Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Jump On Up

There is a part in each of our hearts that wants to help others and allows us to respond compassionately to people in need. Sometimes we must realize that at times it is ourselves that need that extra push, we are the ones that require assistance beyond our own abilities. We desire someone who understands our limitations and is able to take up our slack.
A man with leprosy came to Him and begged Him on his knees, "If you are willing, you can make me clean." Filled with compassion, Jesus reached out His hand and touched the man. "I am willing," He said. "Be clean!" Immediately the leprosy left him and he was cured. Jesus sent him away at once with a strong warning: "See that you don't tell this to anyone. But go, show yourself to the priest and offer the sacrifices that Moses commanded for your cleansing, as a testimony to them." Instead he went out and began to talk freely, spreading the news. As a result, Jesus could no longer enter a town openly but stayed outside in lonely places. Yet the people still came to him from everywhere.
--Mark 1:40-45
In the life of Jesus, we always see great compassion. It is widely understood that God's love extends to those who are considered "untouchable" or "unclean". Throughout scripture we can read of the people who came to Jesus, people who whose lives were in disarray and chaos, people faced with illness and disappointment. People wracked with grief, the diseased, the broken ones.

The truth is that we are all broken in some way. We deal with our addictions, our selfishness. We face stressful work situations and depression. We realize how we let down our friends and loved ones, and wallow in our inabilities.

Why do I so often lack the courage of the leper? I have an open pass. We can't we take our needs directly to the Lord? So quickly and easily I forget His outstretched hand over my life.

I think perhaps it is to easy for me to idealize some perfect standard of worthiness. To imagine that God only loves those who measure up to a certain standard. His grace must surely be reserved for those of certain righteousness and goodness. I become mired in my own feeling of uncleanliness and worthlessness. In my own mind I remove myself from my family, my friends, my God.

Somehow, He always finds a way to remind me that I come into His presence because of His love and His love alone. It is by His grace and not by my works.

Remember the confidence of the little child in the presence of his loving parents. It brings to mind when my children run to greet me. When I am sitting on the couch, they run and jump into my lap, and crawl all over me. My son doesn't ask if it is okay, he just does it, and I love it dearly. He has confidence that he can draw close to me, that I would welcome them, and they did not need to ask permission.

Jesus tells us that we should look on our relationship with God as children who know that they are loved by a loving parent. We don't need to ask permission first. We can just jump up on His lap (as it were) and we know that He'll always be happy to see us, He always longs to enjoy our company.

I guess it can be hard to remember. But even if some days I feel like a leper, even if I'm having a bad hair day, or battling my low self-esteem, even on those days (or maybe especially on those days!) I can come to my loving Father just as I am.

If only the doing were as easy as the doing.

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