Thoughts for the Week

Posts tagged ‘religion’

Clean Again

(Mark 1:40-45)

I couldn’t feel the coarse fabric of the cloak I had stolen. I knew it was wrong to take it, but I was desperate. I slipped between two houses. Capernaum was quieter that usual, for which I was grateful. I was also grateful it was getting darker

Speed was necessary. If I was discovered, I could be beaten, driven out of town, or worse.

The person I was searching for taught in the mountainside, but I couldn’t approach him with a group of people surrounding him. My secret would be out.

I didn’t even know if he could help me. But I heard he had driven a demon out of a man in the synagogue a week ago. I shuffled toward the mountainside. I might have cut my heel on a sharp rock, but I couldn’t tell. As I reached a crest, I saw the crowd moving toward me.  They had listened to the rabbi speak all day, but now they were returning home. I slipped behind a dead tree, keeping my eyes down and head covered. No one noticed me.

I peered around the tree and finally saw the man I was looking for. He sat on large stone near a grassy hill, twelve men milled around him. They talked about finding dinner in town somewhere. The rabbi was silent on the edge of the group. I reasoned I could slip up, talk to him and…well, I hadn’t quite figured out the next part.

Now was the time. Either leave and remain alone for the rest of my life, or go to this rabbi named Jesus.

I ran to him, falling at his feet and my cloak slid off. I held my hands up and begged. “Rabbi, please help me!”

His followers noticed me and pulled back in disgust. I knew they stared at the sores and welts on my head and shoulders. A few yelled angrily at me. “Why didn’t you warn us you were unclean? You are supposed to be in isolation!” One approached me with his fists clenched and a scowl painted on his features. “Get out of here, you leper.”

Jesus rose to his feet. “All of you, stop it.” He came closer and knelt in front of me. He was the only one who had not pulled away and glared at my condition like so many others had.

His eyes held such concern and compassion, a depth I had never witnessed before. Maybe he could help. I lowered my head to hide my tears.

“Please. I want to be healed. I want to feel again. I want to hold my baby girl and see my wife. It’s been years, and I know I’ll die alone and deformed if you send me away.”

More tears fell, and I wiped them away with one of the few fingers I had left. “If you are willing, I know you can make me clean.”

Then I noticed a slight pressure on my welt-covered shoulder. Jesus was touching me! One of the disciples objected, “Lord! You will become unclean as well!”

But he didn’t mind them, he only spoke, “I am willing. Be clean.”

In that moment, something miraculous happened. I suddenly felt Jesus’ hand more distinctly. I felt the brush of his gentle, worn palm against my shoulder. I actually felt it! I looked down at my hands and felt my face. They were all healed! The skin was smooth again!

The grass beneath my feet tickled and the cool evening air felt delicious against my new skin.

Jesus helped me to my feet, telling me to go to the priests, saying they could verify my cleanliness. It meant I could go home. I could see my family again.

That night, my skin was new, along with my heart. The healing Jesus had given me also gave me hope. I had been unclean, an outcast, doomed to die alone. But now, I was clean again!

Copyright 2012 by Molly Anderson. Use by permission only.

Weakness to Strength

We all have them. Weaknesses.

We hate them, try to hide them, and pretend they don’t exist. But they’re as real as our strengths.

Isaiah the prophet had a weakness that ran deep.

In his book, chapter six, he has a vision of God in the temple. There are magnificent creatures praising God. Their voices were so powerful that they shook the temple. But they covered their faces, perhaps as a sign of respect, for they didn’t want to look upon the holy King.

But Isaiah was a mere man, and he’d seen the Lord. He was horrified and said something like, “I’m doomed! My mouth is dirty because of my words, and I live with other sinful people. I’m nowhere near as righteous as God!”

He was ashamed even to be in God’s presence. There’s a side lesson. God’s mighty holiness usually makes us aware of our own faults.

But it was all right. Isaiah wasn’t kicked from the throne room. One of the creatures came over with a live coal from the altar and touched Isaiah’s lips with it. The creature said something like, “Look, this has taken away your sin and guilt.”

At that point, God spoke. He asked for someone to go on his behalf. Isaiah was quick to volunteer! This is where we reach the key point. God asks Isaiah to tell his people a message.

Wait a second. Wasn’t Isaiah’s mouth (or his speech) his greatest weakness a moment ago? Exactly. God seems to love using people’s weaknesses to further his goals. It shows others how powerful He is, and reminds us that He is the strength-giver.

This week, commit your weaknesses to the Lord. He may use them in powerful ways!

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