Mandy Baker Johnson

Living without Shadows

Tag: heal

Keziah’s Diary: Heal

The strangest thing happened yesterday . I’m still reeling from it. Did I imagine it? No, I feel different, I look different. Oh wow, this is amazing.

I went to work as usual. I hoped I’d get customers quickly so I could buy food and go home. There was nothing in the cupboards. I should probably plan better but my head is all over the place and it’s hard to get into a routine. I say ‘is’. I think all that is going to change now….

Business was slow. I stood patiently in the hot sun on my usual corner, I like this spot because there’s an olive tree that provides a bit of shade. And I eat the olives when they’re ripe, probably shouldn’t, but there we are.

Late afternoon I saw this group of men heading towards me. I patted my hair tidy and struck an alluring pose. 

They looked an odd bunch to be friends: some were clearly manual labourers judging from their muscles, one had the despicable air of a tax collector and I recognised one as a terrorist. But their leader, he was something else altogether. One look at him and I knew he’d never take part in my kind of business.

I pulled my robe tighter around me and turned away. I wished the ground would open up and cover me. I felt so ashamed and dirty. I was worthless, less than nothing. I wished I’d never been born. My life was pointless: how many times have I been used and not paid, or abused? Because the men I deal with think they can do what they like and get away with it.

But he came closer until he was standing right in front of me.

‘What do you want me to do for you?’

The words were so gentle and gave me the tiniest bit of hope. Such a simple question, yet coming from him it broke down the barriers I’d erected.

I longed for peace more than anything. To be able to sleep at night like a baby. For relief from these terrible, jagged, emotional wounds that cracked and bled at the slightest provocation.

‘Peace,’ I whispered.

‘I give you My peace. Don’t be troubled or afraid. I am giving you life. This is why I came: to bind up your broken heart and heal your wounds.’

At once I felt different, lighter, as if a very heavy load had been lifted. I raised my head and smiled at him. He beamed back. ‘I’m Jesus. What’s your name?’

‘Keziah.’

He squeezed my hand.

What a Man! He didn’t want anything from me, but gave hope, and peace, and life. Wow. I love this Man.

And guess what, last night I slept like a baby.

  

 

Samuela and the Captain

‘Samuela nooo!’

My ima’s heartrending screams filled my ears as the tall soldier dragged me away. I stumbled along beside him, unable to see through my tears, until he pushed me to the ground with a stern ‘Wait here.’

My best friend Deborah wailed next to me and I put my arm around her, ‘Surely Yahweh is still with us.’

When the army had finished ransacking our village for valuables, they roped the captives together and forced us to march. We walked for days. Deborah and I stayed together, helping each other as much as the ropes would allow.

The captain looked me over. He had already chosen the best of the male prisoners for himself. I stared at the ground, scared of what might happen. 

‘You’ll do for my wife,’  he said.

His friend liked the look of Deborah and pulled her into his tent that night. I held my hands over my ears to block out the sound of her distress. I was terrified the captain would do the same to me but he left me alone.

The sun was setting when we finally arrived in the big city of Damascus. The soldiers untied the captives, and Deborah was led away by the man who had forced her into his tent each night. Tears made muddy tracks down my dirty cheeks when I saw my only friend being taken away. I knew no one.

‘Come.’

black-horseCaptain Naaman on his majestic black horse led the way to his house, we his slaves trying our best to keep up with him. I shivered with cold and fear, having been captured in my thin dress which was torn and dirty from the long journey.

A well dressed servant came out to greet his master.

Captain Naaman commanded that the male slaves be taken to the outside dwellings. Then he turned to me. ‘And this one is for my wife. You had better clean her up before she comes into the house.’

I was led to a room where I could wash, and a clean tunic was brought for me.

One of the household servants led me into a large and beautiful room. It was the richest place I had ever been in. Reclining couches were laid out here and there on the marble floor, and I could hear water tinkling in the background. I found out later it was a fountain.

‘Come here little girl,’ said a woman’s voice.

I raised my head and saw a dark-haired lady reclining on one of the couches. She held out her hand and I went and stood before her.

‘What is your name?’

‘Samuela.’ I whispered.

It was the first word I had said since comforting Deborah when we were first captured weeks ago.

Odd that my name should be the first word I said in this new, strange place. My abba and ima had given it to me because they thought they could not have children. They pleaded with God for many years. When He answered their prayers, they planned to call the baby Samuel which means ‘God hears’, but when I – a daughter – was born, they changed it to Samuela.

    *     *     *     *     *     *     *

mop

My mistress was kind, and though I had to work hard as her maid, I was never mistreated. Captain Naaman was a fair man and his servants had no need to be afraid of him unless they had done something wrong.

It was awful when the captain noticed the small discoloured patches on his arms. The doctor confirmed leprosy. We thought his army career was over but the king wanted Captain Naaman to stay in charge of his army because the captain was a formidable soldier who had led many victories.

But over time, he began to lose feeling in his limbs. It was dangerous for a soldier to go into battle unable to feel pain when he was wounded. We knew it was a matter of time before he lost a limb or went blind.

One morning, I stood behind his wife brushing out her beautiful long, dark hair. I heard a sniffling noise and quietly stepped across the bed chamber for a piece of linen which I handed to her.

‘Thank you Samuela,’ she said. ‘I am so worried about my husband. We have prayed and made sacrifices to our god Rimmon but his leprosy is getting worse.’

‘My God, Yahweh, could heal him.’

My mistress turned round so quickly I jumped.

‘What did you say, Samuela?’

I cleared my throat. ‘I wish my master would go to Yahweh’s prophet in Samaria. He would heal him of the leprosy.’

