“Lord, now indeed I find,
Thy power, and Thine alone;
Can change the leper’s spots
And melt the heart of stone.
Jesus paid it all,
all to Him I owe.
Sin had left a crimson stain,
He washed it white as snow.”
(“Jesus Paid It All” – Elvina Hall)
We sang this familiar hymn last week at the prayer group that I go to on Monday nights. You never know who’s going to show up at these meetings – but the regulars are a diverse, Jesus-loving group of individuals that have changed my life in more ways than they’ll ever know. I recently realized (recently as in while I’m typing this) that this Monday night prayer group at Ashley Street has been the single most consistent thing about my entire life since I got home from the Race. For nearly 7 months now, I have spent all but 3, 4, maybe 5, of my Monday evenings in an old house in a small town in Arkansas lifting praises and petitions up to God with one of the most eclectic group of humans that I’ve ever been a part of. Every week looks completely different, but there are two things that you can always count on – we will always sing at least a couple of hymns and we will always, always, always pray. Oh, and there’s almost always hot tea. Those two hours (that often turn into 3 or 4 hours) are one of my favorite parts of the week.
This past week one of our newer friends asked if we could pray for an upcoming doctor’s appointment and some chronic pain that he has to control with medication simply to make get through his everyday life. We prayed and began to sing “Jesus Paid It All.” Though I’ve sung this song a thousand times, my eyes hovered over the second verse like I was reading it for the first time and my hands instinctively reached for my Bible. As the song came to a close, my dear friend Kristi read Ezekiel 36:26 where it talks about receiving a heart of flesh in place of our heart of stone. And as the group launched into another hymn, I finally found the story I’d been looking for in Luke 17:11-19 – Jesus Cleanses Ten Lepers.
This story gives us a beautifully simple prescription for how to experience the Lord’s healing work in our lives. First, the lepers acknowledge their illness, their desperation for cleansing, and their own utter helplessness to save themselves. And how do they do this? By coming before the only One who holds the power to heal and show mercy saying,
“Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.” (v.13)
And how does Jesus respond? “When He saw them He said…” (v. 14) Beloved, God always sees us, and He always responds.
He doesn’t always give us the answer we expect or hope for or want, but He does respond to His children’s cries for mercy when we come to Him. And when He gives us an instruction, no matter how far fetched, or culturally unacceptable, or even dangerous it may be, it is always in our best interest to obey. Healing and abundant life are at stake.
So what happens to these lepers when they embark on their journey of doing exactly what Jesus tells them to do?
“As they went they were cleansed.” (v.14)
This is where it gets good, friends. The lepers received miraculous healing as they went. So too with us, God often heals us in the process of obedience. This is the basic rhythm of life He desires for us – the heartbeat of relationship with Jesus – that we come to Him in our brokenness, listen to His voice, trust that His ways are higher than ours, and thus respond to Him in obedience. Even when His directions don’t fully make sense to us. Especially when they seem utterly foolish.
“For the foolishness of God is wiser than the wisdom of man.” (1 Cor 1:25)
He does not ask us to understand His will or His ways, He asks us simply to trust that His healing will come to us as we go on the path of obedience.
And may we never forget that it is His healing – that no matter how He chooses to bring us deliverance from all manner of suffering and bondage, it is all from His hand. He is the only One who can heal us. He may use medicine or counseling or surgery or a really good book by your favorite Christian author, but may we never forget to follow in the footsteps of that one leper-no-longer who, “when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; and he fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving Him thanks.” (v. 15-16)
We must remember to praise Him for the healing that we have already received, because it bolsters our faith in His promise to bring it to completion in the day of Christ (Phil 1:6). And let us always be praising God for His healing work in our lives, so that every day we may hear Him say to us,
“Rise up and go on your way; your faith has made you well.” (v.19)
As all this was running through my brain at a million miles a minute on Monday night, my ears tuned in to our second hymn of the night and I smiled as the words echoed the very message that the Lord was already putting on my heart:
“When we walk with the Lord
In the light of His Word
What a glory He sheds on our way!
While we do His good will
He abides with us still
And with all who will trust and obey.
But we never can prove
The delights of His love
Until all on the altar we lay
For the favor He shows
And the joy He bestows
Are for them who will trust and obey
Trust and obey
For there’s no other way
To be happy in Jesus
Than to trust and obey.”
(“Trust and Obey” – John H. Sammis)
What a privilege it is to trust and obey Him.
with love and wanderlust,