Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy,[a] drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give. Matthew 10:8
I sat in my car after having just left yet another doctor’s appointment and announced out loud, “I hate doctors!” One more doctor who treated me with some level of impatience all the while acknowledging I needed surgery. But then I took a step back from my prideful emotions and realized this person – a man of flesh and blood – was gifted by God the ability to heal me. I didn’t need him as a friend, I need him as a healer. And I gave thanks for his able hands and depth of knowledge concerning my medical issue.
Jesus said to him, “Get up, take up your bed, and walk.” John 5:8
I was reminded of the scene by the healing pool when Jesus encountered the invalid who had been laying by the pool for 38 years. Jesus simply asked, “Do you want to be healed?” And then told him to get moving. And I realized how much I expect my doctors to be the tender, compassionate Jesus. But even Jesus himself was a no nonsense healer.
My own daughter is a doctor of physical therapy. She’s a pretty no nonsense kind of person. She’s also very good at her job. When her patients are done with treatments, or during the holidays, they shower her with loving, thoughtful gifts. It’s because, while she is good at listening to their needs, what they truly want is healing and she delivers.
I’ve had kind doctors, rude doctors, dismissive doctors, attentive ones. I have to admit that just about all of them have done what I needed them for – healing. Doing something for me that I could never do myself. So, while I may not like every doctor’s bedside manner, I can say a prayer while sitting in the “big chair” thanking God for their skill and for the healing that is to come. And I pray for me to have patience and kindness in between.
On hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” Mark 2:17
“We are pretty much the only hope that God has for reaching people who need him.”
On a recent visit with my daughter back in St. Louis, Missouri, she invited me to her friend’s 50th birthday gathering. It was to be just a small group as her larger party had already taken place. My daughter, who is 23, is blessed to have a number of women in her life who are not only mature in their marriages and in life in general, but in their faith. As I sat listening to them, I said a silent prayer of thanks to God. He, once again, put me right where I needed to be.
I listened as these Christian women of varied ages shared memories of shared events and the joy of being disciples to younger women. You see, their church encourages all ages to seek being discipled by more experienced Christians – something I haven’t experienced in the 20 years I’ve been an active Christian.
The birthday girl’s good friend suddenly announced we were to all take turns expressing what we loved about the newly christened 50 year old. She turned to me and said, “You don’t know Renee well so you don’t need to say anything.” I disagreed. I definitely had much to love about this woman that I had just met.
As each woman spoke, I felt the love flow throughout the group. It was sweet and brave and authentic. And at my turn I’m sure they all wondered what I would have to say.
“As a mother I miss my daughter terribly. She’s so far away. She has no family for hundreds of miles. And now with a baby on the way it grieves me that she is alone out here. But I realize she isn’t. I am so thankful she has Renee as her friend and godly counsel. A mother couldn’t ask for anything better besides being here herself,” I said.
You see my daughter’s friend, Renee, has taken her under her beautiful wings. She provides wise counsel about marriage, faith, motherhood and more. I could be jealous when I hear my daughter talk about her relationship with Renee. But my faith progression has brought me instead to a place of thankfulness. My daughter is incredibly blessed to be surrounded by Christian women who are prepared and ready to offer Biblical counsel.
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free" Luke 4:18
That’s Jesus in the above verse. Jesus our wise counselor setting us free from our prisons. And He trained up His disciples to spread His message of salvation and freedom. Like the old shampoo commercial goes, “and they told two friends and so on and so on.” Which brings us thousands of years later to this little group at a café in Missouri.
Here’s what I noticed about those six women I sat with that night. 1) They didn’t gossip 2) They lifted each other up with genuine compliments 3) They showed love and concern for each other 4) They were confident in expressing their faith and 5) They were eager and willing to take up being disciples.
"Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20
These women are living the Great Commission. Teaching and guiding and loving Jesus’ flock. I sat there like a fan-girl marveling at being in the midst of ordinary women who were so extraordinary. Yes, ordinary women. They aren’t pastors or scholars although one is in fact a trained Christian counselor. They are students of Jesus. It gave me hope of what I could achieve with faith and the blessings of God.
I took the opportunity to ask a few of them a Christian counseling question.
“If I find myself in a situation with a fellow Christian who is struggling with an issue, what’s your best advice?” I inquired.
Without hesitation three of the women, including my daughter who herself disciples young women, said: “You need to really get to know the person. There needs to be a sense of trust that you come from a place of love.” And the birthday girl? She emphasized my old favorite, truth plus love. Not being afraid to speak God’s truth into someone from a loving perspective. Remember that Jesus trait of having a warrior spirit? Renee takes it to heart. She knows the end game – saving a soul.
“As you being the process of bringing correction into someone’s life, put yourself in his shoes. If you were the one sitting there, would it be easy or difficult for you to hear what is about to be said? If the person you are correcting acts closed at first it may be that he’s just embarrassed or reacting out of insecurity. Therefore don’t stop the conversation unless you can see that he’s just being combative. You need to be patient and slow in judging their reaction to your correction.”
