Spiritual Healing

pexels-photo-999311.jpeg“For I will restore you to health and I will heal you of your wounds.” – Jeremiah 30:17 (NASB)

Who hasn’t endured suffering through a trial or doesn’t know someone who has?  I’m not sure anyone can answer “not me” to this question.  Pain and suffering surround our life.  It’s part of our world.  Trials are a part of our life journey.  God never says we will not suffer.  He does say he will be with us and see us through those times of suffering.

Jesus bore the ultimate suffering.  When he prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, his “tears became like drops of blood,” (Luke 22:24) and he placed his will in God’s hands.  As he asks God to “take this cup away from me; still, not my will, but yours be done,” (Luke 22:42) God gave him strength to endure the suffering of his journey that lay before him.  God also sent Simon the Cyrenian to help carry Jesus’ cross.  I believe God also sends people and circumstances to us as we place our will in his hands during our struggles, while carrying our crosses.

Everyone undergoes suffering at some point in their life.  These trials may come in different shapes and sizes and affect each person in different ways.  One may suffer the loss of a loved one, loss of a job, addiction, divorce, be a victim of abuse or a tragic accident.  This list goes on.  During this time, many people discover a relationship with God or may strengthen their relationship with God.  Some may never get passed it.  They may become angry with God.  They may wonder where God is or how could he let this happen, yet they never ask him.  They remain stuck, angry, bitter.  Their world becomes plagued with darkness and they can’t move on, past the hurt.

Healing from a tragedy or a trial in your journey of life is key to peace, joy and happiness.  Healing cannot be complete without going through a process, an emotional process, a process with God ever present, guiding you.

Many years ago, I went through an emotional healing process, a spiritual healing.  Through my journey, I uncovered a reliance on God.  I sought God as he guided me through a very emotional and painful divorce.  There were several elements along the way that I needed to achieve spiritual healing, total healing from my trial.  God prepared me each step.  Before advancing to the next step, I needed to learn the step before it.  It’s like a father who is teaching his little girl how to walk.  Before she can begin to walk on her own, he helps her stand and feel her strength in her legs.  Then he holds her hand as he helps her move each foot, one step at a time.  When she begins to grasp it, he lets go.  She falls and he picks her up, reassuring her confidence as he holds her hand again and then let’s go.  The process continues until she masters each step, with his guidance and security knowing he is there to pick her up.  This process is similar to God’s spiritual healing process.  The entire time he is there giving you strength, guiding your hand, and ready to pick you up when you fall.  Then one day, you are ready to walk your journey with joy in your heart.

Empty Tomb

But Mary stayed outside the tomb weeping.  And as she wept, she bent over into the tomb and saw two angels in white sitting there, one at the head and one at the feet where the body of Jesus had been.  And they said to her “Woman, why are you weeping?”  She said to them, “They have taken my Lord, and I don’t know where they laid him.”  When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus there, but did not know it was Jesus.  Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?  Whom are you looking for?”  John 20:11-15

Have you ever woke up and felt empty and lost?  You weren’t certain what was missing but you knew something was.  You went about your business, never stopping to pray.  You glanced down and saw your Bible on the night stand and paid it no mind.  You went to church but really weren’t present.  Your mind was somewhere else.

When I read this passage in John, when Mary Magdalene finds the tomb empty and begins to weep.  I reflect on my own heart, on the times that my heart felt empty like the tomb, when I have felt I had everything under control.  I didn’t need to pray, didn’t need to read the Bible.  I knew what I needed and what was best.  I went about my day with no thought of Jesus.

Today, like Mary Magdalene when she couldn’t find Jesus in the tomb, I weep for that person in me that had no relationship with Jesus, that was empty and lonely deep within.  I was blinded and couldn’t feel Jesus’ presence until one day, He called my name and opened my mind and my heart.  I couldn’t imagine my life today without Him, without prayer, without my church, and the Word of God.

