Pastoral Relief and Retreat

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Wethersfield, CT, United States
I am Pastor at Poquonock Community Church, Congregational (CCCC) in Windsor, CT. My wife Jama and I live in Wetherfield, CT. We'd like to invite you to Terre Haute -- High Ground -- That's what Jama and I call the retreat space on our property. We offer free intentional get-away retreats. We'll feed you and house you and give you space to be with the Lord. All are welcome; no questions asked. This blog is my daily devotional journal. I write it because it is so easy to go for weeks without ever taking the time to be alone with God. Writing helps me develop a discipline I need.

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Friday, January 30, 2009

January 27, 2009 Four Healings

READ: Matthew 9:18-34
18 While he was saying these things to them, behold, a ruler came in and knelt before him, saying, My daughter has just died, but come and lay your hand on her, and she will live.
19 And Jesus rose and followed him, with his disciples.
20 And behold, a woman who had suffered from a discharge of blood for twelve years came up behind him and touched the fringe of his garment,
21 for she said to herself, If I only touch his garment, I will be made well.
22 Jesus turned, and seeing her he said, Take heart, daughter; your faith has made you well. And instantly the woman was made well.
23 And when Jesus came to the ruler's house and saw the flute players and the crowd making a commotion,
24 he said, Go away, for the girl is not dead but sleeping. And they laughed at him.
25 But when the crowd had been put outside, he went in and took her by the hand, and the girl arose.
26 And the report of this went through all that district.

27 And as Jesus passed on from there, two blind men followed him, crying aloud, Have mercy on us, Son of David.
28 When he entered the house, the blind men came to him, and Jesus said to them, Do you believe that I am able to do this? They said to him, Yes, Lord.
29 Then he touched their eyes, saying, According to your faith be it done to you.
30 And their eyes were opened. And Jesus sternly warned them, See that no one knows about it.
31 But they went away and spread his fame through all that district.

32 As they were going away, behold, a demon-oppressed man who was mute was brought to him.
33 And when the demon had been cast out, the mute man spoke. And the crowds marveled, saying, Never was anything like this seen in Israel.
34 But the Pharisees said, He casts out demons by the prince of demons.

Many years ago I had taken the opportunity as a youth pastor to use a common interest to share Christ with a young man. He and I had a standing appointment to play racquetball at the local YMCA. Every Tuesday afternoon I would pick him up after school and we'd spend an hour and a half playing our hearts out. Sometimes we'd get to talking. And sometimes he would open up about what was hurting in his 14 year old life. On at least two occasions I can think of we ended up sitting on the floor of the court and our time slipped away as he cried. I wanted to offer healing, but I didn't know how.

A few years later, after he asked Jesus into his life, we were at a shopping mall on tour with our youth ministry. All the rest of the kids had gone off shopping, but I saw this young man sitting with a lonely, hurting man on a bench in the middle of the mall, talking. I felt this was an important conversation, so I steered clear. I came back later to find the young man, head in hands. I sat down and asked him what was going on. He said, "I couldn't help him." Again, he was crying. I wanted to offer healing, but again I didn't know how.

Some years later he called from where he was a staff counselor in a group home. He was overwhelmed by some of the situations he faced with the people in his care. Again we found ourselves in tears, this time on the phone. Once more I wanted to offer healing. Again, I didn't know how.

After that he went overseas as a missionary for several years. We stayed in touch via email mostly. As a teacher and guide he had been out in the hill country with one of the students in his care when she was bitten by a poisonous snake. It all happened so quickly, and the girl died in his arms. When he came back on furlough some weeks later he came to see me. We talked and cried as it seemed our habit was. I still wanted to offer healing, and still I didn't know how.

I knew when I started writing this entry that I needed to write these things down. As I began I didn't know why or what lesson I would be teaching. I just knew the four healings in Matthew 9 made me think of my friend. But just now it came to me: I didn't know how to offer healing because that wasn't my place in the story. We are no more the agents of healing than a rag used as a bandage is on a wound. The bandage merely holds back the bleeding for the moment. Medicine is needed that will address whatever is wrong. Jesus is the medicine. In each situation he applies himself to the wound, and often he finds an old rag of a person to wrap around where you're hurting. The rag is not even sterilized, and often has been used to clean a dirty gym floor, a bench in a mall, the halls of a treatment center, or the ground under a dying person. But for the moment it holds back the bleeding so the real medicine can go to work.

Jesus, thank you for using my friend to hold back my bleeding so you could offer me the healing I needed over and over again. Thanks for the tool he is in your powerful hands.

Jon

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