CC Vincepal, Flickr
What is it that halts you from serving God? I mean, the way you know you’re called? Maybe you’re already walking in your calling, and that’s great; but many people aren’t. Can we be honest and admit that sometimes there are areas in our lives that keep us struggling at fulfilling God’s purpose for us?
Am I qualified? Will I fail? What if others learn this about me? How do I overcome this sin? Is God pleased with me?
Let me share a text with you that the Lord shows me when this pattern forms in my head.
Jesus and the Lepers
Luke 17 features the account of ten lepers who encounter Jesus on his journey to Jerusalem. It’s a popular passage because of the one leper who returns to thank Jesus and perhaps for the amazing level of faith that characterizes both Jesus and the lepers.
The Law of Moses imposed several requirements on the leprous (Lev. 13-14). They include procedures for diagnosing and confirming healing, instructions on ceremonial cleansing and reintroduction into society, as well as rules for confinement. For instance, lepers were required to: 1) tear their clothes and leave their hair uncombed; 2) cover their mouths and call out “Unclean!”; and 3) live in isolation outside of their villages as long as the disease remained (13:45-46).
Leprosy upended a person’s life in every conceivable way physically, emotionally, and socially.
Verses 12 and 13 say, “They stood at a distance and called out in a loud voice, ‘Jesus, Master, have pity on us!’”. We gather that their band was perhaps travelling toward Jesus and his disciples and, removing themselves to maintain the required distance, recognized him and made their desperate plea.
God’s Unrelenting Call
CC Dan Grogan, Flickr
This is where I always discover myself. They stood at a distance—because parts of them were not normal and unacceptable and sick and putrid. And people often correctly surmise this about areas of their character, morality, or actions. It doesn’t mean they are not fully clothed in the righteousness of Christ, but the unwholesome areas of their lives are nothing less than a festering sore that continually antagonizes the call of God in their lives.
In their minds the distance between them and engaging God’s call is a canyon of woe.
I pause to praise the God who sees us right where we are, knows how we hurt, and understands our desire to please him even when we aren’t everything we should be. David wrote, “You have searched me, Lord, and you know me…you are familiar with all my ways” (Ps. 139:1, 3).
When Jesus saw them, he matter-of-factly stated, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” This meant they would have to walk for about a week and nearly 70 miles south to Jerusalem to show evidence of their wellbeing, which they did not yet possess and that Jesus did not expressly communicate (read my Crazy Faith).
What leaps out and pierces my heart here—especially when I’m assailed by “Me questions”—is the character of Jesus’s compassion toward these folk. He sends them on their way with only an expectation, one hinged on their obedience. He doesn’t heal them outright or interact much with them; and whether they murmured as Naaman had hundreds of years before is inconsequential; they obeyed. They clung to his word and the certitude that by the time they reached the priests, they would be whole.
This is how the Lord reassures me and quiets my fears, calling me out of the shadows: he tells me to keep moving forward, that his purpose for me remains, that my hang ups don’t disqualify me. He promises me that there is hope for what I don’t have the ability and strength to heal. And he asks for my obedience and trust, for he will heal me as I go, following his commands.