Before me stood a petite Honduran man. As he limped towards me, I could barely hear what he was saying because my focus was on his legs. One leg was extremely larger than the other. I soon found out that he had injured his knee the day before while hiking up a mountain.
A friend and I offered to pray for God to heal him, but nothing happened.
So we prayed again. The pain lessened, but he still limped.
So we prayed again. The pain lessened, but he was still limping.
So we prayed again. This went on until we had prayed almost 10 times.
Jesus prayed for the blind man several times before he was healed so we were following His example which proved to be working. By this time, he had very little pain and was walking comfortably around the room. I asked him, “Do you want to keep praying?” He said, “Yes. There’s still a little pain and I can’t bend my knee all the way back.” So, we kept praying until almost all pain was gone and he could bend his knee.
The next day I saw him with a bandage wrapped around his knee.
Walking through the dirty, long halls, my face had to remain calm as I held back the expression of shock for what my eyes beheld. “Certainly this is not a hospital!,” I thought to myself. The floors and hallways bore the soiled smell and filthy dirt of neglect for what looked like years past. We soon breached the doorway of a much larger scale of astonishment. A large warehouse room filled with over 500 twin size metal beds. All of which was chipping from the paint that was once used to cover its mature age. Old brown plastic coverings with a thin mattress laid beneath the women and newborn babies. No sheet, no pillow, no bassinet for the baby. There had to be one other family member there with you to ensure that the woman next to you didn’t roll over onto your new bundle of joy.
I was so thankful it was raining and the weather was cooler than usual. There was no source of air conditioning in this building except the small fan located at the center of a few large windows around the room.
I soon realized that the bed frame and mattress were the only thing provided at this hospital. Family members had to leave the hospital to bring pillows, sheets, and food. If the patient was in need of medication, or even blood, the family member had to leave and purchase these items from another place and bring them to the hospital, including the needles and instruments needed to perform the care.
I am getting older, but I’m way too young to be having a forgetful moment like this one. I was sitting at a stop sign trying to remember where I was located? What’s my name? Where am I going? Which way was I suppose to turn?
We’ve all been there, haven’t we? Our lives get overwhelmed, stressed, busy, and in a moment we zone out.
I had only driven this route a hand full of times and was confident as I traveled back into the city that I could remember the directions without the help of my GPS. Not recognizing anything around me, I asked Siri to give me directions back to the office. Sure enough, 20 minutes later, after enjoying the new sites I didn’t recall from my drive in, I realized I took the wrong turn, but still ended up at the right location.
This is not too dissimilar to my life. I’ve decided to follow the way I think I should go, only to end up taking the long route to the same destination God had planned for me. If only I had consulted with Him before leaving instead of trying to find my own way, it may not have taken me as long to get there. He certainly knows the way better than Siri.
As a child, I was taught that when I give my heart to Jesus, He will come and live inside of me. First of all, that’s kinda weird. I don’t want someone living inside me. My mom said that my brother was living inside of her, so does that mean Jesus is going to be a baby inside me? Does that also mean He will come out in 9 months? Wait….that’s what happened to Mary in the story they tell me at Christmas time.
To clarify, He is not going to live in my belly. He’s going to live in my heart. I was also taught that in order for Him to stay in my heart, there was a list of rules I had to follow. If you chose not to follow the rules, then “you were not a Christian anymore.”
I couldn’t go to the movies,
I couldn’t drink wine (Jesus turned water into wine, why can’t I drink it?),
I could only listen to Christian music,
I had to be at church every time the doors were open, which meant I had to go to church even when I was sick and vacations with my family were out of the question,
I had to read three chapters of the Bible every day,
I had to pray every day for one hour,
I had to go to the altar every church service to ask for forgiveness for my sins,
I could only wear certain types of clothes,
Every person I met, I had to tell them about Jesus,
and the list goes on and on.
I’m sure you could add several more rules yourself.
If I didn’t follow every rule, all the time, then I couldn’t be a Christian or go to heaven. I think we can agree that reading your bible, attending church, and other actions listed above are all good things to do. However, it was the unrealistic expectations of how these actions were lived out that made them rules to follow, instead of opportunities to live out a life of worship.
All these rules had me so bound up that after 20 years (I can’t believe I lasted that long), I was ready to walk away from God not towards Him. I was told that if I stopped attending church, I would be walking away from God and I didn’t want to do that. I had seen so many people walk away for the same reason. Just like those people, I love God and wanted to know Him more, but didn’t want to live under the constant pressure and unrealistic expectations anymore.
Then one day, God showed me the difference between religion and relationship.