As a pastor, I think one of the most grieving things to observe are lives that never seem to move forward, to move past, to move on.  For whatever reason, they stay in the same place emotionally, spiritually, that they have been in for a very long time.  It may be because of woundedness, disappointment, discouragement, personal failure, or pain that just never seems to end.  Months, even years may have gone by, but all is as it has been, and all looks to remain as it has been.  They tell themselves that one day it will be different.  One day they'll get past it, get over it.  But that day is not yet, and that day, very likely, will never be.  This is not how Jesus, the Giver of Life would have it.  So why do we?

    Writer and speaker Christine Caine says that we don't need to stop hurting before we move forward, that we can "get past what we can't get over", that if we'll "move hurting" we'll find that the healing comes as we're moving.  As I thought on her words, the Spirit brought to my mind the scripture from Mark 3, where Jesus heals the man with the withered hand.  The man was sitting at the entrance to the synagogue, where Jews would meet to worship the Father.  Scripture relates that "He said to the man with the withered hand 'Rise and come forward."  The man obeyed and as he came towards Jesus He spoke again to him, "Stretch out your hand."  As he did so, his hand was restored.  As I read this I see how Christ brings His healing, wholeness, and His life to us.  He calls us by His grace to come forward, to come towards Him.  As he comes near, Jesus tells him to stretch out his hand.  I have heard it said that to enter into the fullness of life that He has for us will require a great stretching, a great reaching on our part.  A stretching not only of our faith, but our whole being.  Few of us want to reach or stretch so far.  As the man began to move forward to Christ, his hand was still withered, but the healing began in that movement.  Though he "moved hurting", he moved forward, and as he reached towards Jesus, he was fully healed.  So it will be for you and I......if we'll but stretch, reach, and discover in it, that His grace has enabled us to do so, and His grace makes us whole. 
    How many of us are like the man with the withered hand, sitting in the doorway of the church, even in the pews, with our own type of withered hand?  He calls to us to "Rise, and come forward."  To stretch out our hearts and lives that we may take hold of His heart, and His life.  There are many more who may not be anywhere near a church, but their lives are just as withered, just as hopeless.  To these too He calls us to rise, come forward, come to Him.  No matter how powerful or crushing that thing which brought upon the withering may be, it is powerless against Him who raises the dead, and calls that dead thing within us to rise and come forward, and be whole.  Our choice is stay where we are, waiting for "someday", or respond to His call, today, to come forward, stretch, reach towards Him, and be whole.  Will we go on living in "someday" or today?

Blessings,
Pastor O  

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  April 2018  
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