Ponderings

Turn and Be Healed, In Jesus (Part One)

I’d like to begin this whole thing with a bit of full disclosure… This post has been a rough one. It’s also way long (likely too long according to some standard of which I clearly don’t follow), so it’s split into three. But, I’ve honestly no idea the rules for sharing multiple parts… one per day…or maybe every couple days to build excitement?? (I really could use some excitement, ya know?!) Truth is, though, I’d like to publish them all the same day, just to get them out of my hair so, who knows…

Moving on… I started writing this around the end of last year, but real life and heartache also came around, and what originally began with gusto, eventually puttered to a turtle crawl. The idea kept returning, though… slowly stretching itself, a lovely kind of wild, all over my mind and heart and keyboard… until it really just got all wildly tangled up, creating knots of doubt and confusion that only stretched wider still over my voice… eventually causing me to wrestle God over the sharing of anything at all, then basically over life in general, until I simply desired nothing more than to give this whole idea up! Because, honestly, for me blogging can often feel like high diving into a pool blindfolded. (Who really wants to do that?!) Taking what I’m thinking and making it coherent enough to read, then actually sharing it, takes every bit of my ability and courage. (Because, who do I think I am, anyway?!) And this particular content, especially, just seemed so beyond any realm (I mean, I couldn’t even spell realm and had to google it!) of my understanding, that trying to share even a bit of it, took me well beyond any understanding I thought I possessed to begin with.

But, despite all these doubts, my mind just refused to move on, so I simply clung to Who I knew, determined to follow His lead, come what may. Now, nearly a year later, I’ve come to believe these words in the deepest parts of me. And, although I’m still not at all wild about the sharing of them, I sincerely believe that if we can grasp hold of the whole of them, we may never be the same.

So, here I am, choosing to walk in obedience to the One who holds my life (amidst all my doubt) and there you are, graciously giving me an ear (because you’re, no doubt, gracious). I only pray God will accomplish whatever purpose He’s wanting to — be it in myself, or in you, Sweet Reader.

And now that we’re both here, let’s turn to be healed…

What if I were to tell you God is not nearly as concerned about your behavior as He is about your relationship to Him? What if I were to say, that above all else, He simply desires your heart?

Some of you may reply with something like, “Duhhhh.” And, that’s cool. But, there may be others of you who find this idea completely foreign to your understanding of religion or Christianity and you’d like to hear more.

Whichever your reply, I’d love if you’d stay the course and consider my words. You see, the only thing I knew about Christians before I knew God, was that they were supposed to be very well behaved. Then, after I actually became a Christian, I lived years knowing I wasn’t at all behaved, but at least I was saved. For this reason, I gratefully believed in the concept of God’s Grace, as revealed in Jesus Christ. I also believed that, at the moment I was saved, God got the whole of my heart and that true Christianity was not about religion at all, but about a relationship with Jesus… though I could never really say why, except, “Because God loves you.”

However, in recent years, I’ve come to believe that I somehow missed the complete picture of God’s Grace; that I never really gave Him all of my heart; and, that each of these actions negatively affected how I related to Him, to others, and to myself. And now, consequently, I’ve also come to believe that the, “Why?” God would desire a relationship with us over any good behavior, actually matters way more than I ever understood before… because, put simply, our hearts affect our behavior and we will never be living lives that are fully healed and forgiven by God, apart from a relationship with God.

Check out this verse to see what I mean…

“(For this people’s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes.) Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal (forgive) them.” (Isaiah 6:10; Matthew 13:15; Mark 4:12; Luke 8:10; John 12:40; Acts 28:27)

Now, a little context before we begin… I’ve kinda mashed up a few of the versions of this verse, so included them all for comparison, but The Old Testament book of Isaiah is where you’ll find it first mentioned in Scripture. Jesus then repeats portions of it in the New Testament, with Matthew recording it in its entirety in his gospel. Both Mark and John only record portions of it in their gospels and Luke makes an even smaller reference to it in his, but then records it entirely in the book of Acts.

(Side Bar: That’s a lot of mentions, don’t you think? Six, actually. It kinda seems like overkill, right? But repetition in Scripture is never by accident. And, that was part of the reason this verse shouted so loud at me over a year ago. I found myself bumping into it often and at first I didn’t understand why, but then I realized it was simply repeated often. I eventually began to sense my notice of it was intentional… as if God was saying, “There’s something more you need to see here.” And since I couldn’t deny some fascination with the verse, digging deeper seemed the obvious choice… so here we are.)

