I didn’t expect to find this in Leviticus

I want to tell you about something I read recently that brought tears to my eyes. Surprisingly to me, it was in Leviticus 26.

Let me start by saying I’ve never read through the entire Bible. I’m pretty sure I’ve read every book by now at one time or another, but I’ve never read it straight through. But earlier this year I got a copy of The Bible Recap by Tara Leigh Cobble, which takes you through the Bible in chronological order. This has been really cool…partway through Genesis, we changed gears and I read the book of Job. Then came back to Genesis. Then in the middle of Exodus, I think it was, I read a Psalm that Moses had written during that period of time. It’s been so, so cool.

But I digress, although I could go on and on about how fruitful this has been for me.

Going back to Leviticus 26, it’s a chapter where God is laying out for the Israelites “Blessings for Obedience” and “Punishments for Disobedience”.

In the blessings portion, God is putting on the table everything you could hope for, pray for, strive for – and all he’s asking in return is obedience. He’s pretty much saying, My ways are perfect. I created you to live in a specific way – set apart for me. The world has rebelled against me and no longer follows me. I only ask that you do. That you choose to be different. In doing this, you will find life and find it abundantly.

In exchange for obedience, he offered bountiful provision, favor, peace, safety, and victory over your enemies. Read verses 1 – 13. It is truly amazing.

Again, surprisingly to me, it’s this next part that brought me to tears.

The next section, verses 14 – 46, goes over the punishment section. This is a list of warnings for those who rebel against God, those who openly reject him. Those who despise him. Those who refuse to live in his perfect ways. If you read this section, there are 6 levels of disobedience, each one worse than the last. But this is what got me…after each level, God offers the chance to return to him. If you rebelled and were punished, God offered the chance to return. If you continued to rebel, he still offered the chance to return…the level of rebellion and the level of punishment grow to astonishing heights, and yet still, he never gives up. He says, “But despite all this, I will not utterly reject or despise them while they are in exile…I will not cancel my covenant with them…” Will they pay for their sin and their rebellion? Yes. But do they have the chance to return? Yes.

This is what had me tearing up. It was proof, right in front of my eyes from God himself, that he does not give up. That his love never fails. That his mercies are new every morning. All those things that David sang about in his Psalms were playing out right before my eyes.

A weight lifted off my shoulders after reading this chapter, because I now have proof that it’s not too late for anyone. It’s not too late for me. It’s not too late for you. I try to live a life that honors God, but I know I fall short. I hate that I fall short. But falling short is something I’ll wrestle with until the day I pass from earth to heaven. I thank Jesus that he sent the Holy Spirit, who is now my guide and counselor. That even though I am not perfect, I have the Bible to guide me in being made more like Christ, and learning more every day who God is and what it looks like to live set apart for him.

If you’re feeling like you’re too far gone, stop. You’re not. Read Leviticus 26 and let it be a picture for you of all God wants to offer you, a warning for what a life of rebellion is like, and an assurance that he loves you with an everlasting, unfailing love that’s ready to accept you back at a moments notice.

Leviticus. Who knew?

Just Have Faith.

But Jesus overheard them and said to Jairus, “Don’t be afraid. Just have faith.”
Mark 5:36

I have been putting off writing about this for a while, because the truth is I just don’t understand it half as well as I’d like to. I don’t understand how Jesus could tell Jairus don’t be afraid. Especially given the news Jairus had just received.

Let me set the stage…

Jesus had just arrived in Capernaum after being on the other side of the Sea of Galilee, and a large crowed had already gathered around him by the time Jairus arrived. Jairus was the leader at a local synagogue whose daughter, only 12 years old, was at home dying. Having heard that Jesus was in the area, he found the crowd and fought his way through it to reach Jesus. He then fell at his feet, pleading with him to come and lay hands on her so she might live.

Can you imagine the relief Jairus must have felt when Jesus, the man who worked miracles, agreed to go with him to his home?

But on the way there, a woman interrupted the procession by reaching out to touch Jesus’s robe. This in itself is an amazing story, but for now I want to focus on the fact that Jarius was forced to wait while this other woman took precious time away from Jesus getting to his little girl. And as he was watching Jesus speak to this woman, the terrible news he feared arrived: his daughter had died.

