In the book of Matthew we get a whopping two lines about a woman who had been bleeding for 12 years and she basically sneaks up behind Jesus to touch His cloak, saying to herself that she knew she would be healed if she could just touch that darn cloak!
20 Just then a woman who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak. 21 She said to herself, “If I only touch his cloak, I will be healed.” Matthew 9:20-21
If you do your homework, you will find that this was a HUGE no-no in this day and time. Leviticus Chapter 15 tells us that she was considered to be ceremonially unclean because she had been bleeding. This would be like our kids smelling up the bathroom and then coming to the dinner table without washing their hands – but times 100! It was shocking! It was outrageous! It was despicable!
Not only that, but in Mark 5:26 we find out that she had literally sold all she had to go to physicians to be healed and yet she was still bleeding. And not only did she not get better, she actually grew worse. She was DESPERATE, y’all. Desperate. For. Healing.
I’ve been there. I’ve been to see this doctor and that doctor and rearranged some savings to try this therapy or that therapy. I wasn’t a societal outcast like this woman though. I wonder what would be our modern-day equivalent — maybe someone with AIDs or herpes? A cancer patient who tries chemo but only gets worse and starts to lose control of their bodily functions?
If we keep reading in Mark 5:26, we see that she even came up behind Him, like she was scared of Him or ashamed for Him to see her.
Then she does it.
She touches his garment.
Now it’s time to flee!
But instead, at that very instant He knows and she knows that something has changed. Some kind of exchange has happened.
Can you imagine? Think of your absolute worst day. You don’t want anyone to see you, but you’re desperate for healing. You hear that Jesus is coming and you think to yourself “this is my chance, if only I can TOUCH HIS CLOTHES I know that He can heal me!” So you sneak up behind him, crouching down because you don’t want anyone to see you. You reach out and you do it. You actually touch his garment! And then you know — you can feel it. YOU ARE HEALED! But then… the unspeakable happens. He knows too. He knows that you touched Him AND He knows that He healed you. Your cover is blown.
Luke 8:45: “WHO TOUCHED ME?,” Jesus asked.
Awwwww man! Seriously?!?! This isn’t a drive-thru healing?
After each of the disciples all say “not it”, and Peter tries to tell Jesus he is nuts because they are in a CROWD and of course people are touching Him…. she does it. She finds the courage to tell Him it was her, and she literally does it in front of God and country.
Is your heart beating fast? Mine is.
Jesus then assures her that it wasn’t even her touch that healed her. There was no magic there. Her faith is what healed her.
And so Jesus says in Luke 8:48 Then he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace.”
This woman went from unclean and outcast to trembling before Christ to declare her actions in-front of a CROWD of strangers. And then she was healed. And not only that, but He told her to “go in peace.”
What He did for her right then and there, He did for ALL of us when He was on that cross. While we might not experience drastic and immediate healing physically like she did, we most certainly can experience spiritual healing. I do. Every time I call on His name. And on some days, that is my entire prayer. “Jesus.”
Our church staff read a book written by Jim Collins and I can still see multiple correlations between the ideas presented and the issues that we face in ministry (and life in general). If you haven’t read it, it’s worth your time – but please note – if you aren’t 100% business minded, you might need a dictionary close by.
One of the chapters that I loved in this book, talked about having people in the right place within your business. If you think of your business (or ministry) as a bus, everyone on that bus is bought-in to the mission and headed in the same direction. However, often times we have people sitting in the wrong seats and they become Debbie-Downers. They make the ride miserable for everyone else.
You’re probably already nodding your head because you can think of someone immediately who is the fit-throwing child within your organization. Collins recommends that we simply help them find the right seat on the bus and boom — they turn into a Fred Flintstone, picking that bus up and RUNNING toward the goal. (Why do I think in movie lines? Forrest Gump, anyone?)
I was quite shocked when God first led me into ministry. I was the mom who struggled with the f-bomb. What in the world was I doing in ministry??? The position that I ultimately landed in was about 50% the right seat and 50% the wrong seat. I love people, their stories, and helping them find their right seat on the bus. But keeping up with them and refining their skills turned out to be a real deal breaker for me. Not because I didn’t want to, but because I wasn’t made to.
I believe that God gives us talents, dreams, desires, and even Spiritual Gifts that we are meant to use to do His business here on earth.
1 Corinthians Chapter 12 RDT (Red Neck Translation <– that’s a joke, please don’t go looking for that translation) goes into all the details of how each of us is given something different than someone else – so that – we can work together to git’r done. The Apostle Paul even says that we can’t have ALL the gifts because that would make it pointless to need other people.
