Tree Houses

I have always coveted tree houses. I wasn’t really the climbing type, but if I had a rope ladder or some steps, I would’ve been in business. I even wanted a “Boyz Only” clubhouse building. It could’ve even said those words. I didn’t care. As long as I had my own hiding place.

It’s probably good I didn’t have one, because I would’ve bleached and Cloroxed those boards and walls to death trying to get rid of cobwebs. I most likely would have died an early death from high doses of ant repellent. But, nonetheless, I still envied all the children who had those.

I was reading a book this week about the names of God and this one struck me: My High Tower. There is something ingrained in the heart of man to be safe…protected. I, for one, am deathly afraid of heights, but there’s something comforting about being above your enemies. The advantage lies with the one in the higher place.

Here’s the thought: It’s up to me how high I go.

I could have a tree house but never get up in it. I also have a Bible but I choose how often I get in it. And I have a heavenly Father, but I choose how often I crawl into His arms.

If you’re feeling unusually low, check your position with these verses: 2 Samuel 22:3. Psalm 18:2, and Psalm 144:2.

And then go Higher.

Untouchable

I’m a big fan of etiquette. As a nanny, I feel it is my proper duty to not only bestow my learned gifts of courtesy upon my little people, but also to teach them consideration. It does not so much matter to me what etiquette they demonstrate, as long as they attempt to show some.

The story of Jairus’ daughter and the story of the woman with the issue of blood are usually told as two individual incidents, but when I read them together, in context, I am appalled and disturbed. Jairus’ daughter is dying, and he begs Jesus to come to his house and heal her. Jesus must have understood his position, because He knew first hand the care His Father had for Him, and He also knew the purpose to which He was upon the earth. Surely His heart was touched as He resonated with this man who had only one begotten daughter.

Also, surely He was touched by the humility of this ruler. He came and bowed at Jesus’ feet. Literally fell on his face. This was not something you saw much in the line of rulers. They mostly preferred others to do the bowing.

I think Jesus was touched, because He began to go. Without a word, but with purpose.

“But as He went, the people thronged Him.” 

The next line says, “But Jesus let nothing deter Him from His mission.”

Right? Nope. He stopped.

For a woman who had been dealing with an issue of blood her whole life. Yes, the suffering. I don’t doubt the suffering. But, for crying out loud, Jerry’s daughter is dying. This lady can live with this issue for another half hour.

This is how far my human perspective goes.

Not to mention, she cut line. In the words of my cousin-niece Kinsey, “That ith tho rude!!” Not fair. Not nice. And, she didn’t even ask permission. She just took a proverbial cookie from the cookie jar, without even asking. I will give grace to those who ask, but to those who take cookies without asking, they receive none. You play by the rules if you want to win.

The first shall be last, and the last shall be first. Remember that, Jesus?

This disturbing story turns fascinating. Jesus stopped. Let me assure you, He wasn’t distracted. He could have ignored her and went on, pretending as if He never felt her touch Him. He also could have chosen not to heal her. I have often chalked it up to teaching Jerry patience. (After all, maybe he had prayed for it.)

Who was this lady? Not a lady in fine linen. Not even a poor lady. It doesn’t mention her status, but I doubt she was of ruler status like Jerry. Not a young or old lady. Just one in-firmed for 12 years. She could have been 24 or 60.

She was the woman “which had spent all her living upon physicians, neither could be healed of any…”

The phrase stings my eyes with tears. That was how Jesus saw her. He looked beyond her ailment and her age and her status and her cutting line. He saw straight to her heart. And He saw that she had been everywhere. Except to Him. He could have told her that she should have come to Him first. But He didn’t. And you know what? He doesn’t tell me that, either. When I try everything but prayer first. When I go to doctors before I ask Him for healing. When I try my own idea instead of consulting Him. When I begin my day without talking to Him. He never says, “Too bad.” “Tough luck.” “I told you so.” He always welcomes me back. The Savior we have is indescribable. His grace and patience is overwhelming. He didn’t make her acknowledge His sovereignty. He didn’t make her ask for forgiveness. He granted healing. Immediately. Before she said a word.

