Thursday, January 28, 2016

Hot Pursuit

As I was going through a difficult period of my life, one particular day my husband told me, through a mutual friend of ours, that one of our old pastors was inquiring about me.  My friend wanted to know what should be her response so my hub asked me what I wanted her to say. 

Well I already felt I was the talk of the town.  I thought for sure they had heard some juicy gossip and I just didn’t want them to know any additional information at this time. So he said he’d pass that on.

Time had passed and I was curious whatever happened with that?  What was said to the pastor and how did they respond?  So after much thought, I sent my friend a text and asked her about it.  

My friend told the particular pastor straight up to contact us.  Who doesn't love a personal call from the pastor?  Almost feels like the president calling.  

I had a couple questions of course and my friend began to tell me about their whole conversation.  She said she came right out and asked, “Did you contact them after you inquired the first time?”  But the response was perplexing to me.  

This pastor said, “The Holy Spirit told me not to touch it.”   

I was flabbergasted.  More like, “I’m sorry what did you say?  I’m not really quite sure what is meant by that.  Can you clarify?”  

Now one can only draw their own conclusions by what was exactly meant by that statement, but it doesn’t even sound right to me.  

I’ve been thinking about it on and off since she told me and I wondered to myself, “But dear pastor, if He told you to not touch it, why are you touching it through my friend?”  

I’ve even asked God several times, “IF you told them this, ‘Not to touch this,’ why would You say that?”  I was beginning to feel like I wasn’t worth the effort.  

But I feel like God whispered to my heart, “Look at my character.  Look at what the word says about me.  Is that statement consistent with what you know about me?”  I responded, “No Lord, it isn’t.”

After I waking up one morning with this on my mind, the first thing that popped in my head was, “God came to seek and save that which is lost.”  I began to consider “God is in active pursuit of us."   The story Jesus told about the lost sheep came to me.  He LEFT THE 99 to go after the one that wandered away.  He PURSUED what was lost.  

So on my quest to discover what God is really like in difficult situations began.  This is what I found:

The story of the Good Samaritan is a prime example of God's character.  

Now the man going to Jericho was robbed, stripped naked, beaten and left for half dead.  It just so happened this was the same road the religious leaders traveled down.  They saw him lying there, in need of help yet when they saw him they chose to walk to the other side. 

This story reminds me of the time that I went on a mission’s trip to Kingston, Jamaica.  One of the things we were told was that IF we happened to see someone get attacked and they were lying in the road hurt, we could NOT help them.  We were told that because of the corruption of the law enforcement, we’d be in danger ourselves and may end up dead.  How awful to not even be able to turn to authorities that’s suppose to help you! 

The very people that were suppose to help the man, lying in the road, half dead, didn’t.  They were the authorities of the day.  It took a nobody, an outcast himself, to SHOW UP and take care of him.  This is a story of God showing up through the Good Samaritan. 

I should have been able to count on this pastor.  But when I think of the excuse they gave, to not reach out to my family or myself, this pastor reminds me of the priest or Levite in this story.  They chose to walk to the other side.  

I remembered an old message that Pastor Bob Roberts, of New Life Christian Fellowship, spoke on.  It was out of Luke 7:11-17.  The story is about a mother who’s son had died and his body was being carried in funeral procession. 

What I remember most about his message, well a couple things really, one being that, Pastor Bob spoke of how Jesus touched the coffin and in doing so broke the “rules” of what Rabbi’s should and shouldn’t do.  Touching was forbidden because of the law and customs.  It made a person unclean and unwholesome.  I love the picture this depicts.  Jesus being a rule breaker.  Man’s rules that is.   Pastor Bob also pointed out that Jesus came uninvited.  He didn’t receive an invitation to the funeral BUT He heard the cries and He came.  

Another story is that of Zaccheus.  He was a TAX COLLECTOR, hated by all and a known ‘sinner.’  He was a Jew, working for the Roman government, jacking up the taxes and skimming some off for himself.  So he was REALLY hated!

Because Jesus called Zaccheus to come to him, Zaccheus renounced his ways, gave to the poor, and made restitution for his wrong business practices.  And the most beautiful thing that Jesus said directly to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham.  For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”   Isn’t that the best news for us ALL?!!! 

Moses was a man who was known by the masses as a MURDERER.  He ran away because his crime became known and he was wanted for murder. 
For 40 years he lived in hiding but God came TO him, on the side of a mountain, to bring Him near.  He called out to Moses and Moses said, “Here I am!” 
God didn’t shame Him.  He didn’t tell Moses to confess his sins.  He let Moses know that He was right there with Him and He had a plan and a purpose for him.  

God was on a search and rescue for His runaways, those that are lost, then and He still continues to be.
He rescues the runaway then in turn He commissions the runaway rescues others, all for the purpose of bringing them near. 

And look at the man born blind from birth.  I bet he was a hot mess sitting there day in and day out, begging his whole entire life.  

The disciples assumed sin had been in his life or his parents lives to cause him to be this way.  If they assumed it, the probability is high that others made assumptions about him as well. 

But the beggar’s life was changed that day.  The day Jesus crossed his path.  The day that He reached down on the ground, spit and made mud, slapped in on the man’s eyes, told Him to go wash and He went home seeing!

So after all the above, this is what I know:

This has been a difficult one for me to write.  

At first I was gung ho about it, having a sort of righteous indignation about it but as I’ve sat on it for several days it’s more so saddened me.  As a Christian you hear from the pulpit time and again, “It doesn’t matter how far you fall, what you’ve done, etc.…Jesus is here for you with His loving arms open for you and we’re here for you too.”  

I found that’s simply not the case…at least with some people.

But Jesus.  He’s not the same.  He’s shown a different way.  

The feeling I had, like I wasn't worth the pursuit, the word shows me otherwise.

His word shows me that He doesn’t stay away from hard things.  As a matter of fact, His word shows time and again where He runs to them. 

The lost son.
The lost sheep.
The lost coin.
The lost me.

And He doesn’t walk to the other side when things get hard in MY life.  

He comes near when I have run away.  He comes near when I’m broken, blind, sick, dishonest, or if what I've done seems publicly controversial.  

Oh Jesus.  You touch the untouchable, redeem the unredeemable, forgive the unpardonable, and love the unloveable.

I must keep remembering this. 

If you find yourself in a difficult situation and feel cast aside, please don’t hesitate to reach out.  I wanna be like the Good Samaritan.  I’m here to listen.  There are other Good Samaritans that I know.  They didn’t leave me and I know they wouldn’t leave you.  We all fall.  We all mess up.  But God loves the mess up's.  Don’t stay isolated.  We’re here.  God’s here.  We’re reaching out.  All you have to do is reach back.  

Much Love and Peace,