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Posts Tagged ‘healing’

thirst

Hunger is a strange feeling.  It is a wanting after waiting; a need that becomes louder and louder until it is satisfied.

Often, we try to fill our spiritual hunger with physical food (or other things.)  It is when I am spiritually hungry that I tend to “stress eat.”  I find myself losing control of my diet when I hunger and thirst most for righteousness.  Nothing proves this truer than fasting because fasting reveals to us all the things we are wanting that eating physical food is substituting for.

I have recently felt a strong spiritual need to become physically hungry again.  Self-control is a fruit of the Holy Spirit and I am praying that the Lord helps me with this struggle.

In doing so, the first place I turned was to Matthew 5 – to the beatitudes.

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied… “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” ~Matthew 5:6, 11-12

We are blessed – living in the favor of God – when we are hungry for the right things.  Unfortunately, as history makes abundantly clear, those who were most hungry for righteousness (the prophets) were also most hated by men.

I began to study about some specific incidences of when prophets were hated and abused and I landed at 2 Kings 2:23-25.

 “He went up from there to Bethel, and while he was going up on the way, some small boys came out of the city and jeered at him, saying, “Go up, you baldhead! Go up, you baldhead!” 24 And he turned around, and when he saw them, he cursed them in the name of the Lord. And two she-bears came out of the woods and tore forty-two of the boys.25 From there he went on to Mount Carmel, and from there he returned to Samaria.” ~2 Kings 2:23-25

There is a lot to be said about this brief interaction which conveys many insights as to God’s character.

Earlier in this chapter, we find that there was a problem with the water supply in Jericho where the prophet Elisha was.

19 Now the men of the city said to Elisha, “Behold, the situation of this city is pleasant, as my lord sees, but the water is bad, and the land is unfruitful.” 20 He said, “Bring me a new bowl, and put salt in it.” So they brought it to him. 21 Then he went to the spring of water and threw salt in it and said, “Thus says the Lord, I have healed this water; from now on neither death nor miscarriage shall come from it.” 22 So the water has been healed to this day, according to the word that Elisha spoke.” ~2 Kings 2:19-22

Interestingly, Jericho was the city where walls had been built and the people had isolated themselves – locked themselves in so they would not be ruled by God or by His people.  God used unorthodox methods to both bring down the walls and to prove the faith of His people.

So there’s a lesson for us.  It doesn’t matter how strong and tall your walls are, if they are made to resist God, they will soon be broken down.

Later, God cursed the man who rebuilt Jericho and killed his children.  Now, years later, we find Jericho still having problems.  The water supply was tainted and unusable.  The prophet Elisha was asked to help and the Lord healed the water through him.  That brings us to the incident at hand.

Apparently, it was commonplace in this area to mock and scoff at the prophets.  These people hated reproof and correction – so much so that they taught their children to upbraid them.  So common this practice had become of hating and mocking the prophets that even the children had no fear or respect for them.

If it had been the first time, the punishment likely would not have been so severe.  But it was doubtless commonplace to tear down the character of God’s prophets because they so hated correction.

Though the boys were small, they were not afraid or ashamed before God’s prophet.  Matthew Henry says this:

“Elisha heard their taunts, a good while, with patience; but at length the fire of holy zeal for God was kindled in his breast by the continued provocation, and he turned and looked upon them, to try if a grave and severe look would put them out of countenance and oblige them to retire, to see if he could discern in their faces any marks of ingenuousness; but they were not ashamed, neither could they blush; and therefore he cursed them in the name of the Lord, both imprecated and denounced the following judgment, not in personal revenge for the indignity done to himself, but as the mouth of divine justice to punish the dishonor done to God…We may think it would have been better to have called for two rods for the correction of these children than two bears for the destruction of them.  But Elisha knew, by the Spirit, the bad character of these children.  He knew what a generation of vipers those were, and what mischievous enemies they would be to God’s prophets if they should live to be men, who began so early to be abusive to them.  He intended hereby to punish the parents and to make them afraid of God’s judgments.” 

So then, 42 children died for their unruly disobedience and unwillingness to respect and love the prophet and his godly correction.  It was a judgment and a punishment for the parents who allowed such brazen disrespect and abuse to be heaped upon the one chosen to be God’s voice to them.

So my question for myself and for everyone else today is are you hungry for righteousness?  For truth?  For justice?  How hungry?  If you are, expect to be treated poorly – misrepresented, mocked, made fun of, rejected, and even hated.  God says it is all a blessing, though.

On the other hand, if you are the one mocking and hating a person of God for the truth they tell you, be warned.  God is sending that person for your good, because he loves you so much.  His patience will run out eventually and, as the scripture says, at that time there is no remedy.

