about it. I have to shake my head at it.

Who gets liver disease without being an alcoholic or a drug addict? Seriously. Who does that?

Whose cholesterol numbers go up despite eating a non-fatty, plant-based diet?

What woman my age complains of aching joints?

Yes, I look forward to Eternity and a new body. I’d take it right now, in fact. But Jesus, He doesn’t seem to operate on my timetable. He has His own plans. And right now, His plan seems to be that I learn, each day, how to love and trust Him through this pain in my side. That I learn to hold tightly to His hand, despite no guarantee of relief this side of Heaven. That I learn to grit my teeth and to continue on, then, paradoxically, learn to cry and to rest.

Those who suffer have not been rejected by God. He is not angry with us. We are not great sinners in need of punishment. We are just people, like you. People who happen to have bodies that malfunction and break down at a faster rate than yours. Because yes, my friend, the day will come when you can’t do all that you want to do. Hardly do I wish that day on you. I pray that it is a long time in the coming. But it is there, marked on an unseen calendar, part of being the children of Adam and Eve.

Never forget that we who have been saved by Jesus are also His children. So when that day comes, you can walk through it, because He will give you the internal fortitude required. He will empower you. He will teach you how to be resilient.

We who arrived at that place before you did, we’ll be there for you. We’ll hold your hand. We’ll teach you how to navigate the confusing maze of doctor’s offices, pharmacies, and insurance regulations. We’ll share with you the slightly dark and somewhat twisted sense of humor required to cope. We’ll listen as you rage and hold you when you cry.

All we ask is that you do the same for us in return – right now.

Because that’s what family does.

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For all posts in the Sisters series, go here.

Sisters: Daughter

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Gentle Reader,

While He was going, the crowds were nearly crushing Him. A woman suffering from bleeding for twelve years, who had spent all she had on doctors and yet could not be healed by any, approached from behind and touched the end of His robe. Instantly her bleeding stopped.

“Who touched me?” Jesus asked.

When they all denied it, Peter said, “Master, the crowds are hemming You in and pressing against You.”

“Someone did touch Me,” said Jesus. “I know that power has gone out from Me.” When the woman saw that she was discovered, she came trembling and fell down before Him. In the presence of all the people, she declared the reason she had touched Him and how she was instantly healed. “Daughter,” He said to her, “your faith has saved you. Go in peace.”

– Luke 8:42b-48 (CSB, emphasis mine)

Allow me to step onto my soapbox.

These words are misused, taken out of context, so often. Well, if you really had faith, you’d be healed. No. No. That’s not what happened. That’s not what Jesus said.

Consider:

On one of those days while He was teaching, Pharisees and teachers of the law were sitting there who had come from every village of Galilee and Judea, and also from Jerusalem. And the Lord’s power to heal was in Him.

Just then some men came, carrying on a stretcher a man who was paralyzed. They tried to bring him in and set him down before Him.Since they could not find a way to bring him in because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and lowered him on the stretcher through the roof tiles into the middle of the crowd before Jesus.

Seeing their faith He said, “Friend, </span><span class=”woj”>your sins are forgiven.”

Then the scribes and the Pharisees began to think to themselves: “Who is this man who speaks blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God alone?”

But perceiving their thoughts, Jesus replied to them, “Why are you thinking this in your hearts? Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’? But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins” – He told the paralyzed man, “I tell you: Get up, take your stretcher, and go home.” Immediately he got up before them, picked up what he had been lying on, and went home glorifying God. Then everyone was astounded, and they were giving glory to God. And they were filled with awe and said, “We have seen incredible things today.”

– Luke 5:17-25 (CSB)

The miracle is never just in the physical healing. The point is never just in the restoration of the body. The faith is not just for renewal of joints and muscles.
This woman knew that Jesus was someone different. She knew that He was unlike any physician. Like the other women in Luke’s gospel, named and nameless, she gets it. She recognizes Who Jesus is long before the men do. I say this not to demean men, but rather because Luke is very deliberate in highlighting that it’s the unexpected people who immediately understand both the Person and the message of Jesus. As the only Gentile writer in all of Scripture, Luke knows what it is to be the outcast. His gospel sheds light on the universality of Jesus, how He came to save all who call upon Him in faith.

