I don’t remember the beginning of being ill. It seemed to arrive all at once after finally crawling out of a dark depressed pit. I was picking my feet up and walking independently but then I was down again, not being able to see properly everything was a thick misty soup. It was different being ill the second time as I had just started attending church. God had brought me to this church and yet here I was ill again.
One of my first encounters with God’s healing hands was after a session with anointing. It was like the oil had come alive on my forehead, I left it on as long as possible like a plaster covering a sore. The more I attended, the better I felt, the more I followed God’s call the better I could see. During my last appointment in October the doctor was amazed at my improvement. What had I changed he asked? I had done nothing, God had changed me within.
I met a lady last night at a multi faith event and she said to me that if God is calling you to ministry he will make it happen. A prophetic message from this lady perhaps? I am now literally fit for mission! Jesus has wiped the scales from my eyes and I can see, not only physically but I can see his grace, his love, and his call.
I believed that Jesus could heal me, I believe that he can heal my cat (she’s better too!) I am not worthy for his grace, I am a sinner like us all but a belief in him to heal, to love, to guide, and to forgive is paramount. Belief and faith in our saviour can heal us, not just from physical ailments but from the pain we hold inside that no one can see. Like the bleeding women, we reach out and grasp the bottom of his cloak to experience his holy grace. He does not scold us by being timid, he commends our belief no matter how tentative, and in that moment we are humbled and healed.
Lord, I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the word and I shall be healed.
All this political juggling has really highlighted the inability of professionals in power to stand up and do the right thing. The leaders of the Brexit campaign abandoned ship as soon as the votes were finalised, the prime minister whistled a tune and handed the country over like a half drunk cup of coffee to a women who has got the job by default. These professional people who are entrusted with decisions that effect every person in the UK aren’t really doing a great job.
Looking at the parable of the Good Samaritan we see how the unexpected person showed mercy and compassion to an unknown man. However there is more to this story, the person asking Jesus the initial question about inheriting eternal life, is described as an “expert in the law”. He is a professional, an expert, trying to test Jesus to see if Jesus is as knowledgable as he. Yet this expert did not know who his neighbour was! Was he a out of touch professional? Did he even get involved with the people outside of the court room?
Jesus uses this parable to show how people in power, people who are professionals with responsibilities actualy don’t behave in a fitting manner. As the poor man is lying on the floor, a priest walks by! Surely a priest, a professional in his faith would have mercy on this man. A Levite walks by too, a holy man, surely he must understand that he must love his neighbour. Sadly he doesn’t.
Jesus is holding these professionals into account, and we should pray that he does the same to our professionals, our politicians, our government to help them to think of everyone in this country not just about their parliamentary bubble.
And of course we need Jesus to hold us into account, can we live our lives like the Good Samaritan, can we help the homeless on the streets, elderly people who are lonely, a family who is poor, or do we walk around them because we go to church every Sunday and that is it. Being a Christian is a 24/7 role, it’s a chance every day to show everyone around us that God loves each and every one of us, and through us helping each other, by loving our neighbours, we can channel the love that Jesus gives to us to all his people.
I often think about the story of the widow putting in her only two coins to the temple treasury in Luke 21:1-4. There’s been many times where I’ve looked into my purse and that’s all the money I might have until the following week. When I was relatively new to formal church worship God gently showed me that I could have faith in him providing for us. I remember looking into my purse and seeing two pounds, that’s all I had until Monday, I prayed and popped the money into the collection envelope, sealed it up and gave it in during the offertory.
On the way back I realised we needed bread for lunch……maybe I had made a mistake donating the money, I have hungry children and no sandwiches. When we got home I checked my bag for any spare change, nothing could be found. Suddenly I got a shout from my husband from upstairs, he’d found six pounds on top of the wardrobe…..we had no idea why it was up there but it solved our problem.
Had God provided? Or were we just lucky? I believe God had provided, maybe not by creating coins, but breathing words and instructions to my husband to go and look there. My husband says he put things up there out of his pockets occasionally but had not done for a while, perhaps God knew the money was there and provided a nudge.
It was a big moment for me, a moment where prayer and answer came together and saved the day. God is still doing that in my life today, at moments of dispair he listens and provides, not by a magic wand but by the strength he gives me to complete a task, the courage to ask difficult questions, the instructions to find my way around problems, a person he brings to help me, his endless love showing me that if I do get things wrong or do silly things that his love will not fail me. He is always waiting for me with his arms outstretched as I run back towards him and land on my knees.
This lesson of trust in God moves with me daily, my anguish and worry is poured out in prayer, my insecurities and insufficiency are washed away in his life giving water. We can all try to give everything we have to God and not by handing over lots of money but by giving ourselves, our everything to him in prayer, and by doing that our relationship, our trust, and our love over spills towards him and he will provide, he will provide for us all.
Today was the feast day of St Thomas, quite fitting really as I was scheduled to be at St Thomas’ church this morning. I hadn’t realised this until I eyed up the red vestments and the lovely icon of St Thomas on the pew sheet. In fact I hadn’t even thought about it when I’d bought a coffee at the petrol station, slurping it between traffic light changes and letting my mind wander. I feel that when my mind is open like that, God had some time to whisper scripture at me that blows around my soul for a while. My mind flashed back to the confirmation practice that I went to last night, I felt so blessed that I’ve been able to see and share in the candidates joy. My mind blew to the phrase “My Lord, and my God”as I thought about the wonderful journey he has blessed me with, I slurped my coffee, parked up and walked into church.
I always feel a little sorry for St Thomas, “doubting Thomas” he is called. St Thomas was not with the rest of the disciples when he heard of Jesus’ resurrection, he was on the outside so to say and wanted physical proof of the resurrected Christ. Jesus in his infinite grace appears to St Thomas and in his gentle way invites him to touch and feel his wounds. Jesus did not scold him, or chastise him for his unbelief he calmly and quietly guided Thomas to the truth. St Thomas, overwhelmed says, “My Lord, and my God”. The realisation of the miracle in front of him, the grace Jesus showed him, is encapsulated in that phrase, and that phrase stays with me every time I feel God’s love, Jesus’s grace, and the warmth of the Holy Spirit.
Whenever I question or doubt my journey, or whenever I cannot see because of the mist I think of St Thomas. For Thomas is like all of us and Jesus waits for us with the same patience and the same grace to press our hands into his wounds, to remind us that he died for us and he rose for us and that he will come again, and through his love and sacrifice we will one day sit and eat with him in his kingdom.