15 The Lord, the God of their fathers, sent persistently to them by his messengers, because he had compassion on his people and on his dwelling place. 16 But they kept mocking the messengers of God, despising his words and scoffing at his prophets, until the wrath of the Lord rose against his people, until there was no remedy. ~2 Chronicles 36:15-16

 

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Today, the third day since the healing began (just like the last time)  the pastor spoke about a prideful king whom God brought low, stripped of his securities and idols , and afflicted with a mental disorder.  I am that king.  I am the prideful one who worshiped self.  I am the violent one who sat on a throne of anger against God’s people.  I am the arrogant one who oppressed His anointed.  I am the lowliest one whom he has chosen to use and restore after a time of severe judgement.  I was prideful and angry at God and his people.  I was humbled and brought low by his judgement.  I have been miraculously restored by his amazing grace.  I know this is true.

When the sermon came to a close and pastor spoke the name “Jesus” many times in the conveying of the gospel, each time I felt the Holy Spirit physically act inside my body.  The power I felt as the name of Jesus was spoken at this time is inexplicable.

It is no coincidence that today, the daughter that was not to exist was dedicated to the Lord.  This one – who came years after a physical surgery preventing her.  This one – who came just one year after a marriage thought surely lost.  This one – a Son-ny whom God promised before she was even physically possible or logically believable.  This one – who moments after birth fell silent at her Daddy’s calm voice.

Neither is it a coincidence that afterward I saw my spiritual father at a picnic where I brought blackberry pie and picked wild ones.  Daddy was there.  Father God was there.  Redemption is here.  Restoration is complete.  I am free.  That, friends, is how God heals the broken.

As I write, my 11 year old daughter cries because she thinks her Daddy is sleeping.  She thinks he has forgotten about her and all their plans to finish building a chicken coupe.  She does not know I have already told him to attend to her.  She does not know he is awake.  She does not know he has not forgotten and cannot wait to go outside and work with her as long as it is Day .  “Why don’t you go wake him up?” I ask.  “He won’t.”  “How do you know?”  “Because I know him.”

No you don’t.  I did not know either of my fathers the way I wish I would have.  One slept for sickness and one I thought was sleeping for neglect.  I was wrong.  I have learned not to presume upon His grace or lack thereof any longer, though.  My Father is not, nor ever was he sleeping.  He wants me to come jump on the bed and tell him how much I cannot wait to do with him every single day.  I will be silent at his calm voice.  I am, after all, the daughter who was promised to a Son long before it was either logical or believable.

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The next day, I prayed again.  I went early to a triathlon race where I ran into a man who had acted as a father figure to me for several years in my mid twenties.  I had not seen this man in quite some time but ten years ago he taught me to swim and trained me for my first marathon.  He always encouraged me like a dad would.

As I got into the pool I realized my goggles were not adjusted right as my kids use them often.  I tried to fix them, but every time I swam a stroke, water entered into my eyes.  I made several attempts but I could not get them right.  I began to swim backstroke instead because I cannot stand water in my eyes.

As I swam, I thought about how I must live this way.  I must live looking up at all times or I am going to be completely blind.  God was teaching me.

When I began the bike portion of the race, I saw a church marquee that read, “Faith for your decisions, Part 2.” I literally laughed out loud because I knew what God was saying.  I have not made my decisions in faith in the past.  Part 1 was not faithful.  But he is opening a new chapter for me concerning how to follow him in true and saving faith.

I biked for several miles and just as I entered a hollow of shade trees, I thought of my dad.  Every time I go through a hollow on a country road, I think of him because when he got sick (when I was 11) we always took 857 to Morgantown to visit him.  I knew when we went though the hollow we were close to seeing daddy – whom I missed terribly.  I knew God would show up.  Just as I entered the hollow and thought of daddy, my friend who had taught me to swim and distance run appeared from around the bend coming the other way.  “Good job, Lori,” he said.  Those are words I never really got to hear from my dad.  What are the chances that he would enter that hollow coming from the other way at that very moment? It was not a coincidence. God, my Father whom I have missed so much was meeting me.

As I was running, I was coming onto the track toward the finish and a song I associate with the excommunication came on.  Next, a song I associate with a severed relationship from the dark period came on.  The two darkest realities I faced over two years ago were both associated with a song and both songs played at the finish of this race.  God was speaking.  He was in that and he is in this – healing.  He showed me that it is finished.

After I finished my father-like friend gave me a hug and said, “I’m proud of you.”  That’s what daddy would have said if he were there.

The doctor told me the reason God wants to heal me is for freedom.  So I will be free from anxiety and worry and discouragement and sin.  The race was put on by an organization known as “Faith in action” – a Christian hospice and home care agency.  Their sign at the end of the race had their motto which read, “A neighbor’s independence depends on you.”

Freedom .  Independence.  Mine and yours.  That is why I am sharing this awesome, bizarre, crazy story with you.  God wants to give us freedom from fear, discouragement, depression, and anxiety.  I know beyond the shadow of a doubt he does.

As I drove home I noticed a cloud in the sky that was shaped like a heart and  – I kid you not – inside that cloud was a brighter white cloud in the form of a “u.”  Love u.  It was God.  No doubt.  Not a moment later a huge billboard read, “Who is Jesus” in all caps and another said, “A father is who picks you up after you fall.”  Then I entered back into Pennsylvania from West Virginia and the sign said, “Welcome to Pennsylvania, state of independence.”  Did you know that was our motto?? I didn’t.  I thought we were the keystone state or something.  God was lavishing his love upon me, assuring me as my father, giving me freedom, and bringing me back home.  That is what he is doing.  I have no doubt no matter how unreal this all sounds to other people.