This woman calls upon Jesus. The words don’t leave her lips, but we see in her actions the desperate plea for salvation.

Jesus [called her forward] so that she would know <i>why</i> she was healed. When Jesus said, “Your faith has made you well” it showed the woman that it really wasn’t touching the clothing of Jesus that healed her. Instead, it was her faith in Jesus and what He could do for her. …

Jesus did it because He wanted to bless her in a special way. He called her “Daughter.” Jesus never called any other person by this name. Jesus wanted her to come forth and hear this special name of tenderness. When Jesus calls us forward, it is because He has something special to give us. Never forget that we who have been saved by Jesus are also His children. So when that day comes, you can walk through it, because He will give you the internal fortitude required. He will empower you. He will teach you how to be resilient.

David Guzik

He called her “daughter.” And she was daughter still when her body did what bodies do and returned to a state of decay.

Those of you who have been reading this blog for awhile are probably tired of reading these words, but I’m going to write them again anyway: We live in a Genesis 3 world. Yes, we are Revelation 21 people, always looking forward to the hope of an eternity of completeness and perfection, in the presence of God. But that looking forward, it’s the “not yet” part of the Kingdom. The “already” part is lived out in a world that spins ever-faster into a state of chaos. We do not escape the chaos. We are not guaranteed trouble-free lives.

In short, there is no room for the health-and-wealth/prosperity not-gospel when we handle Scripture rightly.

If I may, get over it.

Get over the fact that you may never have a bursting bank account, a huge house, or a body that looks and does exactly what you want at all times. Get over expecting God to operate like a magical sky-genie, giving you everything you want, exactly when you want it. Get over abusing the words of the Bible, twisting them to fit your Westernized notions of what blessings are. Get over crushing the abused, the ill, and the marginalized under your smug sense of superiority because they suffer and you do not.

Blunt words, I know, but I say them to myself as much as I do you, because we all struggle with viewing others as less-than.

This woman’s faith in Jesus made her His daughter. That’s what Luke wants us to focus on. The healing is amazing. It’s wonderful. I thank God that she received relief. But the real miracle is her adoption, by grace, into His family.

That’s the real miracle for us, today.

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For all posts in the Sisters series, go here.

Five Minute (Someday I’ll Do This On Time Again): Goal

 

Gentle Reader,

Spent my Thursday night with a friend at church, trying to sleep on just-this-side of uncomfortable hospital mattresses. We watched a silly television show, ate chocolate, partook of a face mask that made us look like swamp monsters, and chatted into the wee hours. Most importantly, we served three families who are looking to improve their lives. We had the honor of sitting with them during dinner, then cleaning the kitchen while they rested and prepared for the next day.

Loving like Jesus does is a beautiful thing.

Kate says: goal.

Go.

This might surprise you, but I’m not particularly goal-oriented when it comes to my writing.

Not in the traditional sense.

I used to want a multi-book contract. To see my name on the New York Times bestseller list. To write posts that go viral. To develop a big following on social media.

Now…none of that matters.

Of course I wouldn’t turn down a book contract. Of course I’d be delighted to see my name alongside major authors. Of course I’d feel honored if something I wrote spread far and wide. (As to the big following, it’s too scary). I’m just not chasing that stuff anymore. I may not know a lot, and I may have had to learn the things I do know the very hard way, but I can say with confidence that none of the above is fulfilling. None of the above meets the deepest need of my life.

That deepest need? To be loved. To be seen. To be accepted. To have purpose.

Only Jesus does that. Only He reaches down into my heart and draws the broken pieces together. Anything good this world has to offer, it’s just bonus. Extra. Nice and all, but not necessary.

I’m not a super-spiritual saint. Chances are good that as soon as I hit “publish,” I’ll be distracted by something false and shiny. But I know, in that place of knowing in the center of my being that cannot be shaken, that Jesus is the real treasure. Him – not what He provides, but Himself.

My goal, then, is to glorify Him in every word, whether they are read by the many or the few.

Stop.

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