"Did you say, Abe Lincoln?"
"No I didn't say Abe Lincoln, I said, 'Hey Blinkin'."
That's about the only line that sticks out to me from the movie, "Robin Hood, Men in Tights". For whatever reason I think of that line often and find myself quoting it out loud, usually to no one in particular. As those goofy lines ran through my head today, I began to think about the idea of being misunderstood.
Two of the most frustrating things are being misunderstood and consistently, not understanding what's going on around you. Regardless of where you find yourself, both ends can leave you feeling like banging your head against the wall. How is it that what seems so clear in your mind can not be manifested into coherent words and sentences that others can comprehend? Why is that everyone else seems to be clicking right along with a particular project or concept and you feel like you are completely in the dark, clueless as to what's happening?
As I've thought about this idea I was reminded of the number of times that Jesus was misunderstood by His disciples, the religious leaders of the day, His own family and really just about everyone He came into contact with while He walked the earth. What was so clear to Christ - His mission, His purpose, His ultimate goal, all were misunderstood by those around Him.
In Mark the 3rd chapter, Jesus' mother and brothers come looking for Him, presumably trying to figure out what He was doing? Of course, the religious leaders had no idea what was going on and even those in His own town of Nazareth demonstrate confusion as to His purposes. The Gospels are full of examples of His own disciples demonstrating complete ignorance as to what Jesus' mission was all about, some of them were looking for an earthly kingdom to be established, others were looking for the power and title that they assumed Jesus would bring them. Confusion all around.
It wasn't until after Jesus' resurrection that the disciples at large finally got what Jesus had been saying all along. Finally something "clicked" inside of them and they figured it out. What was the difference? Why all of the sudden did the disciples finally catch on? Had Jesus started using different words? Did Jesus come up with some new creative strategy to communicate with them? None of the above. The only difference was proof. Jesus was no longer dead. He was alive. The grave was empty. They saw, ate with and talked to Jesus - post resurrection.
It's hard to argue with that kind of proof. I think sometimes we forget about that same proof that is available to us as believers. I've interacted with Jesus on a daily basis for years. I've experienced Him in a very real way on countless occasions. He changed my life in a very real way. My experience with Christ has been more than theory, it's been more than just something I've heard about or read about, I've experienced it for myself. The same could probably be said for you as well. You've been a believer for 5 or 10 or even 20 years or longer and have had dozens or even hundreds of powerful experiences with Christ and yet you still find yourself confused and misunderstanding what God has planned for you. Don't get me wrong, seldom does anyone, including the seasoned saints among us, hit the nail on the head every time with God. The Bible makes clear in Isaiah 55:8-9 that His ways are not our ways and His thoughts are not our thoughts.
Perhaps we need to entertain the possibility that our lack of understanding and confusion about God's mission, plan and goals for our lives is less about us understanding and more about us wanting to understand. I mean, with all of the interactions that you've had with Christ over the years, with all of the proof that you have experienced first hand, can you still be using the excuse that you're just not sure what He wants? Maybe we know exactly what He wants and we're just not sure that we want the same thing? Be encouraged and keep moving forward.
You've heard the phrase, "Time heals all wounds" right? It's the idea that that feelings of sadness, disappointment, etc., gradually go away as time passes. We often use this phrase while attempting to console someone who has just lost a loved one or in an effort to bring encouragement to a friend who was recently rejected, fired, stabbed in the back, etc.
I think we're comforted by this phrase on a few levels. First, we're comforted as the giver of this type of encouragement because it's easy to say. This phrase has become commonplace and flows from our tongues without much thought as to its helpfulness or even accuracy. It's like when we don't know what to say to be truly helpful we simply default to "Time heals all wounds". For many we've become uncomfortable with silence so we feel the need to fill the dead space and naturally we resort to our most comfortable saying.
I think we're also comforted by these words as we receive them. Let's be honest, it's easier to wait than it is to work. Staying in my seat and suffering through my pain is far easier than persistently pushing myself towards healing and wholeness. When we hear the phrase, "Time heals all wounds" we're comforted because our only role becomes passive. We buy into the idea that as we passively wait healing will naturally manifest itself.
Here's the problem with this phrase, it's simply not accurate. Time doesn't heal all wounds. Time only serves to aid us in forgetfulness and numbness. Imagine with me that I'm in my backyard attempting to trim my "badly needing to be trimmed" trees (not imaginary). Let's imagine that as I reach for one of the furthest limbs that my chainsaw slips from my grasp and gashes into my leg leaving a massive cut. We would all readily agree that my wound is in desperate need of a trip to the hospital, some stitching, antibiotics and a long time of recuperation. What if instead I made the decision to just wait it out, I could head into the house, flip on the tv, crack open a cold ginger ale and just wait it out. This of course would be ridiculous but as crazy as it sounds, this is often how we choose to handle our own need for healing, we simply attempt to wait it out.
