Stephanie Rische

Stubbing My Toe on Grace

Do You Want to Get Well? November 12, 2013

Filed under: Faith — Stephanie Rische @ 7:59 am
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My nemesis has always been the easy question, the short answer.

 

In school, I despised true/false questions on tests. I’d have been happy to write you an essay, but heaven forbid I had to nail it down to one lousy word. I always managed to overthink it—agonizing over nuances, seeking out potential loopholes, and doing mental gymnastics until my mind (and my eraser) wore thin.

 

When I’m taking opinion surveys, I get equally stressed by number rankings. On a scale of 1 to 5, how would you rate the service? Out of five stars, how much did you like the book? On a scale of 1 to 10, how are you feeling? Again, I could give you a full narrative, brimming with details, but for the love, please don’t make me commit to a cold, hard number.

 

Now that I’m married to a man who is economical with his words, I’ve noticed this pattern of mine rearing its head in less than flattering ways. He’ll ask me a simple question requiring a one-word answer (Yes? No?) and I’ll tell him a story instead, leaving him adrift to translate my answer into checkboxes.

 

The problem seems to be the worst when it comes to admitting I need help. My servant-hearted husband asks things like:

 

Do you need me to run any other errands?

Would you like me to parallel-park the car?

What else needs to be cleaned?

Can I help you?

 

And what should I do in these situations? I should whip out my short answers of YES PLEASE and THANK YOU. But instead I make excuses, give explanations, try to pretend I can handle all of it, all the time.

 healing3

 

I’m sure I’ve read the account of Jesus healing the blind man a bunch of times since my Sunday school days, but something new struck me when I recently read it again.

 

When Jesus saw him and knew he had been ill for a long time, he asked him, “Would you like to get well?”

 “I can’t, sir,” the sick man said, “for I have no one to put me into the pool when the water bubbles up. Someone else always gets there ahead of me.”

—John 5:6-7

 

Did you catch that? Jesus asks him a simple question—Would you like to get well?—and the guy answers a different question altogether, explaining why it’s impossible.

 

The answer is YES, dude. Yes, you want to get well.

 

Take it from someone who tends to get it wrong: if Jesus asks you if you want to be healed, don’t make excuses. Don’t tell him why it’s impossible. Don’t list all the reasons it won’t work. Don’t go on and on with a story. Just say yes, and let him figure out the rest.

 

So what about our own ailments? Not all of us are battling physical blindness, but there’s no doubt something we need healing from.

 

Do you want to be healed from the worry that plagues you when the clock is stuck at 2 a.m.?

 

Do you want to be healed from the fear that chokes you from spreading your wings to do the very thing you were made to do?

 

Do you want to be healed from the unforgiveness that’s gnawing away at your gut?

 

Do you want to be healed from the wound that was left by the betrayal, the unkind words, the severed relationship?

 

YES. The answer is yes—you want to be well, and so do I. That doesn’t mean all our prayers will magically be answered just the way we want them to. But Jesus is asking. He is ready to heal.

 

Will you say YES?

healing1

 

Healing of the Slow Variety October 30, 2012

Filed under: Mark — Stephanie Rische @ 8:11 am
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Two people I love are struggling with physical ailments right now—the kind where doctors can’t quite figure out what’s going on and recovery is agonizingly slow.

 

I’ve been praying for a miracle for them—a miracle of the quick variety. There is some precedent for these kinds of speedy healings in the Bible. Many times throughout the Gospels, Jesus puts his hand on someone and brings instant recovery. The deaf hear. The blind see. Pick up your mat and go home. 

 

 

After reading story upon story in the Gospels when Jesus merely says the word and a little girl is healed, or a woman touches the hem of his garment and is immediately restored, I was a bit surprised by Mark’s account of a blind man who was brought to Jesus for healing:

 

Some people brought a blind man to Jesus, and they begged him to touch the man and heal him. Jesus took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the village. Then, spitting on the man’s eyes, he laid his hands on him and asked, “Can you see anything now?”

The man looked around. “Yes,” he said, “I see people, but I can’t see them very clearly. They look like trees walking around.”

Then Jesus placed his hands on the man’s eyes again, and his eyes were opened. His sight was completely restored, and he could see everything clearly.

—Mark 8:22-25

 

Why, I wonder, did Jesus have to touch the man’s eyes twice before he could see clearly? No doubt Jesus had the power to heal in one fell swoop if he’d wanted to, as he’d done on numerous occasions in the past. So what was different this time?

 

I can only venture guesses as to why. Maybe the gradual healing was for the blind man’s sake. Maybe he was able to more fully appreciate his sight when it was unveiled to him one step at a time. Or maybe the phases of healing were so the blind man could share his unique story afterward.

 

I recently had the privilege of hearing Steve Saint speak. This once active man, the founder of the nonprofit ministry I-TEC, spoke to my company via Skype from his bed, where he has been confined for the past several months. In June of this year, he was injured by a piece of equipment he was testing, leaving him an incomplete paraplegic.

 

 

Steve is currently in the agonizing process of relearning the most basic of skills—figuring out where his hand is and then trying to make it move. People around the world are praying for a miracle for him, but at this point it doesn’t look like it’s going to be the one-step instantaneous type of miracle. It looks like for him, healing may come in stages.

 

But as difficult as this process must be for him and for his family, I am struck by the extraordinary testimony Steve has to tell as a result. It’s one thing to remain faithful to God when he does the quick miracle and you’re back to life as usual. It’s another thing altogether to proclaim God’s goodness while you’re flat on your back, struggling to swallow your own saliva.

 

“The church in America is used to serving out of a place of strength,” Steve said. “But now I’ve been given a gift. I’m learning what it means to serve out of my weakness.”

 

At the end of his talk, Steve shared the words of a poem called “The Thorn.” He knows now, in a whole new way, what it is to be a mendicant, a beggar, before God’s throne.

 

I stood a mendicant of God before His royal throne
And begged him for one priceless gift, which I could call my own.
I took the gift from out His hand, but as I would depart
I cried, “But Lord this is a thorn and it has pierced my heart.
This is a strange, a hurtful gift, which Thou hast given me.”
He said, “My child, I give good gifts and gave My best to thee.”
I took it home and though at first the cruel thorn hurt sore,
As long years passed I learned at last to love it more and more.
I learned He never gives a thorn without this added grace,
He takes the thorn to pin aside the veil which hides His face.

—“The Thorn” by Martha Snell Nicholson

* * *

Lord, we are beggars, every one of us. We beg you for healing, whether it comes in a moment or a lifetime. In the meantime, give us the story you want us to tell—and the courage to tell it.

 

I’ve taken the challenge of reading the Bible chronologically this year and tracing the thread of grace through it. These musings are prompted by my reading. I’d love to have you join me: One Year Bible reading plan.