If you think about a bus again, it needs things that appear similar to do very different jobs:
It needs wheels and tires.
It needs an engine and pistons.
It needs oil and gas.
If we could ALL dream big, nothing would ever get done. If NONE of us could dream big, we would never invent anything new. Different gifts for different roles. (Did anyone else just sing the Different Strokes theme song?)
My ministry position only nailed 50% of the gifts I was given which meant I was the teeter-totter in our group. I was fired up half the time and the other time I was dragging the anchor and whining. Ultimately, an illness forced me to leave my position on staff, but I finally had the courage to start having conversations on my way out about how I didn’t feel like that job was the right fit for me. No one argued with me on that, probably because they could see it too.
Because God is gracious and He pursues us, I have been added to the church staff a second time – and THIS time my role utilizes 90% of my gifts. 10% of my job is dealing with stuff I don’t feel gifted to do, but it’s necessary and it pushes me to think outside of the box – which is a good thing!
So what, Ann. Yay you. You have a job you love and I hate mine so …whatever. I’m glad you found a job you like.
No. Not “yay Ann” — YAY GOD for being smart enough to give us specific gifts.
Do yourself a favor. Take a Spiritual Gifts Assessment.
I like the Spiritual Assessment tool at Lifeway.com. You can download the PDF here. It is easy to read, understand, and answer. It has a simple scoring tool, AND it includes descriptions of all the gifts. This is not an end-all, be-all test that will show you the path you must take. This is a tool to help you assess why you’re dragging anchor. It’s meant for you to use as a brainstorming tool to figure out how God has specifically gifted YOU.
Google your gifts, talk to your co-workers about them, talk to your family about them. Maybe it’s time for you to have a courageous conversation with your boss. Maybe it’s time for you to lead a ministry at your church.
Maybe it’s time for you to appreciate where you are planted because you’re gifted and meant to be there.
So back to the beginning we go.
Are you on the right bus?
Are you on the right seat of that bus?
If the answer to either question is “no” — then it’s time you do something about it, because Jeremiah 29:11 says that God knows the plans He has for you and if you know you’re on the wrong bus or even the wrong seat — God hasn’t been able to use you the way He needs to.
Fresh out of college, I was given a killer opportunity. I was hired by a telecom giant at 22 years old. I had a great salary, amazing benefits, and opportunities to travel all over the United States. But I wasn’t that great at my job and after only 2 years with the company, I was laid off.
I had a killer severance package and I told my husband that I wanted to do something fun while that severance supported me. Somewhere in those next three months I shifted from, “I am competent and smart and will do a great job” to “Please like me!” Oh, Ann. Yikes.
I got a job at a local craft store where I catered to and assisted a lot of people. It was clear right out of the gates that people liked me. And DANG that felt good! After only a month, I was promoted to a management position and I thought things were going really well for this college graduate (who was working retail to hide from the fact that she royally screwed up her opportunity of a lifetime).
But trouble started when I began to notice some inner workings that I didn’t like, and certainly didn’t agree with. But remember I wanted people to like me, so I chose not to ruffle feathers. The talk about customers behind their backs made me feel dirty.
Even more mortifying than hearing the conversations was PARTICIPATING in the conversations, which easily led to conversations about co-workers behind their backs as well. I crossed the line, just to be liked.
I drew the line when I overheard and witnessed conversation about ME. Funny, isn’t it? It was so easy to participate in the conversation until I knew they were talking about me too. Only THEN did I draw the line. At about this time, social media was starting to pop up here and there (no smartphones yet thank the Lord) and I found out that I was being talked about via email and social media mostly because I stood up and said “hey – this isn’t cool – at all.” (However, I’m in my young 20’s at this point and I probably had the complete package of entitlement with a red bow of attitude to go along with my soap box speech.) Before I knew it, my entire goal to get people to like me turned into a 911 call-to-arms to put out all the social media fires. I was crushed. I BAWLED over the phone to my college roommate.
But I thought they liked me!
I thought they liked me.
As the book of Joshua starts, Moses has just passed away and the leadership “torch” has been passed to Joshua. One of the first few things he has to do is conquer Jericho. I could have learned a lot from Joshua back in my early days of adulthood. Joshua didn’t care what everyone else thought, even though he was about to ask them to act a little crazy.
