That silence resulted in a forever-malformed toe. But to be honest, its brokenness has made no huge impact on my life, other than an occasional uncomfortable shoe-fitting.
What about the broken things in my life that aren’t quite so easy to ignore?
What about the broken relationships, broken promises, and broken hearts?
I’m encouraged by several stories of brokenness in the book of Acts. Throughout the book, we see the Church born and launched to impact the world. We hold our breath as thousands receive the Holy Spirit for the first time, and cheer when Saul realizes his new identity in Christ as Paul the apostle. We cringe as Stephen is stoned for his faith, while secretly wishing our faith was as strong as his, without the high cost. We cheer when Peter and John visit the beggar at the Beautiful Gate and take time to really see him - as more than an inconvenience.
Over the span of a few verses, a man who had been lame from birth has his brokenness healed. A few chapters later, Peter is traveling the country when he finds a man, Aeneas, who has been paralyzed and bedridden for eight years. I’m willing to bet that neither the lame beggar nor Aeneas believed they would ever feel the weight of their bodies supported by their own two feet.
But God had another plan for both of their lives. A plan that included full healing of brokenness that seemed impossible to fix.
Do you find yourself accepting your brokenness? Some brokenness is physical, other times it is emotional. All of us experience spiritual brokenness, and God sent His son Jesus to heal that brokenness. It’s possible that God has chosen to have you wait for full healing until heaven. But, friend, take heart! It’s never too late for God to choose to heal something in your life that you never thought would heal.
Broken things become whole in the hands of our God.
What are the broken things in your life that need the touch of the Savior? They may be small and seemingly insignificant, like my middle toe. Remember that nothing is too small, or too big, for God.
Neither of the men in Acts were actively pursuing healing, but God chose to heal them anyway. How much more does He want to heal those who come to Him and ask?
Don’t wait. Ask God to redeem the brokenness in your life. He is willing and able to restore you to wholeness in Himself.
Memory Verse: “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” Psalm 147:3 NIV
How could the ones who spent three years living with Jesus not realize He was standing right in front of them? In John 20, when Mary arrived at the tomb, she couldn’t recognize the true Jesus because she had her mind set on a lifeless version. Our expectations of what we think God will look like, what He will do, as well as when and how he will work and move can cloud our vision so that even when we are in His presence, we are “ever seeing but never perceiving…” (Mark 4:12) who He really is.
Mary wasn’t alone in missing the real Jesus because she was busy looking for an expected one.
Herod was looking for a Jesus that would impress him (Luke 23:8).
Pilate looked for a Jesus that would explain himself (John 18:35).
The crowd looked for a Jesus that would wield political power (Matt 27:18).
The Pharisees and Sadducees looked for a Jesus that would do what they told him (Matt 12:38).
Nicodemus looked for a Jesus that would fit into his religious tradition (John 3:4).
The disciples on the road to Emmaus looked for a Jesus they could understand (Luke 24:21)
And, like Mary, I’ve often looked for a Jesus that looked the same as He did last time I saw Him (John 20:15). If I’m honest, I can think of a few different ways I, too, have asked the Living God for a dead one.
The only person in these chapters that recognized Jesus for who He truly is, was the centurion who declared “Surely he was the Son of God” (Matt 27:54). Unlike everyone else, he had no expectation and wasn’t looking for Jesus at all. Rather than looking for Jesus as He imagined Him to be, this man looked directly at him, and saw Him as He was. Unlike everyone chasing a counterfeit Jesus, this man saw the real thing and wasn’t disappointed.
The nature of our God is the same yesterday, today and forever, but that doesn’t mean He’s predictable. We can depend on His unchanging faithfulness, but we’ll miss Him entirely if we expect Him to always show up the way we assume He will. If you’re struggling to see God’s hand in your life, ask Him to reveal to you any expectations that may subtly be sketching a counterfeit savior that conceals the real One. With the help of the Holy Spirit, we can surrender these expectations and simply gaze at Jesus as He is with no imposed filter. When we no longer look for God to fit conveniently into a predictable image like Waldo, we’ll find He’s more alive and infinitely closer than we ever thought possible. Let’s surrender our expectations, and be ready for God to reveal who He truly is.
Memory Verse: “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:13 NIV
It was at that moment, the Father sent an angel to strengthen Jesus (Luke 22:43). What a good Father! What a beautiful picture of the Father’s heart providing for His child. He knew Jesus needed help in that place of anguish, so He released a helper. As we catch a glimpse into this tender moment between Father and Son, can you sense that God wants to be there for us as much as He was for Jesus?
