Friday, September 13, 2013

"This Kind" - Part Two

"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
But without faith it is impossible to please Him
for he that cometh to God must believe that He is, 
and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him."
Hebrews 11:1,6

Yesterday, we walked the streets of Helen, Georgia,
one of our favorite places in the world to visit.
We were blessed to stop and visit with Eddie and Shawnna,
who run The Meeting Place restaurant.
You can read about them here.
I hope if you are ever in Helen, you will stop and patronize this
proudly American, Christian-owned restaurant.
I promise you won't be disappointed.
The food is really good;
the warmth and kindness and Christian love on display is even better.

After we left The Meeting Place,
we walked downtown.
Zach was a few steps ahead of us, and suddenly,
he turned around with a troubled look in his eyes.

"Oh, Mama!"
He was near tears.

"What is it, Zach?"

He made no reply, just directed my gaze to a young man
sitting on the ground with a bucket on the sidewalk in front of him.
My eyes fell on the "donations" sign attached to the bucket,
before I had a chance to take a good look at the man.

Then I saw the reason for his begging.
He had no feet.
I don't know his story.
I only saw his condition....
the sad lines on his face....
the humiliation....
the pain.

I feel sure the locals could fill me in....
perhaps shed some light, share some details.
They may even have stories about how he has used
his affliction and handicap for financial gain?
Who knows what all they could tell me.

Does any of it really matter?
At this point?
The man is lame.
He cannot walk you and I.

As we walked away from him,
there were two things burning a hole in my mind.
The first was the old Hank Williams song,
"Thy Burdens Are Greater Than Mine."

I hope you take time to listen to the words.

If the video doesn't show up, please click here to listen.

The second thing on my mind was how I wished I had "this kind".
Remember "this kind"?
The kind of faith that dares to speak God's power into existence?
(Please readThis Kind - Part One for the first blog in this series.)

My eyes met Zach's.
Tears had formed and were threatening to spill down his kind face.
He is so tender-hearted and compassionate towards those who are hurting.

"Zach, do you know what Peter and John would do if they were here?"

"Yeah, Mama, I sure do."

My mind went straight to the day they were walking into the temple
and saw the man who was lame in his feet sitting by the temple gate begging.
I could picture it all.
The man's donation cup.
The sad, hollow, tormented look in his eyes.
The embarrassment.
The shame.
The hopelessness.
The assumption that today would be just like all the rest.
Someone would park his disfigured, crippled body by the gate,
leave him there to beg all day,
and come collect him at the end of the day,
along with whatever donations pitying souls had dropped into his cup.

I can just sense the hope that rose in his jaded heart as he spotted
two men walking together coming his way.

"Can you spare some change?
Can you help me all?"

I see Peter...and John.
They are different now.
Unlike the day they couldn't deliver needed help to another tormented man.
You know....
the day they privately asked Jesus, "Why couldn't we do what needed to be done?"
and Jesus telling them that "this kind"
only comes about through prayer and fasting.

Right before Jesus ascended, He had given them instructions to
tarry in Jerusalem until they were endued with power from on high.

They had followed His the tee.
They tarried in Jerusalem in the upper room until the day of Pentecost
when the power fell from on high and filled them to overflowing.
They walked out of that place transformed.
Filled with "this kind" of audacious faith.
They had prayed in one accord.
In total unity and communion with one another.
The Bible doesn't specifically say they were fasting in that upper room.
But, somehow I have always had a strong hunch that they were.
Because I believe they wanted it just that bad.
I believe they realized their own weakness,
and they were bound and determined to get what they needed....
at whatever cost necessary..
The power came as they made the necessary sacrifice.

The Peter who stood gazing down upon the lame man by the temple gate called "Beautiful"
was a different Peter than he had been on Crucifixion night.
Remember his fear?
His denial of Jesus?
His remorse afterwards?

What had happened in between the two events?

"And Peter, fastening his eyes upon him with John, said, Look on us.
And he gave heed unto them, expecting to receive something of them.
Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: 

In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk."
Acts 3:4-6

Peter and John had found it!
This kind!
The kind for which they sought and longed.
The kind they carry on His work.
The kind He willed for them to have.
This kind.
The kind that cowers never.
No matter how severe the affliction.
No matter how deteriorated the body.
No matter how crippled...or missing...the feet.
The kind that commands.
Calls upon the power of Almighty God...regardless of the circumstances that are seen.

As soon as the words rolled off Peter's tongue, the work was done.

There was no long-winded prayer.
No pleading.
Just a spoken command from a 100%-confident-in-the-power-of-God tongue.

Immediately, the man rose to his feet.
Not limping.
Not half-healed.
Not staggering.
Not stumbling.
"And he (Peter) took him by the right hand, and lifted him up:
and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength.
And he leaping up stood, and walked, and entered with them into the temple,
walking, and leaping, and praising God."