My mistress eagerly pressed me for details and I told her all I could remember about the prophet Elisha, and how Yahweh worked miracles through him.

‘Naaman! Naaman!’

I could hear them talking. Then the captain left the house. My mistress told me he had gone to see the king.

The captain returned with a letter from the king and made preparations immediately to travel to Samaria. There was an expectant air in the house. Could he really be cured of this horrible skin condition?

 *     *     *     *     *     *     *

Less than a month later, Captain Naaman returned home. His skin was as clear as a baby’s.

muddy-riverMy mistress told me the whole story, of how the master had caused panic in the king of Samaria’s palace when he turned up there asking to be healed. Thankfully, Elisha the prophet heard about it and sent a message with the instructions for the captain to wash seven times in the Jordan River.

My master was furious at first because he thought Elisha should chant incantations and wave his hands over the leprosy. But some of his trusted servants who had accompanied him convinced him to give it a try. The Jordan is nothing like the clean rushing waters of the rivers flowing through Damascus. But my master did as he was instructed and was completely healed of leprosy.

Now my master and my mistress worship the one true God. My God: the One who heals.

Hidden

You see the things I try to hide –
Attitudes and what I really think and feel,
old guilt, past shame, a held grudge;
hurts and wounds that can never heal?
Things I’ve pushed so deep inside
that even I don’t know what’s there.

Hidden from me but never from You.
You plummet the depths and raise to the surface
things You want to deal with and heal
when You deem the time is right.

Your thoughts toward me are precious,
more numerous than sand on a seashore.
When seemingly random thoughts float across my mind
they often highlight something not right.

Can I deal with what’s hidden?
No! Too painful, too hard, too scary;
that’s my comfort blanket, I can’t let go.

But You hold my hand
and we plummet the depths together.
There’s nothing hidden in me that You’re not equal to.

You saw my darkness, my emptiness on the cross,
and for the joy of knowing me and setting me free,
You died for me.
You’ve already dealt with all that’s hidden in me
because it never was hidden from You.

Witness

‘As God is my witness….’

People sometimes say that to assert their innocence or to show they really mean what they are about to say.

God is their witness. He is privy to everything we do and think. He knows the secrets in our hearts.

God knows when you’re hurting, when things aren’t fair, when you are so stressed with balancing stuff that you don’t have any head space left. Maybe you’ve witnessed something you wish you hadn’t.

If you are weary and feeling heavy with all the burdens you’re carrying, Jesus says: ‘Come.’

‘Come to Me, and I will give you rest.’

God isn’t a cold-hearted witness. He heals and restores, He mends broken hearts, He bandages wounds. He gives hope and peace and joy.

God is nice, and He likes you.

Heal

For years I didn’t believe God healed today. Now I do.

For years, I didn’t see miracles so I didn’t think God did them any more. But stories like the one I’m about to tell changed my mind.

About a year ago, a man visited our church one Sunday. During the worship time, an invitation was given for anyone needing healing to go forward for ministry. This man had a damaged knee. It was painful and he’d been struggling for months. He was due to have major surgery that week. He decided to go forward for prayer. Adi went to him, laid hands on his knee and prayed for healing. The man said it felt better and they both went back to their seats.

The following week, our pastor had an email from the man. He had gone to see his orthopaedic surgeon as planned but when they did pre-operative scans, they could find no damage at all. In fact, the surgeon was astonished to see that the knee was in such good condition, it looked as if it belonged to someone twenty years younger.

One of the names God uses for Himself is: God your Healer (Jehovah Rophi). He hasn’t changed. He is still able and willing to heal, far more than we are willing to ask.

Live

What do you live for? What’s your motivation?

It might be family or your career or cats.

Jesus came to raise our expectations. He invites us to abundant life.

When I was ill with ME/chronic fatigue and some days all I could do was breathe, I knew abundant life inside. Jesus gave me an impossible joy that had nothing to do with circumstances and didn’t take energy. He gave it. While I would never want to go back to being ill, I wouldn’t have missed knowing the nearness of God for anything.

Abundant life is all about knowing Jesus. He invites us to follow Him and to put Him first in our lives. I’ve found asking myself this question helpful: ‘If Jesus were living my life right now, what would He do?’

Jesus said that if we seek first His Kingdom, the Father will provide everything we need. We don’t need to worry about what will happen because we have a Daddy in heaven who has endless resources, is richer than we can begin to imagine, and has promised to take care of all of our needs. In the last couple of years, I’ve been daring to believe this is true. It is. It may not always look like what I expect, but He does provide.

Seek first His Kingdom. What does that look like?

When Jesus sent out His followers on a preaching trip, He urged them: ‘Proclaim as you go saying the Kingdom of heaven is at hand. Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. You received with paying, give without pay.’

His commission hasn’t changed. God still wants us doing these things. How else can people see Him? In some parts of the world, seeing the dead raised is normal. I can testify to God’s healing power in my own life. I’ve also had demons cast out of me.

If God is who He says He is, why wouldn’t He do these things?

He loves us, He reveals Himself to us, He is the one who pursues us. It’s not the other way around. We know love because He shows us what it looks like. We live because He is the source of life.

Hand2,000 years ago, Jesus’ friend Peter saw Jesus walking on water and said to Him, ‘Lord if that’s really You, call me to join You.’

With a smile (I’m sure), Jesus said, ‘Peter, come.’

Peter scrambled out of the boat and walked on water. Just like Jesus.

But then he saw the waves and freaked out. What am I doing?! Aaaaggghhh! Peter began to sink and yelled for help. Immediately Jesus grabbed his hand and pulled him up, back onto the top of the water.

Jesus offers us abundant life and He invites us to get out of the boat and go on Kingdom adventures with Him. Are you up for it?

 

 

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