The lepers sought Him out, this Christ King of mine, and begged to be healed, to be redeemed, to be restored, and we’ve heard the miracle stories, so heal us, too! With the stories of blind men seeing instantly and cripples picking up their mats, why would they expect any different? Let them close their eyes on rotting deformities, hear a prayer, and open their eyes to skin clear and tan, but my Lord works in mysterious ways, and perhaps He knew that four men would write the story down for me to read later, because He chose a different route this time. Heal us, Lord, they cried. And go, He said. Go. Go away from me. Go show yourself to those you dismissed and despised you, and wouldn’t I have walked away defeated? Defiant? And as they walked, their bodies were washed clean. And the one who came back? His heart was as well. But they had to go.
I’ve been a leper.
I’ve sought Him out, this Christ King of mine, and begged to be healed, to be redeemed, to be restored. I’ve read the miracle stories. I’ve seen the miracle stories. Of legs being lengthened, of jumbled letters made straight, of spines straightening and dead bodies walking, of light being found in the eyes of those with cuts across wrists. The woman touched his hemline and was healed. If I could just get close enough to touch… and so I seek Him out, and throw my aches before Him. Heal me, Lord, I’ve cried, and do cry. And He is silent. He tells me to go. My aches, they still ache, they are not gone, and I don’t understand.
I don’t understand that the go is not go away but go and walk in the faith that I’ve heard you, I see you, and I will lead you from this place. I don’t understand that His ways are higher and wiser. I don’t understand why He let me stay in that ugly and abusive place, to sin and be sinned against in ugly red ways, instead of lifting me out after months rather than years. I don’t understand why He didn’t meet my husband in a big way and heal his bitter and angry and hurting heart, and in the same moment heal a marriage carrying too much weight after only a few months of being one person. I don’t understand why He didn’t provide a way out or a way up when every school day ended with tears and wine, and every morning felt like a trap, or a pit, pick your metaphor.
Leprosy, this disease of continuing and increasing numbness and ugliness, creeping for years and a day. My skin is clear and my fingers can touch, but numbness is no stranger to my heart. The ten had their physical leprosy wiped from their skin, but only one had the leprosy sloughed from his soul. And when you ask and beg and plead for God to hear you, not realizing that He has, it’s hard to keep hope. It’s hard to keep your heart soft, to keep it tender and feeling, because the feeling is painful and there’s two options – build a wall or go numb. Pick one. Pick both, because God’s far away and you’ve got to find a way to do this on your own.
I’ve been a leper.
I am a leper.
My heart is riddled with sores and rough spots from the times when God told me to go and to trust Him as I walk, and instead I sat my sorry self right down and threw a fit. I don’t understand! I don’t understand! But His ways are higher and wiser and good, and when I stop looking to my own strength or reasoning and look to the Christ that I nailed through with my sins, He takes me by hand and we walk. We walk through the pain, and the pride, and the aches, and it hurts and there are tears, but the sun is up ahead as He leads me over this mountain and into green pastures and still waters. And the numbness of my heart, the walls that I had built (because I had picked both), they are gone. They fade. My King restores, redeems, binds up the cracks and broken pieces of a life.
I don’t understand the thoughts of God in the here and the now, but I do understand now that He heals us in the way that causes us to grow the most. I am the woman that I am because of the scars I’ve been redeemed from. I am the wife that I am because of the burdens that he, He, and I have shouldered together. I am the teacher that I am because of the scales ripped from my eyes and replaced with hopefulness.
And I know I’ll wander away from the green pastures and find myself at another mountain, but I’d like to think that I’m already standing at the foot of one, that I’ve already asked God to redeem and restore, that He’s already told me to go and walk in the faith that He’ll lead me, and that I’m on my way up and over, without fighting and screaming and building walls, but with hope and peace. More dead skin and numbness will flake and fall away, and when I see the green pastures and still waters again, it will be with new eyes and new strength.
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