Sunday, October 14, 2018

A Time to Heal

A Time to Heal

I am slowly making my way through Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 this month. I'm using the contrasts found in those verses as a way to reflect on the season of life I am in at the moment. In a weekly newsletter I receive from Shelly Miller about Sabbath, she is slowly working through the 23rd Psalm. This morning I opened her email and read these words: 

"He restores my soul." Psalm 23:3

Did those words stop you in your tracks and make you catch your breath, as they did for me? God restores my soul. He restores me. Those are comforting, encouraging, hope-filled words.

I was planning on just skipping over the next line in Ecclesiastes 3:3 - "A time to kill and a time to heal." In my initial reading of it there just seemed to be so much that is similar to what I wrote about verse 2 "a time to be born and a time to die", that I simply thought it would be redundant. That is, until I read the words above from Psalm 23:3. How can I skip over a verse about healing and restoration, topics that are dear to my heart?

Last weekend my church held our annual leader's retreat. We began our day with a passage of Scripture to reflect on with the practice of lectio divina (a way to reflect and meditate slowly on Scripture). The passage used was Luke 9:23-25, a very familiar passage about denying self and following Jesus. But the leader of this session used an unfamiliar version, The New English Bible.
"And to all he said, 'If anyone wishes to be a follower of mine, he must leave self behind; day after day he must take up his cross and come with me. Whoever cares for his own safety is lost; but if a man will let himself be lost for my sake, that man is safe. What will a man gain by winning the whole world, at the cost of his true self." NEB
It can be a good practice to read passages of Scripture, especially familiar ones, in different versions. Many times we hear or see something in a different light. In Jesus' day, to take up a cross was equivalent to a death march. The cross in those days was a manner of execution. In this passage the thing being executed is self. As I reflected on this passage at the retreat I thought about another passage where Jesus says we "cannot serve two masters" (Matthew 6:24). There Jesus was contrasting the love of money and the love of God, but I think it can also be applied to anything that takes our focus and devotion off of God. So, here in this passage, it seems to be a question of mastery - who has control of your life, you or God? 

The next thing I notice is that Jesus says, "if a man will let himself be lost for my sake...". The words "let himself be" indicate two things to me. First, Jesus will not force us to give Him control of our lives. He prefers a voluntary sacrifice; an intentional devotion. Then I notice that these words also convey rest and trust - let yourself be - let go of control, loosen your grasp, release. Then lean on Jesus, depend on His control of your life. What do you gain by loosening your grasp on controlling your own self and turning control over to Jesus? Your true self. It is a burdensome weight carrying the yoke of our false self - the one trying to please the whole world, trying to gain more and more, trying to be more and more - more powerful, more successful, more beautiful, more accomplished, more _______ - you fill in the blank. Jesus gave us a glimpse of what life is like when we give Him control.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30
When we release the burden of carrying around our false self and give up control of our life to Jesus, our load is light and we find rest. So, while we do need to die to self, as I wrote about a few days ago, we can take the steps necessary to do so knowing that God promises rest and restoration. Healing of our self comes as we place our-self before God and let our-self be lost in Him. He will heal and restore your soul.

Ask God to examine your heart and life and reflect on these questions:
  • Ask God to reveal areas of your life where you may be clinging to control. Pray for His enabling power to help you let go and release control to Him.
  • What needs to be put to death? What habits or attitudes?
  • Where do you need healing and restoration?
  • Where do you need to experience rest?
  • What practices help you rest?
  • Maybe you need to remind yourself today of places you have already released control and remember God's faithfulness in carrying you. What are those places? Celebrate them today.

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1 comment:

  1. Thank you for sharing this Mary. It resonates so much with me right now. Yes, a time to heal.