Rick Renner, Sparkling Gems from the Greek
Isn’t this the reaction we worry about the most when we need to speak truth to our Christian friends or family members? A fear of making someone angry or embarrassed? But here lies the reason why “Wise Counselor” sits at the end of our faith progression. Without love, without a sense of serving God, without courage, without knowledge of the Lord’s will, we will probably fail at being what our friend, child, sibling, co-worker, or sister in Christ truly needs.
So, when Jesus asks us to “follow” He isn’t just offering Himself up to save us from eternal damnation which by itself is a pretty amazing gift. He’s saying “join me in a journey.” He’s saying, “we’ve got work to do together.” And if we stop partway on the journey and decide we are “fine” where we are at, we miss the opportunities He wants to put in front of us to free more captives.
I don’t know about you but I need wise Christian counselors in my life. And if I could be like Renee and be a blessing in other’s lives, I know it’d make Jesus smile. My imperfect progress, as my friend Betsy likes to say, is still progress. I want to know and live out having the mind of Christ. I’m not where I was when I started and I still have a ways to go. Thankfully, I can trust that Jesus and the Holy Spirit are my guides and cheerleaders.
When we started this journey, I invited you to say a prayer of confession I found in Sparkling Gems from the Greek. And true to God’s ways He put another in front of me to close out this series. Please join me in this prayer and confession. I pray that you seek love, humbleness, courage, and wisdom on your journey.
“Lord, I ask you to help be kind and patient when it is essential for me to bring correction. Help me to not be offended if the person I’m trying to help doesn’t respond at first the way I wished he would have. Help me put myself in that person’s shoes and to sympathize with how he might feel. I ask You to give me wisdom to know what to say, when to say it, and how to say it. I also ask that You give the other person the grace to hear what I am telling him so he might see that I have his best interest at heart and that I am only trying to help him. I pray this in Jesus’ name!”
“I confess that I have the mind of Jesus Christ! When it is needful to me to speak correction to someone else I do it with love, kindness and patience. I refrain from allowing anger to rise up inside me. I am careful about the words that come out of my mouth, and I refuse to participate in vain arguing. I remain in control of myself as the Holy Spirit works mightily inside me. My words bring life to all who hear and receive them! I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!”
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.Ephesians 2:10
A prayer to love myself
Heavenly Father, so many of my perceived short falls come from my poor sense of self-worth. I look in the mirror sometimes and to be honest I don’t always see what you see – a beautifully, wonderfully made daughter of God. And I confess that my lack of love for your creation can spill over to my inability to openly love others without judgment. But I don’t want to grieve the Holy Spirit any longer. My heart, body, mind and soul were created by and belong to you, LORD. With the reminders found in your Holy Word to love my neighbor as myself I will look into that mirror with newfound love and admiration for your creation. Thank you for my life, thank you for making me uniquely me. I lift this up in Jesus’ name, Amen
I sat and listened to her tell me how she feels unworthy, unlovable, lacking talent and more. It made me so sad because she was none of these. What made me even sadder was I realized I’ve frequently thought the same about myself. I look in the mirror and think, “You look old, unattractive, chubby, wrinkly – very non cover of Vogue-like.” And then I turn to my closet and evaluate which clothes will fit me that day. Tearing myself down for gaining those few extra pounds. And the piece d’ resistance? Wondering if what I’m going to accomplish that day will be of any value.
I was listening to a pastor the other day who was in the middle of a series on committing our whole bodies – heart, mind and soul – to God. She went on to talk about how when we struggle with self-worth it affects everything about our lives. If we get into a mild argument with our spouse, we might believe they obviously think we are stupid or worthless simply because they disagree with our opinion. We grasp for people outside ourselves to build us up but when they do, we don’t always trust their motives.
For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my
mother’s womb. I praise you
because I am fearfully and
wonderfully made;your works are
wonderful,I know that full well.Psalm 139:13-14
How many of us can truly say, “I know that full well?” We easily quote scripture proclaiming that God loves us. But do we really believe it?
Some of us were fortunate to grow up in loving homes which shot us out into the world with a great sense of belonging and love. That sense gets attacked regularly by the world. And those of those who didn’t start out that way also experience those attacks of the world. It’s no wonder, starting from a lack of a filled bucket, that so many of us plunge into self-destruction and self-loathing.
When, during a particularly difficult time of false self-evaluation, I looked in the mirror and realized how dishonoring I was being to God. And that if I could just start with the acknowledgement that God made me and knows me then maybe, just maybe I could grow to love me just as He does.
We must rest in the glory and amazing work of God in order to fully be His warriors. That starts with us. No matter your thick or thin hair, your smooth skin or wrinkles, your short or tall stature, your past, the job you have (or don’t), your ability to arrange flowers or pick the perfect wall color, your knowledge about science or the humanities, God loves you. He loves me. I am wonderfully and beautifully made. I just need to keep telling that to the girl in the mirror.
If you want this too, add the prayer to your daily prayer list and watch and see how God works in your life!