Life Changing Freedom
Good morning from Managua, Nicaragua!
Over the past week, Jen and I have had some heartbreaking discussions about some of the young people in El Canyon. Specifically, we have heard about how events that happened in their past are affecting their present, their future, and their view of God. In most cases the ongoing pain they live with was not created by their own decision but by the bad decisions of someone else. As hard as it is to hear about their pasts, it is even harder to hear about how it is impacting their current lives. In fact, I think the hardest thing about it is the shame and distrust these old wounds created that makes them suspicious of anyone who could possibly help them heal, including God. The truth is we all walk around with wounds from our past. Although some our worse than others, they all can affect the way we see ourselves, the world, and God. Typically, the longer we hold onto these things, the more they hurt us. The problem is we are afraid of the potential consequences of doing what is necessary to let them go. It is a vicious cycle, but I do not think it has to be the end of the story.
I do not pretend to have all the answers to anything much less dealing with the pain associated with a broken past, but God has taught be a few things through my own experiences. In Mark’s account of Jesus’ life, he writes about a dinner party Jesus attended that became very controversial due to the other people in attendance. Mark tells us that one day Jesus was walking along and asked a man named Levi, later given the name Matthew, to follow him. While this seems like a relatively innocent request, the “teachers of the law” as they are referred to in the Bible, gave Jesus a hard time because of Levi’s profession- a tax collector. If this was not bad enough in their eyes, Jesus then attended a dinner at Levi’s house that was full of people who, in that time, were referred to as “sinners”. Completely baffled, the teachers of the law asked Jesus’ disciples why in the world a person who calls himself a man of God would be eating with unclean people. In Jesus’ answer we find hope for all of us less than perfect, brokenhearted, burdened people. “On hearing this, Jesus said to them, ‘It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.'” (Mark 2:17, NIV 1984) Jesus came for the sick, and for that I am very glad.
When we are physically sick and need healing, we almost always need someone else or something else to help us get well. The same is true when it comes to healing the emotional and spiritual damage caused by our past. The incredible truth is that Jesus came to that very thing. God has a desire to heal our pains, but we have to be willing to allow him to do so through the redemptive work of Jesus Christ. This means being willing to accept that we need Jesus and being willing to surrender our past and the wound that it caused to God. It also might mean being willing to talk to someone else that God has put in your life to help the healing process. This is certainly easier said than done, but is necessary if we hope to find true freedom. God is in the healing business. Jesus came for people who are broken, whether by their own decisions or the decisions of someone else. His desire is to help make us whole, but we have to be willing to admit that we need healing and open to His healing process.
It is my hope that the young people in El Canyon find this truth. In my experience it produces life-changing freedom. Do you have a wound that needs healing? Maybe it is time to stop holding onto the pain and allow the Healer to make you whole again.
– James Belt