Friday, February 1, 2013

Healing For Our Sickness

By Kristen Leigh Evensen
I caught the bug.

I went to bed several days ago with the cranial sensation of being hit by a train. I hoped it would depart before waking the next day. No luck. I proceeded to stumble to the kitchen, hoping that breakfast and some needed caffeine would boost my health. But no go.

"Take a sick day", my roommate suggested. "That's what they're for, you know."

A bit of background: Before this year, I worked as a freelance performer, auditioning in the city while working four different jobs to make ends meet. There was no such thing as a "sick day". If I fell ill, I either took the pay dock, or sucked it up and worked anyway. I never knew such a thing until recently.

And now, though this gift of a sick day was being offered to me, I was ready to refuse it and push onward in my own strength. I convinced myself that there was no need to stay home, that I could "get through". I actually felt guilty considering a sick day at all.

Seriously, though, what a silly conclusion! After mulling it over some more, I finally decided that I would accept the offer of a day to heal, instead of trying to push through on my own strength. And I immediately felt a rush of relief and deep gratitude that such a burden would be lifted from my shoulders.

Jesus freely grants us something of a similar nature--but in light of the gospel, we needn't even accrue "work hours" to earn it! God extends the gift of His grace to everyone because, quite frankly, all of us are spiritually "sick" without it. Our hearts are selfishly bent, prone to desire the things of the world. And no matter how hard we work, we cannot achieve goodness by ourselves. We mess up every day, making mistakes, poor decisions, and hurting other people and ourselves.

But God sees and knows our selfish hearts--and He loves us the same. His grace is the answer to our sickness of heart.

Ephesians 2 reads:

8 God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. 9 Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. 10 For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.
Just as a day off was given to me for healing purposes, so God's grace is given to the spiritually sick to restore our very souls to Himself. Paul tells us that grace is not something we work to attain; we cannot take any credit for it. We do not have to put in hours "on the job" to be gifted the grace of God.
God, in all His perfect love for you, desires to give you the best gift--Himself. Grace grants you a restored relationship to God, eternal life with Him, and adoption into His family...simply because you believed in faith that only God can make your heart good, clean and whole. If you take a few moments to consider what God has given to you in grace, it is truly mindblowing! Almost unfathomable for human understanding because we are foolishly determined to save ourselves, by our own strength.
Humans love checks and balances, an economical mindset, and interaction based upon equal exchanges and fairness. Our flesh even operates on selfish ulterior motives at times. "If you do this for me, then I'll do that for you." But God sees you as His masterpiece, His beloved creation. His ways are not our ways--instead of giving us what we deserve, He offers us grace instead.
What will you choose? 

Just as I could have chosen to opt out of a sick day despite my sickness, so you can choose to refuse God and live independently of Him, despite your need for healing. God will never force His healing upon you because He wants you to choose Him freely. God has no ulterior motive. He loves you purely. He wants the best for you. In fact, He loves you enough that He would even give you the option not to choose Him.

What will you do with your sickness? Let us turn to the Healer, and realize the enormity of His grace. He longs to shower us with it!

Gracious Father, Your perfection and love are unfathomable to human understanding. But we long to know the riches of your grace, to understand how deep is Your love for us. Soften our hearts to admit that we cannot do right by ourselves. Humble us to accept Your free gift, knowing that only You can truly heal us and restore us to Yourself. We don't want to live like we have to earn Your love. May we live in freedom because of Your love. Thank You for creating us as Your masterpieces!

Amen.

What is God challenging you with today? When have you tried to heal yourself?

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