Sometimes it takes our struggles in life to drop us to our knees and reach to the Heavens for help.  Lucky for us, Jesus is right there waiting for us to call to Him, just as He was right there when Mary Magdalene thought His body had been taken away.  The truth of His resurrection, had not sunk in yet until He called her name.  It was then that her eyes were opened and she recognized Him.  Sometimes that truth hasn’t sunk into our minds either and we struggle with it, recognizing His presence is with us always.  All we have to do is open our eyes, mind and heart and He reveals Himself to us – lightening our burdens and filling us with love.

Have you wept lately wondering where Jesus is?  Have you felt like He was not present when you needed Him?  Have you felt that he was gone, as if your heart felt like the empty tomb that was discovered Easter morning?   He is calling your name.  Will you recognize Him?

 

 

Stepping Stones

pexels-photo-914780.jpegHave you ever imagined your life a river guiding you on a spiritual journey to God? When you first jump in, it’s so exciting, you feel God so present, you see Him in front of you.  There are stepping stones in front of you making it easier for you to journey through the river towards Him.

Then one day the stepping stones in front of you in the river are gone and you have no place to go. You begin to panic and then you see this house on the river bank, safe and secure. The only path is backwards to this house. You know you don’t want to go backwards, you want to move forward. You stand still on the stone you are standing on, take a deep breath, say a prayer and a stepping stone appears in front of you. You take another breath and another stone appears. With every breath, with every prayer a stone appears in front of you. You take another and you wait for the stone but it doesn’t appear and then you look at the river bank and notice that God is delicately choosing the perfect stone to lay in front of you. He is tearing down the house stone by stone, tearing down your attachments as you breathe Him in, rest in Him in prayer, rely on Him, trust in Him.

Every time we allow these attachments to be torn down, dismantled, we grow closer to God, our spiritual journey continues and there are no boundaries as the river will continue to flow and God will continue to guide us, laying each stone in front of us. This was a reflection from a book I read sometime ago “Inner Compass”.

Our attachments come in many shapes and forms.  They can be our careers, money, our children, our children’s activities, our friends, our cell phones, our hobbies, our worries, fears, etc.  Anything that we place focus on or rely on above God.  Some may seem right and just.  We should place the care of our family as a priority in our lives, but when we begin to leave God out of the equation in our families, it becomes a disordered attachment.  Perhaps, instead of going to church on Sunday, we decide to support our children in a baseball tournament or soccer tournament.  May be, we go to our friends to tell our deeps concerns and issues before we pray to God and ask Him for guidance.  Fear and worry are huge disordered attachments many of us may hang on to.  When we don’t take these concerns to God, we dwell on them and they begin to define us.

When we have disordered attachments in our lives, instead of giving us life they begin to draw the life from us.  We begin to struggle with sustaining our relationship with God because we aren’t placing Him at the center.  We aren’t allowing ourselves to be guided and strengthened through Him because we are relying on these other things to bring us life.

Review the things in your life that are bringing you life and the things that are sucking life out of you.  Perhaps the things that are sucking life out of you are the bricks that you need to ask God to tear down and place in front of you so that you can continue to follow Him in the river along the journey He has planned for you.

Be Still…

Be still and know that I am God. Psalms 46:11

pexels-photo-326055.jpegHave things in your life been hectic, with little room for God? Are you struggling to sit quietly in prayer to listen to what He wants to tell you? Is your mind full of clutter and preventing you from being in the stillness, the presence of God?

Sometimes I think when we are at this pivotal moment where we are struggling to find this time, to free our minds, to sit at the feet of Jesus and just be still, God places us in a circumstance that does just that. He calls us to rest in Him when we are tired, weary, worn out from the busyness of life.