I was so smitten and overwhelmed by God’s love by this point that I literally missed my exit and did not realize it for many miles.  When I finally realized that I was lost, I got on the toll road and came home a completely different, longer way.  As I came past a church the Holy Spirit spoke very clearly to me and said, “Go to that church and pray for the person who is there.”

I second guessed several times but knew the command was clear.  I am not one to do this kind of thing – ever.  I have, but it has probably been fifteen years since – back in those early days when I trusted God like a child.  So, I reluctantly turned around telling myself surely no one will be there at noon on a beautiful Saturday.  No one in sight, so I pulled behind the church to turn around and a man sat on a lawn mower right in front of me.

I stalled a few moments wondering if I should just leave or pretend I needed directions but God said, “Pray for that man!”  So I got out and told him I was reformed but God made me.  He was the pastor and said the man who cuts grass was ill that day.  God wanted to encourage that man through me.

Later that night we went out to dinner for a friend’s birthday and to hear a band.  About halfway through the night, back behind the band I noticed a picture hanging on the wall at a table set back by itself.  As I got closer I realized the picture was of a red bird in the woods.  When I run I always look for red birds because they remind me of my dad.  I used to specifically ask the Lord to show me a red bird when I was thinking of my dad and he often would.

I have no doubt that these seeming coincidences are really and truly God moving in my life to restore, heal, and use me for his glory.

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As I hid myself and my six month old in the church’s cry room to nurse and listened to the band rehearse over the speaker, I thought.  What a perfect place to worship.

How often do I come to church and speak to everyone but God?  How often do I come to His Word and write about him without talking to him first?  I mean, what if I came to your house twice a week but never spoke to you?  What kind of a friend does that?  Better yet, what kind of daughter does that?

A prideful one.  An arrogant one.  A full of herself fool does that.  A rebellious teenage-minded one.

For the past, well, I am not even sure how many years it has been now.  Let’s say four, maybe, although it may indeed be more like 6-10 if I get real honest.  For the past four years my relationship with my heavenly Father has been troubled.  Troubled because of trials. Troubled because of trust issues.  Troubled because of tiredness.  Troubled because of self-reliant trying.

I tend to go into self-protect mode and function as a selective mute when I am hurting; when I do not trust; when I cannot understand.  God is not a father who takes well to teenage talklessness, though.  God is a father who has a way of taking me to task when my pouting and pretense become terribly unpretty.

Familiarity breeds contempt.  God will not have me living under his roof without correction.

For two years I pouted and glared.  For two years I turned a cold shoulder heavenward.  For two years I attended church, Bible study, read and wrote on the Bible daily with nary much of a word or two sent up in faith.  I claimed I did not know how to pray.  I studied the psalms intensely.  I wrote on every single one searching for a supposed answer to my prayer problem.  A year went by and still no speaking.  Not to him.  Not about truth.  Maybe for you.  Maybe for food.  But not about the truth.  What I had was not a knowledge problem.  What I had was an obedience problem.

The truth was too terrible.  It was too terrifying.  I was too angry, too depressed, too discouraged, and too temperamental to talk to a God I no longer trusted about the truth in my heart.

Another year went by wherein I worked harder than I had ever done  to earn his favor – which I thought I had most certainly lost somewhere along the way.  I worked and worked and worked for the approval of his people who, in his divine judgement on me for my pride in self-sufficient works, trampled every last effort until they were all completely obliterated.

I was wrongfully, yet sovereignly, excommunicated.  I left the church.  I left my marriage.  I departed from the truth altogether for a desperately dark time.

Six months later I ran into an old friend who was now a pastor.   Since that time the Lord has been relentless on his mission to restore me.  He took me back under his roof.  He redeemed my marriage.  He restored my spiritual life.  And today, I fully believe he has finally closed the darkest chapter of my life.

A month ago I met a man who told me God wanted to heal me.  He told me to pray.  He told me unorthodox things like to stand in the grass with no shoes on and wait on and feel the presence of God.  He told me stop making excuses about stopping to spend silence with Jesus.  So I did.  Just two days ago, I did.  For the first time in a long time, I sat completely still.  I folded my hands.  I bowed my head and I prayed to God.  I listened and he spoke.  I spoke and he listened.

I put my feet in the grass, I looked up at the night sky, and I prayed.  He spoke to me as a father in ways whose explanation elude me almost completely.  With equal intensity, he placed a burning in my heart to tell someone – anyone who will listen.

I believe he may be calling me to write a book concerning the details of my journey of faith and faithlessness.  In the mean time, I am going to try to share some of the moments God has given me over the past week in the next few posts. He has been reminding me over and over and over and over again of my earthly father with many convincing proofs.  I believe he is reassuring me that HE is my Father who loves me, calling me to some kind of ministry, and giving me a gift.  I do not fully understand all of what God is doing in and through me at this time but I do know a few things for sure: it is real, it is God, and it is more amazing than anything I have ever experienced.  Praise Him!

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