Back to context… in the O.T. mention, God gave these words to the prophet, Isaiah, as part of a commission to warn his fellow Jews that God was planning to bring judgement upon them for their life-long rebellion and rejection of Him. Basically, God said His People had rejected Him so long, their hearts had become calloused, leaving them unable to see, hear, or understand that they could turn toward Him and be healed by Him, and because of this, He would leave them to suffer in their hardness of heart.

Yet, when we see the verse again in the gospels, Jesus is using it to explain why He teaches with parables, concluding in Matthew’s account that the disciples eyes and ears were, “blessed” because they could now see and hear what many people before them longed to see and hear. And then, if you noticed in Mark’s gospel, Jesus gives us a bit more insight into the verse by using the word, “forgive” in place of “heal”… leading us to conclude that the two are synonymous in God’s eyes. Remember, Jesus often taught this idea but, most notably, when He declared a paralyzed man’s sins, “forgiven” before choosing to heal him physically, because our truest and deepest need, regardless of any physical, mental, or emotional realities we may face, is actually the need for forgiveness. Finally, when we see it mentioned in Acts, Luke is recording a speech Paul gave his fellow apostles, where he quotes the entire verse from Isaiah in defense of bringing the good news of God’s salvation through Jesus to the Gentiles, since many of their fellow Jews would not listen.

Now, going back to when Jesus uses this verse in the gospels… specifically in Matthew, when He said the eyes and ears of His followers were “blessed” because they can understand His parables. Well, if we contrast this with God’s original remarks in Isaiah, we see a radical difference. We see Jesus saying that unlike those who came before, the disciples can now see and hear what He’s teaching them about God’s Kingdom and are, therefore, now blessed because, as the verse states, understanding creates an opportunity to turn (in relationship) toward God, and receive the healing and forgiveness God has been offering all along. But, I believe there may also be an unspoken blessing found here, too. In using this verse, Jesus seems to foreshadow His full plan of redemption, by essentially telling His followers the time of God’s judgment may be coming to a close since they, unlike those referenced in the O.T., now have the ability to see, hear, and understand Him…

And, since we now know for certain that Jesus’ actual purpose in coming was to redeem and reconcile us to Himself, while ushering in a new Covenant of Grace, we should also know for certain that this same blessing can be ours, as well.

Now, I understand that what you’ve just read is essentially what most of us believe happens at the time of salvation. We admit we’re sinners, separated from a Holy God, and we repent (turn) and trust that Jesus’ work on the cross (grace) was enough to save us and secure forgiveness (healing), so we can now get to Heaven.

But… and, here’s where it gets a bit tricky for me (and, where I also wanna walk away from this whole thing and turn on some Beastie Boys… ) I’ve noticed that some of us may leave healing and forgiveness right there in the beginning, all but eliminating any opportunity or need for a relationship with God moving forward. The reality is, though, that Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection was way more than just our ticket to Heaven. His atonement was actually the only way God could overlook our rejection of Him and reconcile us to the relationship He intended we should always have with Him from the beginning. A relationship that is current and active. Just look at the words used… “be healed”, “heal”, and “forgive”… they’re present tense. We aren’t healed (forgiven) of only our past at the time of salvation… it’s actually who we become for the duration, so if we choose to leave healing and forgiveness at the beginning of our journey, the life we live thereafter will tell a lesser story…

You see, in my own life, even while reading and hearing how God removes our transgressions (forgiveness) and washes us white as snow (healing), I somehow didn’t grasp that this was continual. More often than not, I lived imprisoned by guilt, shame, and fear (the opposite!) over most bad behavior and brokenness, because even though I’d turn to God often, seeking His forgiveness, I really only ever felt truly forgiven of what I did before I knew Him and rarely, if ever, for my bad behavior after. And, while I would’ve quickly told you that by the Grace of God, through Jesus Christ, you are forgiven and loved and then, even encouraged you to live in the freedom of it all… being able to live my own life that way, was nearly impossible. So, I just lived grateful for the promise that I’d eventually wind up in heaven, while suffering days of guilt, shame, and fear on earth that could sometimes feel like hell…

Now, I’ll break here and say… if this isn’t at all your experience and your understanding of God’s Grace brings you a satisfying life lived healed and forgiven (and I pray it does!) then… How about we hook up for coffee, soon?? I’m always down for new mentors!