“Ok guys, we’re going to walk around this sucker once every day – but you can’t say a WORD. Then on the 7th day, we will walk around this sucker SEVEN times, the priests will blow their horns and we’re going to get crazy up in here with our voices! I mean, I want to REALLY hear you, people! Then the walls will fall down and the Lord will make it easy for us to defeat our enemies. Trust me on this, He personally told me this is how it will go down.” (MAJOR paraphrase of Joshua 6:1-11)
Joshua did what he knew was right, even though he was about to ask for his troops to commit to a crazy battle plan. He didn’t care if the people didn’t like him. There was work to be done.
It has taken me years to overcome this people-pleasing problem. I think I’m fairly close to conquering it, and then I fail miserably again in a single conversation. But this is what I love about scripture: I’m going to change, but scripture isn’t. The truths within will still be applicable to me 3 years from now when I’m wondering where I went wrong… again.
Father, fill me with your spirit so that appreciation from people has no room to soak into me. Bring me back to scripture to see how to live and how not to live. THANK YOU for believing in me, even though I screw things up over and over again. That kind of love is inspiring, refreshing, and so very comforting. Remind me that I don’t need others to like me because you LOVE me more deeply than my mind can understand… and that’s all I need. AMEN
Often times I feel like I have too much going on in my life — too many hurts, too many stressors, too many things on my list that need to get done, too many errands to run, too many people to call, too many emails to respond to — it all feels like too much.
And then your typical Christian would tell you to pick up your bible and read God’s Word, or go to church, or a typical Catholic would tell you to pray through the rosary. And for crying out loud, don’t let anyone see that you’re struggling because — you’re a Christian and you’re supposed to have it all together! Slap a Christian fish on the back of your car and make us look good!
Really? Because if that’s the case, then maybe this “Christian” gig isn’t for me. I NEVER have it all together!
We hear people say things like “God doesn’t give you more than you can handle” – but I disagree with that. I think LIFE will give us a ton more than we can handle, and God is just waiting waiting waiting for us to run to Him and say “Take this!!!! ALL of this! Calm me down, God because I’m about to completely FREAK OUT over here!” I don’t believe that God is sitting in the heavens like someone who is getting cream poured into his coffee just waiting to say “woah” when it’s just the right amount.
I think it’s our responsibility to notice when it’s too much for us – and then do something about it. You know what your too much feels like. Maybe you’re feeling it right now and you’re “escaping” from your too much by scrolling through Twitter or Facebook. You’re going to the wrong place – I know because I do it too. (but feel free to finish reading before you close your browser tab!)
28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 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. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” – Matthew 11:28-30 NIV
The Bible overwhelms me – I don’t know where to start on my own. So instead I go to some of my favorite Christian blogs or read my favorite devotional, or even read another chapter in a book that is helping me grow through some of my personal issues. (see a list of my favorite resources at the bottom of this post) When one of those resources touches on a passage in scripture that hits me right between the eyes, THEN I go to my bible and I dig deeper. I read the footnotes. I read the correlating passages that are written in the margins. And then I close my eyes and pray.
My prayers aren’t going to sound like your prayers. My faith isn’t going to move and breathe like your faith. My learning isn’t going to mirror your learning.
In the passage from Matthew listed above, Jesus talks about His yoke being easy. I learned from Jen Hatmaker at the #reckless2013 conference that “yoke” is a term that means “specific ways or methods.” The religious leaders were all bent out of shape about praying this way or that way, don’t hang out with the sinful people, do this, don’t do that. When disciples of rabbi’s literally followed and mirrored the rabbi, the specific things that rabbi did were called his yoke. Hello!!!! TOO MUCH! It’s like trying to learn a complicated line dance for someone with no rhythm… it’s just too much.
Jesus says, “my yoke is easy” — oh thank God… literally. “…and my burden is light” — good because I have enough burdens already!
The bottom line is that it’s your responsibility to go to God. He is there waiting for you. The way you go to God doesn’t have to look like everyone else’s way, or sound like everyone else’s sounds. And following Jesus isn’t complicated. No training is required, you can just jump right in. Following Jesus isn’t too much, it’s the RELIEF from the too much that you have everywhere else in your life.
And for the record, a Christian fish on the back of the car tells me that person knows he is a sinner and that he isn’t perfect. He knows he has to RUN to Jesus because that’s where the burden is light and I’m totally down with that way of thinking.
Give me all your burdens… um, GO FISH! Go Fish or Go Home! I once saw an ichthys bumper sticker THIS BIG!
Well… it happened again.
The bitter-Betty in me came out.
I know, we’ve had this discussion before. And yes, I know better. And I know God created us all different. And I know that I don’t have to look like someone else to be valued and to feel good about myself. AND, I know that I could make better food choices. And I know that I am wonderfully made … and I know that I could … blah blah blah.
