Sunday, January 23, 2011

With New Eyes

     Just recently, I had a conversation with someone who deeply wounded me many years ago.  Before our encounter, I was contemplating whether I should contact him or just let the situation rest.  He is a member of my family-my own flesh and blood who desperately needs a miracle from God to survive.  I wasn't sure what to say to him or if he would talk to me.  Before our latest conversation, we haven't talked to each other in over 15 years due to the tragic event.  We lost contact with each other because I moved away.  During my early childhood, we had a very close relationship but the relationship never healed.  I was intimated to approach him or allow the pain to re-surface.  Nevertheless, I heard some awful news from other members of the family about him.  His present circumstances caused me to look at him with new eyes, I felt compelled to reach out to him.  Until two years ago, I was the only Christian within my family circle who served the Lord.  So, I felt it was my responsibility to reach out to him before he dies.  He is suffering from a massive tumor in his heart and lungs without any hope of improvement, the doctors have done all they can.  Radiation was able to reduce the tumor in the lungs to allow him to breathe better but that's all.  I felt unsure of what to say but I had to make amends with him.  So many questions were plaguing my mind; I couldn't find any sense of peace or rest within my soul.  What if I never got another chance to talk to him?  What if he never had an opportunity to hear the Gospel message? What if I was the only person who shared Christ with him? Maybe this could be God's chance to perform a miracle of healing to draw other members of the family to Christ.  It felt like eternity was weighing in the balance for his soul, so I had to call him.  I could never forgive myself if I didn't reach out to him or allow Satan the opportunity to take him to Hell.  
      For several days before I called, I was re-living the negative experience that tore our relationshipapart.  I was a child who witnessed a very tragic event but as an adult I started to realize his pain.  All of the hurt, anger, and emotions were playing vivid memories, I wanted to forget.  Sadly, I started to realize a truth a college professor said, "Hurting people will hurt others." Unfortunately, I realized how true this statement was.  In my family tree it isn't surprising to find some members addicted to alcohol.  Children of alcoholic parents have a great chance of repeating the same deadly addiction. The only reason I didn't repeat this curse, I accepted Jesus Christ as my personal Savior.  As I grew in Christ, I did forgive him but my gift was hidden from him.  Until this night, he never was unable to untie the love of forgiveness from my heart.
     Before I dialed the number, I prayed for the Lord's guidance and wisdom.  Much to my surprise, he was so delighted to hear my voice and talk to me.  We discussed his medical condition, our family's current events, and our families’ bitter spirits.  It seems no one wants to take the step of love to bring healing to all their lives.  Their own pride has blinded them of the greatest gift we possess, the ability to love and be loved.  Even as a walking dead man, some of the members of the family are unwilling to reach out to him.  It just broke my heart to see how Satan has destroyed them.  We discussed this situation but he spoke some important truths, life is too short to be bitter.  Also, it’s time to let go of the past and find a way to heal from it.  At the close of the conversation, I was able to pray for him to receive a physical healing, a closer walk with God, and peace of mind.  After praying for him, I received a surprised blessing from God, the healing of a broken heart.  
      As Christians, we are anointed to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ to bring healing to the brokenhearted.  We are providing the spiritual bandages to help people to become whole.  We can't help the drug addict, the alcoholic, or the prostitute until we realize their spirits are broken.  The prisoners are in jail not for an act of crime but an act of broken spirits.  Please don't get me wrong, it was an act of their freewill to choose to perform those crimes.  The punishment is a consequence of their choices but they deserve another option.  No one deserves to live with guilt, shame, and condemnation in their lives.  Many people suffer an emotional prison due to their lack of knowledge of the greatest option-Jesus Christ.  We have to stop knocking people down further into their pit of shame; we need to lift them out.  
     Have you ever read the story of the great Samaritan?  It's a beautiful story told by Jesus himself. Before Jesus teaches the parable, an expert of the law confronts Jesus with a question, "What must I do to inherit eternal life?"  Jesus was asked this question to be tested for His knowledge.  However, Jesus turned the question back to him, "What does the law say?"  The man replied, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with your entire mind.  And to love your neighbor as yourself.  Jesus advised he answered it correctly.  But the man asked Jesus the question, "Who is my neighbor?" 

      Now before we continue the lesson, we need to understand some important facts.  The road from Jerusalem to Jericho was a very dangerous place to travel because of the robbers and bandits.  It was an extremely narrow road and the only means to the temple.  Jesus starts the parable about a man traveling this dangerous road to be discovered by some robbers.  Obviously, the robbers stole his goods but nearly beat him half to death.  As the man lies near his death, people are walking by without much concern.  Even the holy officials (priest, Levite) walk by without lifting a finger to assist the man.  
    In the Old Testament, if a priest walked by a dead man, he was to perform certain duties to become clean again.  Also, he wasn't allowed to be in their midst until all the stages of this cleansing was finished.  Both the priests and Levites had particular roles with the tabernacle and the sacrifices.  Only the priests were able to perform the sacrifices for sin, grain offerings, and duties inside the Holy of Holies.  The Levites mainly took care of the moving of the ark, the tabernacle, and its furnishings.  Nevertheless, both of these men were called by God to reach out to the hurting, sadly both parties didn't lift a finger.   
     The only man who didn't walk by was a Samaritan who was considered the enemy. As the Samaritan walked by, he had compassion upon the wounded man.  Jesus gives great detail of how this Samaritan treats the wounded man.  First, he bandaged up all of the wounds and pours oil and wine upon him.  The Samaritan traveled on foot to the inn why the wounded man rode upon his donkey. Next, he provided shelter for the sick man during his recovery period.  He paid with his own money and advised the innkeeper if there were extra expenses, he would take care of it.  
     This parable is not only powerful but a true example of true compassion for another person.  It's easy to offer words to someone who is hurting but words can't feed, clothe, or cure the physical wounds.   We are called to care for the complete person’s wellbeing, so obviously it will cost us time and money to help the needy.  Just food for thought, who do you think the wounded man would have wanted to follow?  I don't believe he would have followed the leaders of the house of God?  They missed the opportunity to truly minister to someone in need.  Let’s be honest, who hasn't missed the opportunity?  Yes, we need to repent for missing the opportunity but I still believe God will provide another chance.  Just keep in mind, the hurting are not only in the street but sometimes across your dining room table.  We don't have to travel to a foreign country to find the hungry, abused, or needy.  We just have to walk down the street, go to the grocery store, work, or to church.  The hurting are not traveling far from us, we just have to open our eyes with compassion to see them.
 I just want to challenge you to allow the Holy Spirit to lead your steps this week.  God has a divine appointment assigned for you, just be available and willing to serve.

 JOHN 3:16-17
ISAIAH 61:1-11
LUKE 10:25-37