If you study Scripture you'll discover that many who needed and received healing were those who didn't just passively wait but rather were those who pushed and persistently sought healing. In fact, many of those found in Scripture had waited for years on end without receiving healing.
Mark 5 paints a pretty clear picture of this very idea. Mark 5:25-29 in the NIV says, "And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years. She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse. When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, because she thought, “If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.” Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering."
It's safe to say that this woman had done her fair share of waiting for healing and yet she never got better, in fact she got worse. It wasn't until she pressed in with intentionality, boldness and faith that she was healed.
Luke 18 maps out the account of a blind beggar who, upon hearing that Jesus was nearby, began crying out for healing. We can assume that this bling beggar wasn't recently blind or recently poor. He had likely been blind for sometime and as a result lived his life in poverty. Upon hearing that Jesus was close the Scripture says in Luke 18:38-39, "He called out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Those who led the way rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”
Both of these are powerful examples of people who actively sought healing. Healing doesn't come from waiting. Healing doesn't come with the passing of time. Healing comes as a result of our persistent effort to allow God into our hurtful situations, into our scars and into our heartache.
Perhaps today you could start crying out for yourself, "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Rest assured that He will hear your cries and He will bring healing, in His time and in His way. Be encouraged and keep moving forward.
I'm grateful for the opportunities that I have each week to share from God's Word with those who have entrusted me with such an honor. It's humbling to think that people invite you into their hearts and minds in such a way. If I'm honest, at times I'm fearful, not in a stage fright kind of way, I've been doing this long enough to have gotten past that. When I say fearful, I mean more in the sense of, "God don't let me say anything that would cause someone to think incorrectly about your Word or Your plan for their life." In fact I often pray the prayer, "God don't let me screw this up." Perhaps that seems flippant to some but I assure you that it's heart-felt. God is moving in each of our lives even when we don't recognize it or even care to recognize it and I want to be sure that I don't get in the way of what God is doing in someone's life with an ill spoken word or worst yet, an incorrect interpretation of God's Word.
As a result of my desire to get out of God's way I often find myself cutting out, re-vamping or editing for time parts of a teaching that just don't fit into the overall theme or more often than not, can't be fully unpacked. To bring something up or as some say, "open that can of worms" would be foolish if time prohibits a comprehensive look and anything less would only serve to cause confusion. Thus, there is often much that goes unsaid.
Just this past week I shared a teaching based on the idea that God calls each of us to make an impact on those around us. You can listen to the full message here. Over the last few days I've felt prompted to revisit some of the areas of this talk and to further unpack a few of the ideas that were presented. The one that jumps out to me the most centers around the revelation of God. I said,
"God’s Word maps out for me His general revelation. My time in prayer allows me to discover His specific revelation for my life. The saints of the church, those who have gone before me allow me to walk in their wisdom."
This process of revelation is so often overlooked as we strive to become the people God has called us to become. Too often we spend all of our energy asking God to reveal to us His specific revelation for our lives. We want specifics from God on:
We long for God's specific revelation in these areas. We want details and a road map for what's to come and yet we don't give adequate time or even worse, we completely ignore God's general revelation as mapped out in His Word. When we don't hear from God in the way we imagined it would happen we throw our hands in the air in frustration and ask ourselves, "Why does God not care enough to reveal Himself to me?"
God's Word is packed full of lessons, direction, guidance and insight for us to pull from and apply to our lives. When we skip over God's general revelation as we're waiting for His specific revelation we miss out on so much of what He wants to reveal to us.
It's the Matthew 6:33 principle, "Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need." Of course this verse is written in the context of Jesus' teaching on money and possessions but the same principle applies.
It's Micah 6:8, "No, O people, the Lord has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God." Again, not written in the context of general revelation versus specific revelation but the principle of first following God before getting caught up in the details of the sacrifice makes it applicable to this idea.
We get far too caught up in the details of following Jesus before we've first developed our ability to simply follow Him according to His Word.
2 Timothy 3:16 says, "All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right."
Let's make the commitment today and in the days to come to first and foremost look for God's general revelation before we get frustrated or feel slighted at His (in our faulty opinion) lack of specific revelation. Be encouraged and keep moving forward.