Thursday, May 1, 2014

Stretch Out Your Hand

I don't take for granted that I get to study the Bible with my best friend. To be able to sit and read and share and discuss and question and dig in with her has been one of life's greatest gifts. I hope that she will not mind me telling you, but when her life hit "rock bottom" the Word is where she turned. She devoured it. Drew hope and strength from it.  And the wisdom and insight that God has laid upon her is simply incredible.

Together, we have been facilitating the study of Matthew on Monday nights. Now Matthew, for me, will forever hold a special place in my heart. It's where I found myself planted during my "rock bottom." It's where I met Jesus, and where I drew my strength and my hope during those dark days. So to revisit it with her and the new perspectives she has brought has made for one incredible journey.

This past week as we were preparing for Chapter 12 we got lost in the story of Jesus healing the man with the disfigured hand. I've read this passage several times and never before saw what she did.

"Why did this man stretch out his deformed hand?" she asked. She went on to explain that if she or I had a broken, deformed or disabled hand, it would most likely be second nature to stretch out our "good" one.

But this man didn't.

To be honest, I've wrestled over this this past week. You see, I can remember clearly the times where He has said "Mel, stretch out __________," and instead of holding out my weakness, I laid forth my strengths. Instead of trusting that He would love me no matter what, I tried to save face and lived in the denial of my failures. Instead of mustering up the courage to believe that He would break the chains that have held me captive,  I resigned to live in their misery and bondage.

Because . . . .
It's easier for me if He does not open those hidden doors of secrets.
It's easier for me if He works in my comfort zone.
It's easier for me if He uses me where I feel equipped.
It's easier for me if He calls me to safe places.
And it's in the easy, that I stay stagnant and unchanged.
It's in the easy that the greatest blessings of this life are missed.

As I am learning, I see . . .
It's behind those doors of hidden secrets where freedom is found.
It's out side of my comfort zone, where my faith in Him is deepened.
It is outside my feelings of readiness that my trust in Him is strengthened.
It's outside of those safe havens where I learn that He is always with me.
It's in giving Him my weaknesses that I find the strength in Him to overcome.
To change for the better.

In the midst of Matthew 12, among the attempts to trap and angry plots to kill Jesus, there lies this beautiful story of an out stretched hand. One that represents fear and faith, shame and salvation, repulsiveness and redemption. A story that reminds us that in our weakness He is strong and in our failures He is triumphant.

Be bold, stretch out that hand--the disfigured one, and watch what a merciful God can do with the messes we lay before Him.

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