So if I know all of this, why does Betty still come visit? She’s never invited, she just shows up! She typically shows up when I’m struggling through some pain and know it’s time to sit my rear down to rest. I feel guilty sitting down, and she knows that. I don’t want to sit down, and Betty knows that too.
I want to volunteer at my son’s school and go have lunch with him. I want to make cute things off Pinterest for my front door or trim up my flowers and bushes around the house. I want to make my house look nice and work on curtains for another room. I want to go for a run. I want to go out and have lunch with friends. I want to go to all of the birthday parties and baby showers and dinners we are invited to. I want to go meet at the park with other parents so our kids can run around and play.
But I know that I should be resting.
So I “rest.”
And feel bitter.
Enter Betty, stage right: Betty points out all the people who take for granted all of those things that I WANT to do. She will show me who is skinny. She will show me who can run marathons. She will remind me who the “cool moms” are. She will want me to look at Facebook so that I can compare all of my shortcomings to other people’s strengths, and she will want me to zoom in on all of the pictures from parties or lunches that I couldn’t attend. Her favorite thing to do is remind me that I don’t get invited to many things anymore. Ooooo, she loves that one! It’s a real zinger and she knows it.
Don’t be impressed with your own wisdom. Instead, fear the Lord and turn away from evil. then you will have healing for your body and strength for your bones. Proverbs 3:7-8 NLT
My own wisdom: all the things I know
Turn away from evil: stewing and bitterness – and for crying out loud, turn away from BETTY!
Healing for my body: stop stewing = true resting = healing for my body
Strength for my bones: my bones are my framework, if my framework is stronger I’m less likely to crumble under pressure
My darling husband recently reminded me that it was much much harder for me to have to say “no” to the lunches, and showers, and parties, and ladies nights out than it is for me to not be invited to many anymore. Because the truth is, packing my schedule full of all of those things isn’t healthy for me. It will run me into the ground and my immune system will tank. And I know this. (reference wisdom bullet point above)
I have some spectacular friends who remind me gently to take some things off my schedule. And I am so appreciative of that. Because they help me do something that I sometimes struggle to do on my own.
I struggle to make the right choice.
It’s time to start choosing the path on which Betty is NOT standing with her coffee cup in-hand, eager to gossip and compare me to other people in my life. Betty isn’t healthy for me. And she isn’t healthy for you either.
In the past 7 years, the hardest Christian concept for me to grasp has been understanding how to give God the glory and remain humble.
I’m a do-er by nature. I don’t sit still very well. I’m also very transparent; I don’t have much to hide. And the things I “hide” from people are just things that would gross them out or things I know not everyone can appreciate.
I thought being humble meant I could never talk about the cool things happening all around me and in me! I learned a hard lesson in separating the definitions of bragging and letting God have the glory… uh multiple times actually. I think it’s perfectly biblical to help others. And I also think it’s completely against biblical teaching to let your good deeds shine for all to see. I think that’s bragging.
“In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” – Matthew 5:16
“Um Ann, you just contradicted yourself.”
“Actually, no. I didn’t.”
(pretend conversation between you and me, in case you were wondering)
Jesus says to let our LIGHT shine so that they may see our good deeds – the good deeds that are meant to glorify God, not ourselves. I have come to understand that when Jesus is IN me, I am the light of the world. When I am not representing Jesus and glorifying God (AKA bragging), I am like one of those cheap little flashlights that you have to smack on the side to fire up the puny little light bulb. I admit it, sometimes I need a good smack on the side of the head.
I tried on humility like you try on 15 pairs of jeans before you find the ones that fit right. Each time I failed and I could feel myself wanting to brag. The desire to brag never went away. But this weekend was different.
Our church hosts an incredibly cool fall picnic each year called Punkin’ Chunkin’, and I had the pleasure of co-leading it for the second year in a row. The event was to be held on Sunday afternoon. Now, if you’ve ever planned a party you know that the planning and purchasing starts months in advance. Hosting a church picnic is no different. The set-up we did on Sunday was like putting the last few pieces into a puzzle… it was almost complete.
And then it started to mist. And rained. And misted. And it was super cloudy outside.
I couldn’t stop praying, in fact I think I might have been begging in there at some point. “God, this picnic is for your people to celebrate all you have done, PLEASE take the rain away! I don’t need sun or anything drastic, just no more moisture! Please bless our efforts to spend this kingdom money wisely, bless our time spent planning so that your children can embrace joy and community for three hours today! Let people see a great example of a healthy and non-judgmental Christian community here on the land you have given to us!
