“When Jesus had finished saying these things, he left Galilee and went down to the region of Judea east of the Jordan River. Large crowds followed him there, and he healed their sick.” Matthew 19:1-2 NLT
Jesus just gave us that profound lesson on forgiveness (https://tinyurl.com/3a995ny6) then he leaves Galilee to go to the region of Judea east of the Jordan River.
This was gritty traveling. They were on foot and the journey took multiple days, while sleeping under the stars. There were no public restrooms, no fast-food restaurants, or B&B’s. Yet crowds followed Him and most* embraced and relished his teachings. While on the journey Jesus mercifully healed their sick.
“At sunset, the people brought to Jesus all who had various kinds of sickness, and laying his hands on each one, he healed them.” Luke 4:40 NIV
*Even though Jesus had followers on this journey there were men in the crowds who didn’t embrace his teachings. There were religious leaders and spies listening to His every word. However, their goal was not to gain understanding or healing, they were looking for ways to trick and trap Jesus to reduce His popularity and make Him look bad to the crowds.
In this blog we are going to ignore these troublemakers for now and focus on those who were following Jesus for answers and healing.
I am a follower of Jesus who is constantly looking for direction, seeking answers, and I want to trust Jesus with everything. (Shoot, I also want to freely mingle in crowds again without Covid worries! 🙄)
I want to hear all the blessings and teachings even when they cause me to squirm because I want to change for the better. I want His words and promises to permeate my soul while my faith and trust stay intact and strong especially in challenging times. I want to be fearless and follow Jesus wherever He takes me even when I can’t see where the road is leading me.
But I’ve been struggling, and I feel lost. What I want and what I am doing do not match up.
These past two years have challenged me physically, mentally, and spiritually. I have lost my ‘normal’ routines, I’ve had to deal with death, cancer invaded my husband’s body, and the added isolation, while necessary, has been brutal. There have been times where it feels like I am deep in the valley while Jesus is high and out of my reach.
However, what God says is He never leaves us, no matter what we “feel” is happening as we follow Him:
“Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord will personally go ahead of you. He will be with you; he will neither fail you nor abandon you.” Deuteronomy 31:8 NLT
He also says:
“Surely goodness and mercy and unfailing love shall follow me all the days of my life. Psalms 23:6a AMP (highlights made by me)
God knows I’m scattered right now so He hems me in, surrounding me in His love. No matter which direction I turn, I will land directly into His loving arms once I take a step.
He also knows my heart and despite my discombobulation, He knows that I love Him. Therefore, He has closed the gap by encircling me in His presence, in goodness, mercy, and love.
I. Love. That. I need that!
During these tough times God warns us:
“Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life. Look straight ahead, and fix your eyes on what lies before you. Mark out a straight path for your feet; stay on the safe path. Don’t get sidetracked; keep your feet from following evil.” Proverbs 4:23, 25-27 NLT
He also keeps the path lit with His words even in the darkness:
“Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path.” Psalms 119:105 NLT
God doesn’t say “stop it” or “be a big girl, Cecilia,” He says while I am walking through this valley, He is with me, but He also warns me to stay on my guard because:
“Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.” 1 Peter 5:8 NLT
On those days or moments when I am struggling through the muck and mire in this valley, Jesus isn’t the only one hanging around. Evil wants to keep me in the valley and fill my thoughts with doubts, fears, and highlight my weaknesses.
But God, reminds me to lift my head above the noise so I can hear Him, and to keep walking forward and follow Him. This is critical because my feelings are irrelevant and unreliable and can trick me into falling for the lies of the evil one. However, God has never been more relevant, present, or trustworthy, especially in my times of need!
“Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28 NLT
Come to me Jesus gently calls. He never forces Himself on us, but just like those who freely followed Him, who received healing from heavy burdens, they were finally able to rest. Now that’s a compelling promise, wouldn’t you say?
“Avail yourself of every spiritual strength and blessing. Heaven knows, we need the help. God is here to give it.” Max Lucado “Begin Again”
Prayer: Father God, oh how I love You! Thank you for the Bible that leads us through everything we face in life through your Word. I pray we all make the commitment to follow You, find Christian friends and mentors, and get ourselves in a Bible believing and teaching church to guide us on the journey. I pray this in the name of Jesus. Amen.