Who am I? The woman who spent all her living… on things that didn’t satisfy. To this day, I am still the woman who often finds herself in left field, groping money and food, jewelry and name brand clothing, status symbols and even religious traditions, hoping to find my worth. This woman had spend everything she had trying to find answers, but nothing could heal her of her soul’s deepest need.

Jesus.

Whether this woman believed that Jesus was the Messiah before then is unknown. But I guarantee you that her rendezvous with the Savior that day left her with no doubt afterwards.

You see, even after salvation we are easily distracted, swayed, and tempted by what the world says is important. But no matter how far we’ve gone, all we have to do is touch the hem of His garment, and we can be healed anew.

No matter how untouchable you think you are, reach out to Jesus. He’ll take notice of you and heal you.

What’s your I.D.?

2 Timothy 2:11

It is a faithful saying: For if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him…
 

This weekend, I have asked myself this question.

Am I more grateful for the cross, or for the empty tomb?

There are a bazillion reasons why I treasure the cross, because without it, I would not be able to stand before the throne sinless in the eyes of God. Without it, I would never be worthy to communicate with the Father or have a relationship with Him or His Son. The cross made redemption possible. The cross demonstrates the utmost example of forgiveness. It trumps the raising of Lazarus. It far exceeds the healing of the ten lepers. It beats the story of the good Samaritan. Because sin created death and disease, and only Someone kind and gracious enough to overlook deliberate sin against Himself would even think to make a way to redeem His violators. And not just any kind of redemption… but the sacrifice of His only Son. I am overwhelmed to think of the great love He must have for me.

And yet, the tomb. The empty grave. It means that He was more powerful than death, and simultaneously more powerful than any sin or temptation I face. He was able to overcome the consequences of sin. The cross saved humanity from sin, past and present, but if He didn’t live and I had to pray to a dead Savior, I don’t think I would have any motivation to honor Him with my life. But, because He lives, I, too, can live. I can have a wild love affair with the God of the universe! I can have instant access to His throne.

And, as if redemption of past and present sins wasn’t enough, the very One Who died for me is sitting right now at the right throne of God, interceding on my behalf.

I don’t deserve the half of it.

It’s all because of Jesus I’m alive.

Yet… I decide how alive I will be. I can trap myself in the claws of religion, trying to be perfect and never mess up. Trying to live above the law and be spotless and somehow gain favor. Creating rules for myself that I can never live up to. 

But Jesus simply says, “Come.” 

I can discourage myself in the ways I don’t measure up and the failures I commit daily. 

But He says, “Come.” 

I can beat myself up over my past and try to work harder to make up for it.

“Come.” 

The invitation is unwavering, steady, steadfast. 

I am undeserving, but to refuse Jesus after all He has done for me would be the utmost rejection. And so I allow myself to be deserving. I stop telling myself I’m unworthy because Jesus made me accepted into the beloved.

I choose to put aside all my shortcomings and weaknesses and focus on His strength. I choose to live in His light instead of wallowing in my darkness. What does that look like? It means resting. Not rushing and doing and trying and judging and losing. But resting. In Who He is. In Who He says I am. 

The empty tomb means being alive

The resurrection was a stand-alone event. Never before, and never again. But it doesn’t end there. The power continues because He is still alive. Right now. It is a state of being, not something in the past.  

And so it is with me. I do not focus on what I do, but on who I am. Not of works, lest any man should boast. I will boast in Jesus crucified, and risen again. I am alive. I don’t need to try to act alive and prove to everyone that I am. 

Because. I. Just. Am.

Alive in Christ.

It’s impossible to pick a favorite. The cross and the tomb both hold equal significance for me. The cross excommunicated my former identity, and the grave instituted my new identity.

Living, He loved me.

Dying, He saved me.

Buried, He carried my sins far away.

Rising, He justified, freely forever. 

It’s high time we declare our identity.

 

Romans 6:8 

Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him.