For me, I think this has been recent. I was at a pivotal moment where I was worn out, struggling to find time to pray. When I did find time, my mind was everywhere but there. I remember long ago when I was at the beginning of my spiritual journey, I told my spiritual director that my mind was full of clutter and I couldn’t pray. She suggested that perhaps God wanted me to bring this clutter to prayer. Again, recently, I found myself at this point, struggling to pray with all this clutter. Except this time the clutter was more about all the things I needed to do or to not forget I needed to do. Every time I sat down to pray, when I found a few minutes, my mind was focused on everything I needed to do that day.  My days had become too busy, too busy to even set aside a small amount of time for focused prayer.

Several months ago, I found myself unexpectedly sitting in a hospital bed for 2 days with nothing to do, but rest.  This little episode caused me a lot of downtime, a lot of rest. I found myself often wondering what am I going to do with all this restful time, in the absence of the busyness? Then God whispers, “be still and know that I am God.” I am the God who created day and night, water and land, all the animals that roam the earth, and most of all you. Trust in my ways and embrace my love by resting in my arms today. Rest your mind and let me guide your thoughts and your path. I will direct your life, through the story I have already written and the living master piece I have set before you. Now let me direct you by first being still and listening to the tiny whispers you hear. For in Me, you find all that you long for, all that you need. Rest my dear one. Rest!

In the busyness of your life consider setting aside time to be still and rest in the presence of God, at the feet of Jesus.  Quiet your mind and listen to what He is saying to you.  Your prayer is a conversation between you and Him, let Him speak to you as you rest your mind and your voice.

God’s Time

There is an appointed time for everything, and a time for every affair under the heavens.  Ecclesiastes 2:1

Do you struggle with God’s timing?  Do you ask Him why He didn’t do this for you or that when you wanted it done?  Perhaps, your why involves the healing of someone dear to you who is sick, in the hospital.  Or, may be, it’s saving a loved one that was taken early in life.  It could possibly be some trial you are suffering – a divorce, finances, job loss.

Whatever the affair on this earth, God has it all planned out.  He purposefully does not let our meek little minds know His plans for us, present and future.  But we can rest assured that His plans are better than ours.  Our desires and our timing for events in our lives will not produce the fruit of His desires and timing.  In Jeremiah 29:11, He tells us “For I know well the plans I have in mind for you.  Plans for your welfare and not for woe, so as to give you a future of hope.”

Years ago, I remember interviewing for a position that would have been a promotion for me.  I didn’t get the job.  I was very upset because I felt I was the most qualified candidate for the position.  “Why?”  Later, my why was answered.  Another opportunity came up that was similar in nature.  This time I got the job and today, 10 years later, I am still in that role.  When I look back at the person who got the other position, he was unhappy.  The level of stress was astronomical.  The opportunity I fell into fit my family-life balance perfectly with minimal stress.  I realized that the first position that I wanted and was disappointed in not getting was not God’s timing for me to be promoted to a leader.  His timing was 2 years later, because He knew what I needed and what I didn’t to be successful not only in my career but in my family life.

I still today find it hard to let go and trust God even after seeing so many events in my life that God’s plan worked much better than mine.  Why is it hard for us to trust, to place our life, present and future, in God’s hands?  Our human nature fears the unknown, the lack of control in situation.  We were made to be logical thinkers, to solve problems and so our instinct is to logically put together the pieces of the puzzle of our present and future in our affairs and ask God to deliver them as we see is most logical.  When our plan isn’t delivered when we want as we want, then we question God – “Why have you not answered my prayer?”  Perhaps that loved one that died early, would have suffered greatly and because God loves so greatly spared him/her by bringing them peace in a better place.  Perhaps, the trial you are suffering is refining and purifying you into something that is more valuable than any amount of gold.

We were created to be in union with God, to trust His ways and desire a relationship with Him and let Him love on us in all circumstances.  In the depths of our pain, He wants to hold us and draw us closer to Him.  At the peak of our joy, He wants to dance with us and rejoice with us.  He wants a trusting friendship with us and wants us to rest in His arms, knowing that He sees the big picture and His plans are greater.  Trust that “there is an appointed time for everything” and that God does have “plans for your welfare and not for woe”.  God has the wide lens, not us.