Praising God...from Whom the blessing had flowed.

I looked at Zach. 
He looked at me.
We read each other's thoughts from the sadness in each others' eyes.

"Mama, we can't do that today...
all because we are afraid of how it would make us look
if it didn't happen."

We walked along as I let Zach's words sink in deep.
Profound wisdom spewed forth from the mouth of a babe.
A child.
A child of God.

"Wow, Zach.
You are absolutely right."

He hit the nail on the head.
Dead center.

We are a proud people.
Solely-centered on how things will or will not make us look.
Focused on the possibility of appearing foolish.
Focused on self and our own abilities and incapabilities.
We haven't fasted and prayed to the point of 
self being subdued
and God's Spirit being self's place.

Peter and John...along with 118 others prayed continually together
in one accord, in full agreement, laying aside every difference 
and every selfish thing...
for the sake of a greater good...
a nobler cause....
a higher calling.

They got it.
They received the power Jesus promised 
after they were endued from on high.

I still see the sadness in that young man's face.
The stubs that should have been feet.
The sign that read "donations please".
His hopeless, pitiful plight.

We walked away.
Left him there...
the same way we found him.

Shame.  On.  Me.

I confess that I felt the Spirit's prompting.
To walk over to him.
To speak the words.
To command healing.

Am I crazy?
Some would say so.

Do I believe God could have instantaneously created two feet?
Right then and there?
In front of our very eyes?
In 2013?

No question.
Not even the slightest, most obscure doubt.
I have no His ability.
In His power.
In His complete authority.
In the One Who said, "these signs shall follow them that believe."
In the One Who promised not only the disciples....but us...."this kind".

I know there are scoffers who say the days of miracles are past..
There are many who believe we are past the time of Divine physical healing.
And while I would be completely naive and narrow-minded to believe God does not
use humanity in many instances to assist in the process of healing,.
I still believe God can heal anyone, any disease, any time, completely unassisted, and totally on His Own.
Just like Jesus did when He walked the earth.
Just like He did throughout the time of Peter and the other disciples.
Just like He did when the Apostle Paul spotted the lame man in the crowd 
and told him he perceived that he had the faith to be healed,
and the man was healed instantaneously and walked away completely whole.

I know God still heals.
I have seen things with my own eyes that have proven this is real.
I have seen God answer prayer...move mountains....and extend life.
I have seen things lately that I have never seen before.
The more I explore faith, the more I am seeing reality...
along with direct and unquestionable answers to prayer.

Jesus paid an enormous price to make healing possible...
to will it to us.
That sacrifice was for all time....including present-day.
It was not made for a select, choice, elite few.
It was for all mankind...without exception.
He suffered horrendous, flesh-tearing, muscle-searing stripes across His back,
chest, neck, face, arms, and legs,
inflicted by the cruel hands of merciless, ruthless, burly Roman soldiers,
for one, sole purpose.
Your healing....and mine.
Healing of our physical bodies,
our minds, our emotions, our brokenness.
It is included in the Atonement He made on that awful, torture-infused, blood-saturated day.

God is still on the throne, my friend.
Jesus' blood has never, nor will it ever lose its power.

As I ponder the young man we saw, I reach the conclusion that when we saw him,
there was no shortage on compassion, for we were deeply moved.
There was absolutely no shortage on God's power, for He is still the same.
That's for certain.

"Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever."
Hebrews 13:8

Doesn't "forever" include right now?

It wasn't a lack of compassion...there was plenty of that to go around.
It was no fault of God's, and certainly no insufficiency of sacrifice on Jesus' part.

It was me.
All me.
That's the problem.
Too much focus on Cheryl.
Not enough focus on the One Who can do all things.

What would happen if we dared to take God at His Word?
If we had the audacity to step forward in faith,
with no thought of ourselves, or who would laugh,
sneer, make light of, or persecute....
and just command healing into existence?

I am convinced now that this is what Jesus meant when He said "this kind".

Jesus did not go into a long session of prayer when He healed the demon-possessed boy.
He spoke to the root problem.
He commanded that the problem be removed.
He had no doubt it would be done.
The devil surrendered.
He had no choice.

The lesson is clear.
Clearer to me than I have ever seen or comprehended it before.

"This kind" is reaching a level that commands the things we hope for to become substance.
It is a calling into existence evidence that is not seen.

"Death and life are in the power of the tongue..."
Proverbs 18:21

I am not giving up on this.
It is far too important.
Too many are suffering.
Too many need to see "signs that follow", 
so they might come to believe.
Think about it.
How did so many come to be added to the church in the early ages?
Was it not because they saw outward, physical proof of the power of Almighty God?
Was it not because they saw "this kind" demonstrated?

I have not fully apprehended this truth, but I am getting closer.

I hope you are, too.

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