One of the families that was helping us set up in the rain had a precious 7 year old girl and her prayer was this, “God, please stop the rain.” I saw her resting her elbows on a pumpkin, praying for God to stop that rain. And you know what? He did. Not a drop fell on us at our event.
So in the end, when people were congratulating us on a job well done guess what happened? I knew it wasn’t all me, or all my co-leader, or all the volunteers… I completely felt 100% secure giving God the credit. Through Him we had multitudes of people wanting to serve. Through Him we had joy and safety and blessings. It was for Him, and through Him, that the picnic was a successful event.
And yes, I let my light shine for all to see.
No, I did not let my good deed shine for all to see.
And in reference to the C.S. Lewis quote above, I was able to accept the compliments and the thanks from people for a job well done because it was indeed a lot of hard work and planning. However, I was very quick to make sure that my thanks led to God getting the spotlight.
And guess what?
It wasn’t hard.
Because my heart is finally in the right place.
And my cheap flashlight is in the trash where it belongs.
I live with chronic pain. While my husband doesn’t physically have chronic pain, he too has to live with it. He lives with mine. Neither of us got manuals on how to live with this incredibly unfortunate disease, and sometimes that shows. We think we are in a good rhythm and then our roller coaster cars drop from the highest peak and take us screaming through tight turns and unexpected plunges.
We just want off the roller coaster. Amen?
From my perspective, here’s where my ticket to ride stems from:
I think I can handle more, so I take on more. And then … I can’t handle it. I panic. Then I get sad. Usually my over-commitment comes in the form of wanting to bring in more money so my husband doesn’t pass out from exhaustion.
I feel like I have already given up so much of what used to make up my “normal” life, that I cling to the last few things I do/have until my knuckles turn white.
My joy can be depleted on day 3 of immense pain – and then I am a grumpasaurus rex to my family, complete with drooling and teeth baring.
And here’s where my husband’s ticket to ride comes into play:
He wants to be helpful but he. is. exhausted. He is working full-time (and then some for extra money), he cooks, he makes lunches, he does laundry, he cleans, he mows, he does repairs on the house, and sometimes he actually gets to go out with a friend for guy time.
He never knows what kind of day I’m having, therefore he never knows what he will be walking in the door to find after work, which is totally not fair and makes him put on a defensive suit somewhere between his truck and the door to the house.
He sees my tennis match of emotions (back and forth, back and forth) and he so badly wants me to just figure out that I’m different now and I have to act in accordance with my limitations.
Hold the phone. I have limitations?
For the love of all things chronic – if you’re reading this and you suffer from chronic pain, YOU HAVE LIMITATIONS! And guess what, if you’re reading this and you don’t suffer from chronic pain, YOU HAVE LIMITATIONS!
Why do I sometimes think I can do it all? And I mean all. It is usually about the time I am half-way through my grocery list in the store when the fatigue slams me, my feet start to spasm, and I have this overwhelming feeling to lay down on the packages of toilet paper on the shelf when I realize — “oh crap, I did it again.”
I want off this ride. I didn’t ask to ride. I want this ticket revoked!
Tough circus peanuts. These are the cards I have been dealt. I, Ann Skaehill, have fibromyalgia and a weak immune system. I think it’s fair to say, this roller coaster is here to stay and it’s time for me to grow up and accept it. I need to appreciate and care for my family FIRST before I fill my schedule with things that make me feel good about myself. I need to be grateful for medications that can help with a few issues and TAKE THEM. (Lord have mercy, medication is a whole blog post in itself!)
I’m getting there, but I’m not there yet. I think if I can embrace this new reality more firmly, then the turns and drops on the roller coaster won’t be so alarming or drastic. For me, or my husband.
Two days ago my 10-year-old son said, “Hey mom? You know how sometimes you just get so mad at me for things I do or should have done? … Well, maybe you can start giving me a sign that I should go in another room. Why don’t you blink four times and I’ll take off running!”
Reality check. When I open my mouth to speak, my son is flinching and expecting the worst. That is a huge problem that I have addressed over the past 2 days with him. Grumpasaurus rex may still appear from time to time, but I’m working towards her extinction. Ain’t nobody got time for the damage a dinosaur makes in the modern age.
Today is a new day, and the Bible tells us in Psalm 30:5 that joy comes in the morning. Embrace your clean slate, and make wise choices today. First on my list? Washing all the sheets in the house and ensuring my family has good food to eat. What should be first on your list today?