Not pretty, these characters. They've been hanging out in my backyard. Yellow dog chewed their button eyes and noses. They've been soaked to the stuffing, matted in leaves and debris. They are the dispersed, the weary, the forgotten. I meant to gather them inside a few days ago, but yeah, they are truly the forgotten.
A friend texted, "Will you do me a favor and pray on Matthew 10 with me?"
I have, and I am, and more. I've backed up to Matthew 9 with this question that I doubt I'll ever know the complete answer to. Theologians don't even know-not really. I wonder about faith and healing. It's what's being talked about in these Matthew chapters.
Seems faith isn't the only holy topic here. Seems healing is holy topic, too. There's a relationship between faith and healing, and I wonder about it. Why isn't this relationship understood as clearly as it's written about? What's the muddle?
I'm muddled by it; and so are the scholars and denominations, and even nations. I wonder, Does the holy relationship between faith and healing seem to be securely wed in worship meetings held beneath a big African sky, or on a littered beach in Southern India, or in a remote Haitian village and not so trustfully wed in the tidy wrap where worship is dressed up pretty?
I read about the diseased, the possessed, the leprous, dressed in rags and dirty.
I read about the paralyzed, and picture them looking a bit like the mangy characters in my backyard. They are the paralyzed. The beggars who can't move indoors when it rains hard and debris falls about them and gets soft and smelly in the damp.
I read about the young girl who died from sickness. He father traveled far to find Jesus, certain that He would raise her from the dead.
Then there's a woman whose flow hasn't stopped for twelve years. She's outcast and she smells and, thanks to physicians' fees, she's down to her last cent. Braving the crowds, she searched for Jesus, certain that He would heal her.
Well, I'm searching for Him, too. "Walk me through these chapters in Matthew, Lord." I'm certain He will mend the gaps in my understanding. "Darn the holes," I picture Him with darning needle in hand; and, "Darn them holes!" I mean it like it sounds. I do.
"Let's go for a walk." He doesn't expect seamless understanding, but is happy I desire it. And I'm happy that I don't have to brave crowds, travel to the next town, or be jostled in a multitude the likes of the blind and the mute I've lifted from the damp and placed on patio chair. Maybe I shouldn't be happy about the convenience, but the presence of Jesus is something to be happy about.
I've read the Pharisees saw that Jesus sat and supped with tax collectors and sinners, and then asked His disciples, "Why does your Teacher eat with them?"
I don't know what the disciples' answer would have been. Maybe they didn't know, either. Maybe that's why Jesus was the one who answered; because there is no formula answer and just maybe Jesus comes to the rescue. Yeah, maybe He does.
"Those who are well have no need of a physician,but those who are sick," He answered the Pharisees.
"So, Jesus, what does Your answer have to do with their question?" I'm not connecting the dots.
Why does He talk about those who are well and those who are sick in answer to a question about why He eats with tax collectors and sinners?
I ask Him out here in the backyard where we walk, me with holes in my understanding, "Are You saying that tax collectors and, well, just everyday, backyard sinners the likes of me, are actually those who are the sick?" I know I need the Physician.
I bend down to rescue the sopping lion, and there's this grub, just thick and pale white with eyes and a mouth-and a hundred grubby feet paddling the air-stuck in a compost of cankered leaves. It twists this way and that, but gets nowhere. Can't get out of the mess it's in.
A few steps over there to the right, the mushroom I noticed the day before is full open and the gills on the underside tell me it's poisonous.
"Nice walking with You, Lord." With two fingers, a tad squeamish, I pick up lion by the tail. It dangles above grub and drips, and poisonous mushroom looks every bit just everything sick as sin.
But, I'm a faith hunter on a walk with the Lord and I sense I'm on the right track back here in the wild backyard.
I seat the lion on patio chair and take pictures of the mushroom and this ugly-as-sin grub. It just is that ugly.
I watch the poor sick thing writhe in place and, "Ha! I get it, Lord!" I snap a picture and mentally tag it, Live Example of How Sin Gets Me Nowhere.
Lion is washed.
I've cropped the pictures I took on my walk with Jesus today, and I don't miss the irony that I've got a carton full of small Portabella mushrooms in the fridge. I'm thinking about what to make for dinner, grateful for these beautiful Portabellas and, not to ruin appetites, but I do thank God for clean meat because, thing is, grubs are protein in places like Africa, India, and Haiti.
With thanksgiving, I roll dough. Singing to praise music, I slice the Portabellas. Gratefully, I place meat into the skillet.
Before dinner's done, I've asked the blessing on every ingredient.
Sometimes I have to trek through the real ugly to find the real lovely. Real faith is on the move like that.
Faith doesn't beat the air as a hundred grubby feet, but it goes and finds the Physician.
written by: Carolyn-Elizabeth Roehrig