This is where my faith is challenged. Because Jesus didn’t weep with Jairus. He didn’t console him. He simply said, “Don’t be afraid. Just have faith.” But the thing was…his daughter had died. She was gone. In that single moment, the fear of her death became a horrible reality.

This is where I struggle. Because I can’t help but put myself in the shoes of Jairus. What if I had gotten news that my husband died and Jesus told me, don’t be afraid. Just have faith? I feel like I’d want to slap him. My grief would be more than I could bear. How could I not be afraid? How could I possibly have faith? This is a hypothetical situation for me, but it wasn’t for Jairus. And it isn’t for many people I know. So the big question is, how can this be encouraging? How can this be what Jesus tells Jairus? How can it put to rest my own fears of the future?

I don’t know. But I do know that Jesus said it – and it was recorded for us for a reason. And I also know that Colossians 1:15 says that “[Jesus] Christ is the visible image of the invisible God.” If I believe that, and I do, I have to believe that even in the face of death and worst fears come true…we’re to trust Him.

Even though I don’t understand this and it feels like an impossible thing to ask of someone, the fact that Jesus said it means it warrants my time thinking about it and praying about it.

There is so much of God I do not understand. But I really do want to be a person who’s first instinct is to trust His word and act on it, find comfort in it, and discover His heart through it. I believe that good things lie on the other side of our obedience – especially when we obey without fully understanding.

My hope is that in the face of fear, both life threatening and none, my knee-jerk reaction will not be panic, but trust. I want my heart to be ruled by Him alone. I want his peace, which passes understanding. I want to be less like the people of the world, and more like the heroes of the bible – who took God seriously.

The bible doesn’t tell us how Jairus responded to what Jesus said. So I don’t know if he was full of faith or if he fell apart. But Jesus went to his house and healed that little girl – she lived again.

I know this isn’t the way all our stories end. How I wish it was. But I do wonder what is on the other side of our faith when we face these kind of horrifying situations. It encourages me to think about how much stock I put into what God asks of me.

This kind of soul searching and asking these kinds of questions is hard…but I think it’s well worth the undertaking.

Unchanging

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.”
Hebrews 13:8

I’d like to start this post by giving you a little behind-the-scenes look into my writing process. You see, back in August of last year, I was praying and asking God about writing weekly. I had some great foundation-building experience earlier in the year, and I was wondering how to apply that to this blog. The idea I got was to start out by doing seventeen weeks around the topic of trusting God. From there, I did a simple Google search: Verses on trust. What you’ve been reading up until this point, and what will continue until March 18th, are devotionals I’ve written as I’ve studied seventeen of those verses.

This weeks verse has been especially helpful in my own life, as the verse, just by itself, packs a punch. Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Just sit back and let that sink in.

To be honest, chapter 13 of Hebrews feels a bit over my head. Reading it makes sense, but summarizing it here for you feels like a mountain I am unable to climb. So I’d like to just say this for today,

As you pray, remember all God has done.

It makes me think about the Old Testament stories…the story Noah. Moses. Joshua. Daniel. David. God asked incredible things of these people. God worked in their lives in ways that defied logic, reason, and the very laws of nature. But those people trusted God and saw incredible things happen as a result.

That was Jesus at work.

Then in the New Testament I think about the inspiring miracles and lives of Matthew, Peter, Paul, and the other apostles.

Jesus was at work.

In recent history, I think about the testimonies of Martin Luther and Billy Graham.

Jesus again at work.

It just inspires me and grounds me into this reality: Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever. If Jesus did that way back then, why do I limit my belief?

My biggest takeaway from Hebrews 13:8 is that I need to remember who I’m praying to when I pray. Because lifting up payers on the fly is one thing…lifting up prayers while acknowledging it’s Jesus I’m talking to is a whole different faith experience.

So this is my encouragement: the next time you pray, pause to think about who it is you’re praying to. Who it is that’s listening to you. What he’s capable of. What he’s been through with the people of the past, and what he experienced himself as a human who lived on this earth for thirty-three whole years. It’s making a difference in the way I pray. And I bet it will for you too.

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