But, if you’ve struggled, like me, to accept His healing and forgiveness meant for today, or if you have even the slightest curiosity of where I’m headed with all this, then how about we move on with a few questions…

Do you try and keep very busy in life just so you can quiet thoughts? Do you live in guilt or shame over any of your strongholds or brokenness? Do you have a hard time forgiving people that hurt you? Do you struggle with anger, either passive or aggressive? Do you work hard to control everything and everyone you can? Do you often feel judgement towards others or are you quick to point out their brokenness? Do you fear anyone’s opinion of you? Do you need to please people or keep them happy with you? Do you have a difficult time being honest with people? Do you pick and choose which “sins” are acceptable? Do you avoid extended times with your Bible or in quiet reflection and prayer? Do you view bad things in your life as punishment by God? Do you ever think God is mad at or disappointed in you? Do you lie in bed at night and feel you’re on His good side because you had a good day or His bad side because you didn’t?

I lived this way for most of my walk with God and if any of these also resonate with you, I’d wonder if you didn’t have the complete picture of God’s Grace, either…

If not, the good news is, that can totally change. And, the first way it began to change for me was when I first began to truly understand that everything begins and ends with Jesus. (Doesn’t everything always, anyway?)

You see, there’s a finality found in Jesus’ actual life, death, and resurrection. At The Cross of Calvary, HE completed it all. For US. FOREVER. Jesus was the only One to live the perfect life, in perfect obedience to and in perfect dependence upon His Father, so that we could actually turn and live perfectly healed and forgiven lives through HIM… united in perfect relationship with both Him and The Father for both now, and for all eternity. And, what’s even better, He did it all for the His Own Glory.

So, there’s a reason He declares on that cross, “It is finished.” Because… It. Is. Finished! Jesus finished His Work on earth by defeating sin’s curse and now, because of Him, our brokenness, from either twenty years ago or twenty minutes ago, no longer has the power to separate us from Our Father. Every ounce of God’s wrath over our rebellion (sin) and rejection of Him, was poured out upon Jesus, so those who would become His Own no longer need to live in any guilt, shame, or fear from not meeting His Perfect Law, but can now live their lives under His Covenant of Grace, while resting in His Completed Work.

(And, oh how I pray that if there’s any shred of doubt in you about this truth, you would stop reading right now, and run to God in prayer, then wait in His Presence until He pours His Grace upon you!)

Now, when I really began to grasp this, I had to ask myself… If salvation was never purchased through my behavior to begin with — but, through Jesus’ alone — and it was even accomplished while I was still busy rejecting Him, then why would I ever think I needed to live in any guilt, shame, or fear for my bad behavior after salvation?

Because Christians are perfect? Because I’m no longer a sinner? Because, now that I know Jesus and know better, I should now always do better??

No, not really. Even Paul spoke to his own behavior war that waged in his life.

So, let’s take another look at our verse for a clue…

For this people’s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes…”

See, calloused hearts are hard. They are filled with pride and self-sufficiency. And, even after salvation, they can still shout loud at us. They can say we should be perfect and never make mistakes or that when we do, we should cover up or hide in shame, like Adam and Eve. Or, they can blind us to our brokenness while shining spotlights on others in theirs. And, sometimes, those calloused hearts can even tell us there is something more we need to offer God… some work or service or good behavior we must do, or some bad behavior we must never do in order to earn, keep, or repay His Love.

And, ughhh… this was so what I believed for so long. And, why I stayed so imprisoned. But, now I’m not so sure our faith requires anything remotely like this…

{Insert any audible gasp here}, then read this.

And now, I think it’d be wise to stop right here and let this all sink in. Hope you’ll come back for Part Two, when we look at life in The Pilgrimage.

8 thoughts on “Turn and Be Healed, In Jesus (Part One)”

  1. Wow! Love this… can’t wait for part two!
    I’ve missed your posts, God has surly blessed you with the gift of writing and expressing His truth!
    Thank you for this…
    Love you! Xoxo ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This was great, Kacy. Can’t wait to read part 2!! I find that as we grow in our understanding of Jesus and his perfection that we become more and more convicted of our sins. Just as God hates sin, we too begin to hate it more and more. It gets so confusing whether what we are feeling is guilt or conviction! Doesn’t conviction lead us to guilt?? I think he wired us to feel the wrong so that we recognize that we can only control our thoughts and actions through total dependence on the Father. That is the strength of Jesus – his total dependence!

    Liked by 1 person

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