Wednesday, June 1, 2016

In Search of Restoration

This past Sunday I preached from the first portions of Mark 2. The first pericope consists of some unexpected happenings while Jesus is teaching at a home in Capernaum. First, the roof starts to open as bits of mud, sticks, and the like fall on those below. Then a man is lowered on a mat through the new hole. And finally, the most unexpected moment of all – Jesus doesn’t heal him. No, instead he forgives his sins. Now this is a profound moment and one that is far more important than actually healing the man’s paralysis, but it is not what the man, his friends, or anyone else expected.

However long later, Jesus is walking along the shore of the Sea of Galilee where He finds Levi collecting customs taxes from those who have come to sell their goods. The four men Jesus has called to “Follow Me” thus far (Andrew, Simon, James, John) would have likely had many dealings with Levi and most may have been unfavorable as they would have tried to sell their fish. And now Jesus does the unexpected and invites (really it is more of a command) to “Follow Me.” I am sure this is a tense moment for the, now, five guys following along. And to make matters worse, Matthew invites several friends who also join for a meal together – all of which is a slap in the face to religious-minded leaders of the day. (For a more complete write-up, check the church blog, Bread Crumbs, here.)

Jesus restored those who had physical challenges, emotional challenges, and most of all those who were spiritually challenged. Indeed, He was a physician to those who realized their need (Mark 2.17).

But sometimes we choose to ignore our needs. Sometimes we determine to push through thinking it will get better, only to realize months, or even years later, that we still need something, and we still haven’t found it. That something, I believe, is restoration.

Like those in the first portion of Mark 2, and throughout the Bible, we have physical needs and emotional needs. But most of all we have spiritual needs. But we tend to brush aside our spiritual needs because of the demands of the day. Then, in some obscure moment, perhaps we encounter Jesus in some way. At that moment He offers us an unexpected healing – like He did with the paralytic – and we look at Him and say, “That’s not what I really expected. And I am not sure it is needed.” But He looks back and says, “That’s exactly what is needed. You just can’t see it yet.”

Jesus did eventually (moments later) heal the paralytic physically, but Jesus offered something greater, something deeper than anyone expected – forgiveness. Jesus offered a healing that was beyond recognition, but that was more crucial than the man, his friends, or those around could comprehend in that moment.

Amazingly, Jesus offers the same kind of healing to you and I. He offers more than what we ask, yet we refuse to take what He has offered. However, we are to ask (Matthew 7.7), and we are to do so with faith (James 1.5-8, particularly related to wisdom). However, in our anticipation, and even expectation, of His response we must be ready for Him to offer something different. Something that He knows we need, even if we can’t see the need for ourselves.

As for me? I have the spiritual healing necessary to stand before Him one day, but I still need restoration. I still need for Him to find me, to call me, to heal me, especially in those times when I don’t think I have time for Him. I need Him to rescue me from my own ambitions and my own schedule no matter how much I feel they might be serving my wife, my family, my church, or most importantly Him. It is not my thoughts and feelings that matter. It is His. He is the one that must say, “Well done good and faithful servant.” I cannot say those words to myself with any sense of meaning.

But to serve, and to have the strength to do so, I need restoration. I need Him to help me see more clearly the path that I am running and how to run it better. I need Him to provide the direction just as He has already defined my purpose. Yes, I need restoration. I am in search of restoration. And I will find it not be seeking my perceived need (rest), but by seeking Him, that is, Jesus, instead.

My encouragement is found in Jesus. I encourage you to seek your restoration in Him as well. (See Matthew 11.28-30; James 4.7.)

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