|If I regard iniquity in my heart,|
the Lord will not hear me. (Ps. 66:18)
Ah, hah! Never heard of it? Me either, until a couple of weeks ago. I joined about 300 women at my church for the Priscilla Shirer 2017 Simulcast! If you're a student of the Word and love good women bible studies, the name is very familiar! If not, then you might recall Priscilla as the prayer-less wife in the movie, War Room.
Simulcasts have been going on for many years in Christian circles. But this was my very first one. I generally like to be in the same room with a dynamic teacher or preacher (even if it's 40 rows back in an auditorium with thousands). But I've got to tell you this turned out to be a great experience! The Word of God, like the God we serve is truly omnipresent! His Spirit was so powerful that it didn't matter that Priscilla was hundreds of miles away in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Taking her text from 2 Kings 5:1-14, Naaman's Leprosy Cured, she unpacked the text with deft skill and precision telling us what it means to be a spiritual leper and how a little Israelite girl's faith was the key to the cure! Here's how Priscilla's described the condition she calls Functional Leprosy. It is hiding our sins, fears, and insecurities under a guise of spiritual health and wholeness. To the outsider, we function well. We attend church, serve and even lead ministries. We go through all the acceptable motions of emotionally healthy spirituality but inside we're dying from this dreaded disease.
Just like, the physiological symptoms of the leprosy disease, we become numb to the pain that is often afflicted upon the assumed spiritually weak. The parallels between the two diseases don't stop there however. Fearing the isolation, shame and loathing that so often comes with the disease (and the sin that is at its root), we keep the mask of functional leprosy glued on tightly. Even when we are finally able to admit to ourselves that we are suffering, our pride attempts keep us from the cure!
Such was the case of Naaman, a well respected, commander in the Syrian army who at the behest of a servant girl went to Israel seeking healing. When he didn't get the reception he thought he deserved, rebuffed by the king and later refused a private audience with the prophet Elisha, he got angry and said forget it! The cure in his opinion, did not befit a man of his stature. But like the servant girl, his underlings, had his best interest at heart. They persuaded him to be obedient and thus as the prophet said, dipped himself in the muddy Jordan river and found himself cleansed from the disease.
Two powerful lessons resonated with me from this study. Both of them required the dipping of my own sin in the blood of Jesus as I John 1:9 before I got it. Both to this day fills me with hope:
First, none of us are immune to Functional Leprosy! It's sad to admit but often church is NOT the best place to show your weakness and vulnerabilities! This is not to discourage Christian fellowship, theres really nothing like it! But somewhere in our sanctified minds we still believe church is only for Super Saints! Those who have it all together! God's word says something totally different. In 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 Paul tells us that God's grace is sufficient for every weakness and it is in this weakness that God's power is perfected. Also, Romans 8:1 assures us, that there is no condemnation in those who are in Christ Jesus! So go ahead... Go to church as you are...just remember you don't have to leave the same way you came!
Second, I so identified with the servants in the story of Naaman. In my early Christian life, I felt that I was out of sync with my destiny. I wasn't where I needed to be to get the most out of my life I thought! Not in my personal ambitions and certainly not in my marriage! But God's Word showed me something completely different. I Corinthians 1:27 says that God will often choose the foolish things in the world to shame the wise and the strong. Psalms 37:4 taught me to Delight myself in the Lord where I was and He'll give me the desires of my heart; and I Timothy 6:6 says contentment with godliness is great gain.
I love the way Priscilla Shirer put it in the Simulcast: Like the servant girl, I thought I was displaced but I was actually being divinely used! I thought I was being cheated but found I was chosen! Maybe the same can be said of you!
UNTIL NEXT TIME...
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