[Guest Post by Jami Witherell – I “met” Jami when I watched her episode on Extreme Makeover Weight Loss Edition. She inspired me to try running for the first time. Her story was so real, so honest (my kind of friend). She shared on the …
I believe God is serious when he asks you and I the question, “Do you want to get well?”
In John 5, we read the story of an invalid who had been seriously crippled for many, many, many, many years. In other words–a long time! The story goes,
“Some time later, Jesus went up to Jerusalem for one of the Jewish festivals. Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gatea pool, which in Aramaic is called Bethesda and which is surrounded by five covered colonnades. Here a great number of disabled people used to lie—the blind, the lame, the paralyzed. One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, ‘Do you want to get well?’
‘Sir,’ the invalid replied, ‘I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.’
Then Jesus said to him, ‘Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.’ At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked (John 5:1-9, NIV).
I wonder how long you have been suffering and struggling to get into a place of healing? Every time you come close like the invalid in John 5–something or someone sabotages your chances to receive God’s healing.
Maybe it’s a co-worker.
Maybe it’s your bank account (or lack thereof).
Maybe it’s a family member.
Or maybe it’s your own excuses (ouch!).
But I have to wonder if un-forgiveness is one of the things stopping you from walking in healing.
David, a man familiar with suffering, pain, forgiveness, and repentance wrote,
“Blessed is the one whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the one whose sin the Lord does not count against them and in whose spirit is no deceit. When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy on me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer. Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord.’ And you forgave the guilt of my sin” (Psalm 32:1-5, NIV).
My story is similar.
When I kept silent my skin (not bones) wasted away. Literally. I remember it like it was yesterday. I was sitting in the hospital bed at San Diego Children’s Hospital with no skin on my face and feet. All because I had cried over a boy. I couldn’t let go. I couldn’t forgive him for leading me on. I wanted nothing more than to feel loved again. I went three whole days before my mom could get me to stop crying. At that point my body broke down. The rash that had started on my toe spread across the tops of my feet and then to my face when I rubbed the tears off my face.
I share how miserable I was because I know that I’m not the only one who struggles with unforgiveness.
I share my story in my new book, Forgiving Others, Forgiving Me because I had never experienced God’s in such a powerful way, that was what caused me to finally believe.
This past week, I visited Family Christian Stores and found they will be placing Forgiving Others, Forgiving Me in the Wellness section. At first, I thought it would be in the Christian Living section. Nope! Next I thought it would be in Women’s Interest section. Wrong again. When I found out FCS is placing my book in the Wellness section I had to catch my breath.
“Forgiveness doesn’t just affect relationships, but the body, soul, mind, and strength. It took my body ten years to heal from that health crash. I don’t know why God didn’t step in and heal me. But because God allowed my rash to spread I have an even bigger story to tell–one that doesn’t just end with forgiveness but restoration.” (Forgiving Others, Forgiving Me, 115)?
Today, choose to let go of your unforgiveness and watch God heal you of your past hurts, present circumstances, and future fears.
Do you want to get well?
Say it with me, “YES!”
[Photo: ergobachmann, Flickr]
[Guest Post by Rayni Peavy – I am so glad I met Rayni two years ago at the San Diego Christian Writer’s Guild. I have seen her blossom in her writing and in life. It’s so neat that she choose to share about surrendered dreams, because we don’t always see or meet a person when they’re in the season of waiting. May her story encourage you to hang in there and keep dreaming even when you can’t see anything!]
I’m just like you. I have a dream. Many dreams, in fact.
There are things that I long to accomplish because they make my heart sing. And there are prophecies spoken over my life about plans I believe God has for me in the future.
Now that I’m in my mid-thirties some of my earlier life dreams have already happened. Like going to a certain college, working in full-time ministry, marrying my wonderful husband, and getting to be a homemaker and writer.
There are other dreams that I am incredibly excited about that have not yet come to fruition.
Some of these dreams are very specific and others are deep cries in my heart that I have not been fully able to put into words. Either way, I’m excited to see how God unfolds it all.
I’m learning how to give God my surrendered dreams.
Not because I don’t want the dream.
But I need to hold it with open hands and let God be in control of it. Because if I’m in control I will more than likely run with my own wisdom or my own timing and screw things up.
We all know what happens when we try to take charge of making a dream or a promise from God happen–thanks for the lesson Abraham & Sarah–so I want to be intentional about walking in a constant state of surrender to God.
There are even times when I’ve had to let go of a dream and let it seemingly die.
Several years ago I had to do that with writing. Although I had a passion for writing my outlook about it became more me-centered than God-centered. So I had to surrender it to God and let it all go for awhile. I needed to re-focus on God rather than on my dream. During that time I read these words from Jesus:
“I assure you, most solemnly I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains [just one grain; it never becomes more but lives] by itself alone. But if it dies, it produces many others and yields a rich harvest.” John 12:24 AMP
Jesus is talking about sacrificing His life but as I read it I couldn’t help but also think about my surrendered dreams of writing being like a tiny grain buried and dead beneath the soil. Would it be under that soil forever? In the right time however, God’s timing, He allowed my buried dream to sprout and grow, bringing a harvest with it.
One of the roadblocks to a bountifully sprouting harvest is spending too much time focusing on the past.
