Whose ‘skin’ fit best? A good question – one I had not considered before, really.
When reading Scripture, I search for Jesus in the stories – especially the Old Testament. I’ve learned much about Him using this method.
On this day, however, two separate people made the same suggestion:
Find yourself in the story to see what the Lord desires to show you.
The posts I wrote concerning Lazarus came to mind. Which one was me? Easy: Lazarus!
I still recall the day I met Jesus for the first time. The Sunday school teachers told us about Him and His great love for us. He captured my heart that day, and I welcomed Him as Lord and lover of my soul.
We became fast friends and I could ‘listen’ to Him talk for hours (through His Word, through pastors and teachers).
Then came the day when I was desperately ‘ill.’ Others went to bid Him come and heal me.
Imagine my hurt and confusion when He tarried, and seemingly allowed me to slip from life.
Surrounded by darkness.
So bound that I could scarcely move.
I thought He loved me. How could He treat me this way?
Just when all hope was gone, a light broke into my tomb, and I heard Him call my name.
Despite the tight cocoon-like wrapper, I managed to get to my feet. Shuffling along, I made my way back to the light of day.
Every movement brought a fresh whiff of the stench of death.
Then I heard Jesus command that my bonds be loosed by the onlookers.
Some looked on in horror. Others covered their noses and drew back, repulsed by the sight and putrid odor.
Thankfully, some braved the mess and began to set me free. Even some of these were overcome and also pulled away.
Bit by bit the grave clothes were removed.
Suddenly, it occurred to me that beneath the wrappings I was naked!
What to do?
At first I clung to those disgusting rags. I didn’t want to be exposed.
Embarrassment and humiliation became additional shrouds to be peeled away. I didn’t want anyone to see me in this state.
I had a choice to make: maintain my dignity and remain in bondage – or submit to being stripped bare in humility.
Finally the stench became so nauseous that I could no longer endure it. I surrendered to the gentle hands as they removed layer after layer from my heart.
Still in a weakened condition, others had to bathe me. At last I was dressed in fresh, clean clothes.
We marveled at the miracle of which we’d been a part.
‘Happily ever after’ loomed large on the horizon.
Instead, I found myself a target! I was hunted like a fugitive by Jesus’ enemies from that time on.
That’s a loose paraphrase of Lazarus’ story, laid over my own.
I found myself overtaken by ‘disease’ through no fault of my own.
As a teen, I began to ask Jesus to come heal me. He said He loved me, so a prompt response seemed like a no-brainer.
Instead, He took His time…so much that I was inwardly dead when He arrived.
Hopelessness, despair, unbelief that He could do anything at this point – these were the emotions I felt.
These are the lies I believed.
Nevertheless, He called me from death to life and asked for volunteers to do the unpleasant work of releasing me from my putrid ‘grave clothes.’
Some didn’t know how – and shrank back.
For others, the mess was overwhelming. Offended by the stench, these also slipped away.
Some even tried to shove me back into the ‘tomb!’
A few brave, compassionate souls, though, came forward one by one and began to gently peel away my bonds. This took many years of counseling and prayer. To these women I will be forever grateful.
These sweet ladies not only removed the mess, but lovingly bathed and dressed me.
What amazes me most is that, instead of being seen as a living example of Jesus’ ability to bring life from death, the ‘religious’ folks did their best to ‘kill’ me. They would have liked nothing better than to see me bound up once again, and removed from sight. Sadly, some of these I once called ‘friend.’
That was an entry from my journal last October. It’s been a smelly, messy ordeal that took more than a year this time. I’m in the ‘being bathed’ phase at long last, and am not as stinky. God is good!
Jesus came to give us life to the full. He stated His intentions in Luke 4:18-19:
The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me,
Because He has anointed Me
To preach the gospel to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives
And recovery of sight to the blind,
To set at liberty those who are oppressed;
To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD.”
He heals our wounds by revisiting memories with us. He gives us a new identity. He gives insight and revelation – a fresh perspective on old thoughts, and delivers us from the hands of the evil one. Don’t ever let anyone tell you that Jesus doesn’t heal in this way. I am walking, living, breathing proof that He does!
Salvation is so much more than a future home in heaven. It is eternal life, beginning now!
I wonder, which Bible stories most resonate with you?