Article # three: Inner Healing
F A R
Mannie can’t get over her past. Daddy wasn’t there much, Mom couldn’t be pleased, brother was a jerk, grade three teacher picked on her, a terror-bully in seventh, dumped by her boyfriend in college. Etcetera. Add a pocketful of regrets (should-haves, could-haves, would-haves) and we have a very sad and insecure Mannie.
You need inner healing, she was told. Need to take 12 steps (or was it 10 or 7?), she was told. Look inside…. understanding the cause of your pain is the key…. when you understand the problem you will understand your reactions…. can’t have a future till you fix your past…. before going forward you got to go backward.
After the laying on of hands, after many sessions with a degreed counselor, after stepping through all the steps, after many hours of self-analyzing, Mannie’s past still haunts her. A determined soul, Mannie. Keeps praying and soliciting prayers from friends and prayer ministries, rationalizes her fears and resentments, reads how-to books. Healing is always around the next bend.
The eyes once resting upon her First Love are now fixed on Mannie. No one told Mannie too much introspection was not a good thing. (Didn’t do much for Lucifer.) Not much in there to brag about. Seems the most erratic are the most introspectional.
When first born-again Mannie, like most, was a me person. Had she gone on in Christ she would have evolved into a Him person. But she had drifted far from Christ-the-Healer and sunk to a me, me, me person, almost entirely wrapped up in herself.
Me is now Mannie’s favorite subject. Religion and me are often good buds, and Mannie went deeper into both. She competes with others in an attempt to prove to them and herself she is good enough. Better than most, in fact. She became a clean freak around the house because good christians are clean and tidy. Never misses a sunday service; good christians never miss a sunday service. Smiles lots and is warm to others because a good christian smiles lots and is warm to others.
Life is a stage and Mannie-turned-christian-turned-actress plays the part well. Doesn’t much matter what she is but what she appears to be. A smile is a magnet, so lots of teeth. Image is everything. The human itch to impress gets itchier.
A. W. T o z e r : The desire to make a good impression has become one of the most powerful of all the factors determining human conduct. (God Tells the Man Who Cares)
Others get the nice Mannie, Merf gets the other Mannie. The complaining Mannie. The controlling Mannie. The sad Mannie. Poor Merf.
For all her self-examination, Mannie cannot see herself. What do the lost and the lukewarm have in common? Both stumble through life poking a white cane in front of them. Neither can see their need for Christ.
Will Mannie ever learn? – nothing works without Christ (a healthy relationship with Christ). And in Christ there is no failure.
N E A R
Merf was mad at himself for drifting from Christ. He went with the flow and flowed the wrong way. In every direction he could see many who had lost their passion for Jesus Christ. He studied ‘his’ pastor and, to his dismay, had to conclude that pastor and Jesus were relationally distant. Mannie never talked Christ, nor his friends.
He remembered the old days when close to Jesus. Man, those were good times! Didn’t have much knowledge about spiritual matters but he sure felt good. Merf determined to go back, to regain what he lost. But how?
P e t e r : Be clothed with humility, for “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” (1Peter 5:5)
Humility will get you every good thing. Merf could have played the victim: Sure I backslid, but can anyone blame me? Who did I have for an example? Not my wife, that’s for sure. Not even my pastor.
J E S U S : My grace is sufficient for you. (2Cor. 12:9)
Jesus spoke these words to Paul. Yes, the grace of Christ was sufficient for both Paul and Merf. Merf took ownership of his disloyalty to Christ. He had resisted the Holy Spirit’s gentle guidance and drifted from the very One who loves him most, who bore his sins on His body, who provided access into the kingdom of God. He sincerely repented.
And so Merf faced his crossroads determined to always choose Christ. These crossroads can be wrenching, a demand from Christ to depart from familiar and beloved attachments.
J E S U S : He who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. (Mat. 10:38)
Choices, choices, choices. Life is choices. Results are the results of choices made. Christ or money. Christ or business. Christ or Mannie. Christ or christians. Christ or religion. Christ or family. Christ’s approval or man’s approval. Christ’s protection or self-preservation. Christ-rule or Merf-rule. Christ or tv. Christ or ministry. Christ or many etceteras. Whenever Merf chose Christ idols toppled.
Thankfully crossroads come one at a time, not in bunches. One of the fruit of the Spirit is gentleness, and none has more fruit of “the Spirit of Christ” than Christ. Sometimes Merf lingered at crossroads longer than he should have. Sometimes he even went the wrong way for a while. Jesus was gentle, waiting, never trespassing Merf’s free will, never retracting His love.
It took years for Merf to make it back to where he was when first spiritually born into the family of God. Back then he had no words to describe the richness and excitement of intimacy with Christ and now is equally inept. Where does Merf go from here?
Merf made the happy discovery he could have even more of Christ. And when he got more there was more yet, always more. But more always comes with a price…..
A. W. T o z e r : Let the….. convert know that if he would grow instead of shrink he must spend his nights and his days in communion with the Triune God. (God Tells the Man Who Cares)
We are either growing or shrinking; nobody stays as is. We will grow if we eat and drink. We will eat if hungry, drink if thirsty. We will hunger and thirst if we ask the Lord to make us hungry and thirsty. Merf asked.
Merf isn’t particularly eloquent: “More, Lord!” “More of Christ, Father!” “More of Christ, Holy Spirit!” “More of You, oh my Jesus!” Over and over and over again.
Thirst came in waves. Merf would get concerned when his desperation slackened for a time, and then another wave would roll in and Merf found himself in a still deeper richness of life. Hey, this is good!
Inner healing? No prob. Healing comes when Christ comes. Takes time, but it comes.
One day Merf fully realized and fully acknowledged he had a sick soul. No biggie. Of course I’ve got a sick soul, I’ve been living without Christ most of my life; what else could I expect? Solution: (an ongoing faith in) Jesus Christ.
A. W. T o z e r : We are becoming what we love. (God Tells the Man Who Cares)
Behold and become (heard that someplace). What grabs our attention grabs us (ditto). See and be. Embracing Christ-the-Healer is good medicine. Those in tune get tuned. To be like Him we must be with Him. What fills our mind slides down to our heart; a good heart brings peace of mind.
Sanctification is a process. Merf still has a sick soul but much less so. Still talks too much, watches too much tv (watches too much unbelief), gets cranky spells, falls asleep when praying. But he is going in the right direction, toward, and not away from, Christ.
Going in the right direction, that’s what it’s all about. Not arriving, just going forward, traveling toward and not away from Jesus.
C h a l l e n g e : Learn Christ.
P r a y e r : Another article for You to anoint, Holy Spirit. May Your anointing be relative to its truth and relevance. (And hopefully the reader says, “Amen!”)