Looking Past the Labels

There it was, on the counter, green gunk left over from dinnertime, dried on and stuck in grooves, dribbled sticky-ness on a napkin, hardened splatters on the counter. It was icky nasty-ness. I could have walked on by. After all, it wasn’t my mess. It was someone else’s spill, someone else’s gunk, and I was tired and I had a headache, and  it was almost time to help my youngest brown eyed boy settle in bed.

But… I couldn’t just let it sit there. Not all night. If I did not at least bring a little liquid to soften the hard edges, I might forget- and the mess would be harder to clean in the morning, once the kids were in school. So I stopped, and I poured on a little water, and began to wipe and scrub- just for a moment, to get the worst of the stains out. It put me in mind of a story… the story of a man with living water, who met a woman at a well.

She was world weary, passed from one man to the next, baggage from each torn relationship left in the crevices of her spirit and soul. Hardened edges built around a messy heart, walls erected to survive splatters left behind. One man, though, saw through the facade, through the gunk and the labels-and he saw a heart in need of living water. He saw her- not what she’d done, or what had been done to her. He saw a woman in need of healing. He was weary from traveling; dusty and thirsty and hungry- for he was fully human, having every physical need created in our kind. Yet he made a conscious effort to fill a need for nourishment that transcended body and touched a soul. Despite the social barriers, the liberating King looked beyond appearances and into a heart. He lingered, and lives were transformed.

There was another woman who was bleeding out, spotted and stained in body and spirit. Emaciated, humiliated, defined as unclean by her culture.  All her resources spent seeking healing, to no avail. Hiding,  but desperate enough to slip in from behind and touch the hem of a holy man’s robe. One touch… one touch at the edges of holiness and she was healed. Made well. Whole, pure, restored.

So, then, what of a life in the here and now that’s been used up by another? I am stunned, shocked at the degradation one human being can force upon another. Slavery alive and well even here, in this free nation.There are those who feel beyond all hope. Labeled unclean, stripped of purity, despised even by those who lay claim to hope in their hearts. What of the marginalized, the victims of violence that today are relegated to simply survive darkness?

Know this: healing power still flows out today.  No matter what you’ve done, or what’s been done to you; there is nothing beyond the touch of Grace.

There is no soul too scarred, no heart too broken, no person too far gone. The message today to those who think they are beyond saving is this: the ransom has already been paid. Rescue is at hand. Turn away from the voices that say your life is too dirty, too wretched. There are none beyond the reach of relentless grace.

It is true that Freedom isn’t free. Though freedom- yours and mine- has been bought at a precious price,we have to do more than long for it; we have to fight for it.  Fight against the lies and the condemnation, train our ears to hear the Voice of Love beckoning, enter his healing embrace, and submit our hearts to the setting free- remembering always that we are each flawed and still “in process”- but Praise Jesus, there is One sees and loves and accepts us how we are- even in the murkiest places. He will work healing even into the most forgotten of hearts.

So those of us who know the light, who’ve experienced the healing touch of Radiant Love, we are called not just to revel in our own healing, but to be continually filled to overflowing that we may pour out.  A life miraculously set free can stand in the gap for those who thirst and hunger for freedom in the inmost places. Let us not look in judgement on those who’ve yet to meet the Healer. Let us be light and salt and Hope, that lives may be rescued through our willingness to be humble and merciful, like the Lover of our souls.  

I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I am called to watch and seek what I can do to be a part of setting the prisoners free. To look beyond my own walls and go where God is even now working. He is patient and merciful, not willing that any should be lost.

It takes courage to not turn away from the gunk and the hardened places; it takes readiness to take a page from our Healer’s book, to let our schedules and plans be interrupted. It takes willingness to stop; to look and listen, to linger that those ravaged by darkness can catch a glimpse of this amazing, all consuming, miraculous light- if only we will let Him shine through.

~Just Me

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