Years ago, in 2005, I faced one of the hardest struggles of my life. I thought I was doing so well—as a writer, as a mom, and as a wife. One November, I pondered my family, and my work, and I thought things couldn’t get any better. I even prayed Psalm 139:23-24:
Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.
God did some searching, and I didn’t like what He found! God showed me ways that I needed healing. He uncovered areas of my life that needed healing.
It started with an email from an old boyfriend, and my heartbeat jumped to my throat. I’d thought about Steven* from time to time but that moment all the 14-year-old emotions came rushing back. I felt like that young teen again who’d found her “first love.” And as I thought about him I became dissatisfied by my current life. (How horrible is that?!)
Even though I broke off all communication with Steven,* in the coming months I still struggled with my emotions. What I realized is that even though Jesus had given me a new life I was still wrapped up in the old graveclothes. My good friend, Joanna Weaver, gives us a good picture of those graveclothes in her book, Lazarus Awakening: Finding Your Place in the Heart of God:
I can’t imagine what it must have been like to see Lazarus shuffle out of the darkness of the tomb, wrapped in thin strips of linen according to the custom of the day. His arms and legs were probably wrapped individually, which allowed some movement. But to say the man was restricted would be an understatement.
The stench of death surely lingered around him. Depending on the original sickness, bloody patches may have marked the burial garment here and there, interspersed with yellow-crusted infection. Though a welcome sight to those who loved him, the resurrected Lazarus might also have been a bit frightening to behold.
I wonder what Mary and Martha thought when Jesus said, “Loose him, and let him go” (John 11:44, nkjv). As happy as I’d be to see my brother alive, I wouldn’t want to touch the strips of linen that had clung to his rotting flesh. After all, who knew what lay beneath the bandages? Just how resurrected was he?
Unwinding graveclothes. It’s a dirty job. But someone has to do it.
Someone has to do it. And that’s one of the factors of Lazarus’ story that shocks me most. For while Jesus Christ did what only He could do—bring a dead man back to life—He invited those who stood around watching to help with the process.
“Loose him, and let him go.” It’s the same command Christ gives the church today.
Don’t you love that? Jesus invited others to help Him with the process of healing! In my next blog I’m going to share hints for helping others who need healing, but first I want to speak to YOU. Do you have areas in your life where you need healing? Are you tired to the odor of death and stench that seem to cling to you? Do you wonder why the pain and the shame from the past still can cling to you, even though you’re a new creation in Christ? If so, keep reading. And be willing to ask others for help.
Joanna’s words are powerful to me because she was one of the friends who helped me remove my graveclothes. But in order for her to do that I had to be transparent and show her my mess. I had to confess Steven’s* email and the emotions that I thought were long gone. I knew that I couldn’t be strong in my own strength. I needed help. Here are three ways I invited Joanna—and other friends—in:
3 Ways To Invite Others Into Your Healing
- I asked for prayer. Are you struggling? Ask your friend(s) to pray. Find people who you can trust. Let them know your struggles, and count on their prayers to hold you up.
- I asked for Scripture passages. After I asked for prayers, I also asked my friends for their favorite Scripture passages. I spend time reading them, meditating on them and praying them myself. My friends pointed me to verses I’d forgotten. And, as I read, God’s word healed me.
- I listened to their advice. This was the hardest part, but I listened to the advice of my friends. They shared how they overcame their own struggles in their own lives. They spoke with love, but they didn’t sugarcoat the situation. Sometimes it was hard to be transparent with my struggles and to listen, but my godly friends steered me in the right direction. I’m so thankful for that.
What are you struggling with? Open up and let your friends know. Be transparent and invite others into your healing. That’s the way God has designed things. We need each other in so many ways.
Today, spend time praying about the parts of your life that you need to be healed from. And if you would like to help others find the same type of healing then read Thursday’s post: 10 Ways to Help Others Find Healing in Christ. Until then, check out Joanna’s new book and DVD series!
Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”