I think one amazing quality Jesus possessed was His ability to receive from His Father, and because Jesus knew how to receive, He also learned how to give to His followers. In John 14, Jesus shares about the coming gift of the Holy Spirit. Jesus saw the sorrow and confusion in the disciples' eyes as He forewarned of His death and departure. He knew there were future generations to consider and was aware of all the enemy would dish out to them, because Jesus also experienced it. He knew we would need a Helper!
God never asks us to do anything without Him. How comforting that He sees, He knows and He provides. How wonderful to know we have full access to a loving Father. We can ask daily for a fresh filling and He loves to give it. His Spirit empowers, comforts, teaches, and reminds us what Jesus said and did for us. Remembering truth is vital as we continue on life’s journey. We need His truth in our marriages, our parenting, our workplaces, our homes - our everything. And just as we don’t withhold good gifts from our kids, He doesn’t withhold from us either (Luke 11:13).
Where do you find yourself needing some help? Maybe you are having a hard time in your marriage feeling like you can’t get on the same page. Maybe you are having a hard time being patient with your two year old. Maybe you are living in a place of isolation because you’ve been hurt, but you are longing to establish some deep friendships. All of these things can make us feel defeated before we even start to address them. Let’s get into the right posture as we move forward...on our knees and hands open expecting the Holy Spirit to come alongside us. Expecting He will help us, teach us, guide us and equip us. And knowing He’s enough for everything we will ever face.
The Helper. The Comforter. He is more than enough for all of us.
Memory Verse: “But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” John 14:26 NIV
But Jesus had different thoughts. Mark 10:13-16 tells us Jesus rebuked the disciples and said to them, “’Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.' And he took the children in his arms, placed his hands on them and blessed them."
I just love that Jesus made time for the children. This shows us his great love. I think this is a call for us to bring our children to Jesus. We need to make sure that we are introducing our children to Jesus even at a young age. It’s not up to the church to teach them about Jesus. We need to be leading them in our homes day in and day out. This also shows us that the gospel is not meant to be complicated like we sometimes try to make it. It is simple enough for a child to understand and believe. In fact, Jesus said it takes childlike faith to come to Him.
I remember talking to my mom about my son accepting Jesus as his Savior later that day and wondering if he really knew what he was doing at 5? She reminded me that we are the ones that make it so difficult. The more we know, the more difficult we try to make it. When it is just that simple childlike faith that brings us to Him. Maybe you, like me, have gotten caught up in all the do’s and don'ts, all the rules and requirements. Maybe we need to go back to the basics and come to Christ again like a child. May we trust Him.
Memory Verse: “Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” Luke 18:17 NIV
The warning didn’t stop there. She told us that a teddy bear cactus could actually leap toward us if we moved too close to it. My mind was spinning trying to envision this man-eating cactus that might attempt to chase me up the path. Apparently, this type of cactus has stems that disconnect quite easily. The spines have barbs that burrow into the muscle fiber and make it painfully difficult to remove. Needless to say, we spent our hike looking more closely for a loose teddy bear cactus stem than we did watching for rattlesnakes.
I’m grateful for the warning about the cactus and even more grateful for the warnings we find in scripture: “Meanwhile, when a crowd of many thousands had gathered, so that they were trampling on one another, Jesus began to speak first to his disciples, saying: ‘Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what you have whispered in the ear in the inner rooms will be proclaimed from the roofs’” (Luke 12:1-3).
The danger of hypocrisy is how it can lead people astray. It can fool and blind those who are unable to discern. The teddy bear cactus appears to be soft and cuddly, but in reality, it is harmful to us. The Pharisees Jesus warned about were guilty of hypocrisy, and in His kindness, Jesus warned His followers.
Warnings found throughout scripture are there to guide and protect us. They are filled with God’s love, mercy, kindness, compassion, and blessing. Sometimes we hear warnings and choose to ignore them. Sometimes we disbelieve there’s true danger. But when we believe we are hearing a warning from God, we can focus on His nature and character. He loves and cares for us. He desires us to follow truth and not find ourselves at the hands of deception or a prickly, barbed cactus.
In order to strengthen our discernment muscles we can do two things: pray and read the Bible regularly. God delights in answering our requests to become greater discerners in a culture filled with competing ideas to Biblical truth. The more time we spend soaking in God’s Word, the more equipped we are to spot hypocrisy when it presents itself to us. We must be on our guard as Jesus warned us.
As I reflected back to our hike among the prickly teddy bear cacti, I found myself overwhelmed with gratitude for God’s faithful warning and protection. He kept me safe from a plant that appeared soft and cuddly but in reality would pierce my skin and cause severe pain. His heart is to keep us on the safe path. His “word is a lamp for our feet, a light on our path” (Psalm 119:105). On His safe path, we can trust that little by little we will see growth.
Memory Verse: “Therefore, dear friends, since you have been forewarned, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of the lawless and fall from your secure position.” 2 Peter 3:17 NIV