Freedom

Imagine you are walking along the beach.  The sand is sliding in and out of your toes as the ocean brushes over your feet ever so gently.  The sun begins to rise on the horizon.  The sky is painted in an array of orange and pink hues.  The view is breathtaking.  As you breathe in the fresh air, you smell the newness of the day that has been placed before you.  As you continue to peer across the ocean embracing all the beauty before your eyes, a seagull flies nearby, sweeping near the ocean surface.   What a delight as you imagine the freedom he has in the open sky.  Just as you imagine soaring free in the beautiful skies, the wind blows across your face and through your hair and you feel an immense freedom.  Peace sweeps through your entire body and you know deep within that there is a presence within you whispering “I am within you and will never leave you”.  At this moment, you experience the greatest freedom from the things that bound you in the world around you.  You want to stay in this place.  You soak up all that you can to experience it as long as you can, walking freely along the beach shore engaging all your senses.  The world feels as though it has stood still and it is just you, the beach and all that has been placed before you in the peaceful scenario by the one who has loved you from the beginning, your first love who “formed [your] inmost  being and knit [you] in [your] mother’s womb,” Psalm 139:13.

In this moment God meets you where you are.   He meets you in this pivotal moment of your life as you embrace all he has laid before you.  Do you feel His encounter?  Have you wondered where he has been lately?  Have you been spiritually starved, caught up in the busyness of life?  Are you restless and feel like you never have a chance to sit down, let alone pray?  Or may be you just feel there is more to your life, more to you, God is calling you but you don’t know what for?  Or perhaps you are afraid to be still and listen, afraid of what you may hear?  May be you are afraid to surrender control of the things in your life, afraid of the unknown?  Whatever it may be, in this moment when you let go and let His presence sweep you into the solitude of you and Him, feel the freedom of knowing He is with you as He guides your hands, feet, eyes, ears, and thoughts.

So often we feel stuck in the mundane of life.  We check the boxes on our to do lists and even the boxes in our faith.  One day, we wake up and feel something is missing in our life.

Each of us was born with a desire, a desire for God.  We fill this desire or longing, with money, sex, status, material things, etc.  There is always something missing, something more.  That something more is God.  He is the only one that can fully satisfy that desire.  He created us to desire a relationship with Him.  If we never establish it and try to fill this desire with other stuff, we will never be full, something will always be missing.

Faith Can Move Mountains

pexels-photo-640858.jpeg

Everyone has a story, some are hidden and some uncovered, some are joyful and some full of sadness. Most stories are filled with sprinkles of all. At the center of all these stories is God. With trust in God, there is no fear and the sadness is joyful. With trust, the story is not hidden but offered. In Matthew 17, Jesus tells His disciples if they have faith as small as a mustard seed, they can move mountains. I told this to my daughter one day and in her logical mind, she could not connect faith in God to be enough to move a mountain. Most of us struggle with the logical reasoning of human strength that would take to move a mountain. We would have to be Superman to do this. But the reality is that it’s not our human nature, it’s our faith that God can do it for us.

I’ve seen Him move mountains in my life as my faith began as a tiny mustard seed. In the depths of despair, I had little faith that grew into a lot of faith when a mountain was moved before my very eyes. This mountain was not made of rock although it felt as heavy as a rock as long as I carried it. This mountain consisted of fear, of pain, of helplessness, of shame, and of feelings of not being loved. One day the little faith I had, the small amount of hope moved it out of my way so that I could fulfill God’s journey in my life, so that joy could feel each ounce of that mountain and freedom that dwells in trust could prevail. I won’t say that little bits of this mountain doesn’t show up once in a while, like little hills or speed bumps, but God still does not disappoint and I can still move the hills and the speed bumps with the little seed of trust in the Divine Providence of my Heavenly Father. Try it, move your mountain with the faith and trust you have or acquire a small amount to move that mountain stopping you from being the “best version of yourself”, the person God created you to be.