We all have hurts, regrets and negative experiences from our past that can keep us a prisoner if left undealt with. Unhealthy coping skills, believing lies about ourselves or even romanticizing the good old days can also steal our present and future.
I encourage you to get the help you need to work through wounds from your past.
I have gone to many counseling and prayer sessions where God has met me and set me free. This frees me up even more to actually live out the dreams God has placed in my heart.
Another roadblock can be focusing too much on the future.
God often not only gives us a specific dream for the future but also leads us to do practical things now that prepare us for where He’s taking us. Do what He shows you to do, but also be mindful of not squandering what God has given you for today because you’re spending too much time daydreaming about the future.
Remember that God wants to fellowship with you and use you to love others today.
Even when I’m working through past issues and doing things to prepare for the future, it’s important to be intentional about living in the now!
Let God interrupt your daily schedule with ministry opportunities even as you pursue your surrendered dreams.
Over the past 15 years Rayni has discovered that nothing is better than knowing Jesus! She has enjoyed working at churches on the East and West Coasts as a Bible teacher, mentor to young adults and an event coordinator. In her free time Rayni likes staring at the ocean, exploring new cuisine with her “foodie” husband and learning to speak French. You can read more on her website www.RayniPeavy.com and follow her on Twitter.
[Monthly Contributor – Hannah Stovall – I specifically asked her to write an article about the Kermit Gosnell trial. In light of the Boston Marathon, we as Americans can’t be afraid. We can no longer afford to stay comfortable. What is happening in the world …
As the creator of Quarter Life Conference, I am honored to announce the next #QLC online event on June 20th on the topic of church. Honestly? This couldn’t come at a more important time. Earlier this week, I heard the devastating news that Pastor Rick …
This April I am introducing a new theme on pursuing dreams.
When I was in my early 20’s, I had a dream about my future. I was at a concert and I had a brochure of people’s pictures and where they would end up in 20 years based on the choices they were making today.
I hoped to see my picture, and when I did I was immediately excited. In my picture, I saw that I was married and we had a daughter.
I couldn’t wait for this dream to come true.
I became very frustrated when the years 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, and 25 went by with no hope of my future husband in sight. I started to wonder if I had heard God wrong.
I was raised in a conservative Christian home that groomed me to be a wife and a mother. I quickly learned I needed business skills and an education so I went back to college, to Biola University and finished my degree in my mid 20’s, and it was during this time a co-worker said this to me:
“God wants to birth a ministry through you–if you’ll let him–not to say your future husband isn’t important.”
What do you mean my future husband isn’t important?
My whole life I believed getting married was the most important thing I could do to secure a lasting future–so much so that I even had a dream about it. It took me years 26, 27, 28, and 29 to learn God really did have a ministry for me (writing).
I believe now more than ever–God wants to give 20 & 30-somethings big dreams.
And not just dreams for a future husband, a stellar career, a perfect family, or a padded bank account and a 401k retirement plan. No!
He wants you and I to identify with Him.
To deny our selfish rights and pride, pick up our own cross, take it with us on our shoulders, and follow Him. Doesn’t sound so appealing does it?
In foreign countries today, Jesus is visiting people in dreams and visions. Dreams and visions are not happening as much in the United States as they are overseas. I believe it’s because we are not persecuted for our faith (at least not yet anyway).
Why are dreams so important? Why is it that prayers and dreams lead prisoners to freedom over there and not here?
I read this sentence from Captive In Iran a new book published by Tyndale Publishers. It haunted me immediately. I read it after I had already decided on April’s theme of pursuing dreams. It was about the accounts of Maryam Rostampour and Marziyeh Amirizadeh–both 20-something women–who were imprisoned in Evin Prison in Tehran, Iran.
Their story shattered my American plastic Christianity pretty quickly.
Although I will never be able to share publicly why their story means so much to me–I can tell you I agree 100% about the statement that prayers and dreams lead people from imprisonment to freedom.
I wished I hadn’t spent so much of my 20’s fishing for a husband, when God wished to bless me with so much more.
Eventually God brought my husband to me anyway–I didn’t even have to go fishing.
Going back to Maryam and Marziyeh’s story. What impacted me the most from reading their story is the fact that they spent the entire book talking more about the other prisoners and less about their story. I was moved to tears at the end of the book when they found out one of their most closest friends in Evin Prison was hanged to death. She was only 28 years old.
Are your dreams big enough that you’re willing to die for them?
Too big that you run away? Or too small that you lose all hope? It is my desire this month to share other stories that will inspire you to once again pick up your cross–I mean dream–and follow Christ.
Maybe you’re currently experiencing the death of a vision.
Maybe you’re waiting for the dream to be born and it’s been years.
Or maybe you’re in the delivery room about ready to give birth to that dream.
I believe that God has a dream for you too–a personal dream that involves more than you’ll ever dare to dream, ask for, or hope.
“Where there is no vision [no redemptive revelation of God], the people perish; but he who keeps the law [of God, which includes that of man]—blessed (happy, fortunate, and enviable) is he” (Proverbs 29:18, AMP).
[Monthly Contributor – Hannah Stovall – I always appreciate the way Hannah’s writes about events with such child-like faith. As she writes about Good Friday, I can’t help but see the wonder from the point of view of a child.] Working in children’s ministry, my …