Don’t Trip

May 21, 2013

Based on a sermon by Pastor Gail E. Dudley~May 19, 2013

Luke 8:49-55 (NIV)

As I review my notes and prepare this summery of the powerful word delivered by Pastor Gail Dudley on May 19th at the Church at North Point, I am opening myself up to God’s will and allowing the very words I type to minister to me. The title of Pastor Gail’s sermons always make me chuckle as I take notes in service –her honesty and ability to say exactly the words a person needs to hear in exactly the language we need to hear it in is nothing short of an anointing. How many times have we said the words “don’t trip” to someone in a situation that we ourselves agreed gave cause for tripping? Those words are used to calm a person down and remind them that whatever it is they are tripping over is probably not that big of a deal in the grand scheme of things. The promise that we as Christians have to stand on is a reassuring fact that nothing of this world is a big enough deal to trip over because we are held up firmly by the arm of the Lord.  We have a God that sees and a Savior that lives and so nothing that ever happens is reason enough for us to trip –not even death! In the selected reading a man comes to Jesus to ask him to heal his daughter who is dying. I am not a parent, but I can imagine that a dying child is a circumstance that could frustrate and frazzle even the most firm believer. It is a tough concept to get a grip on, but even in our most desolate and seemingly hopeless circumstances, God is always at work for our greater good, giving us cause to bring glory to His name. The hang up us as mere mortals face is that we often do not allow ourselves to get past the temporary setbacks so that we may receive God’s glory.

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In Luke 8:41 we are told that Jairus came to Jesus and fell at his feet beginning him to come to his home and heal his daughter. Jesus went with Jairus and on the way was touched by the woman who had been bleeding for 12 years and stopped to address her and the power that had been taken from him verse 45). What was Jairus thinking? How did he feel watching Jesus work out someone else’s ailment while his daughter was still at home barely holding on to her life? I imagine he felt the same way we feel when we see a coworker get the promotion we applied for, or a friend get their dream job while we slave away daily at our 9 to 5, or when a relative finds the love of their life and gets married after dating for 8 months while we’ve been trying to work out our busted relationship for years. He probably felt frustrated and ignored; he probably felt like God found something more important to do and that his little prayer would just have to wait. But what I found beautiful about this particular story, the message that spoke to my heart, was the unlike us, Jairus waited. He didn’t decide to go ahead without Jesus and let him catch up and he didn’t walk away frustrated without hope. He didn’t make plans to bury his daughter and he didn’t start complaining to the people around him. He waited. Even when someone came and told him that his daughter had died and he can stop bothering Jesus, he waited on the Lord. He didn’t trip.

When we feel ourselves growing anxious, when people around us are telling us that we have every reason to give up and give in, when we feel like we want to fall from frustration, we have to remember who our Savior is and stay calm. In verse 49 someone came and whispered to Jairus that his daughter was dead. I find it interesting that this person delivered such important news in a whisper. How often do we allow people to whisper death in our ears? And Jesus responds to us the same way he responded to Jairus when a hater was whispering negativity in his ear, “Don’t be afraid; just believe, and she will be healed.” Don’t be afraid –fear is the most betraying emotion because we have been taught that fear of the unknown keeps us safe. But what we have to keep on our minds and in our hearts is that what we do not know our God does and as long as He is aware of what lies ahead, we are protected. Just believe –Fear also helps to conjure up a spirit of disbelief. When we become afraid we start to tell ourselves that what God has already told us was for us isn’t. We doubt the reality of His active involvement in our lives and we shrink back from what He has promised us, being now convinced that we made it all up to begin with. At times God will put us in a situation where His Word is all we have; I believe He does this to remind us that His Word is all we need. Will be healed –when we reject fear and practice belief and faith, whatever we brought to the Throne of God will work out for our good. That was His plan from the very beginning (see Genesis 1:31). Is it your marriage, your business, your family, your self image, your aging parents, your busted car, your job? Stay calm; don’t be afraid; just believe and it will be healed.

Once Jesus arrived to the home of Jairus he went in to see his daughter and allowed only Peter, James and John, and the girl’s parents to come in with him. Everybody can’t go in with you either. In this age of social networking, reality television and technology that allows us to have a face to face conversation with someone from across the globe, we forget what privacy is. We tell our business to any and everyone who will listen, constantly seeking approval from people who don’t matter at all. And what do they do in return? They bring negativity and doubt. The people came to mourn the death of the girl, but when Jesus told them she wasn’t dead they ridiculed him…that sounds backward to me, but so familiar. We share our story, our dreams, our goals, our present situation even and people pretend to be so emotionally connected and concerned, but as soon as things seem to be working in our favor, they ridicule us and mock us. We invite their negativity when we seek their approval and opinion. Not everyone is built to be a part of what God has for you. He will identify certain people in your life who can be your support and uplift you when you need it, but we have to stay connected with God so that we hear those names correctly. We don’t have to show and tell everything that God reveals to us and we can’t let just anyone in.

From outside, the people laughed at Jesus and ridiculed him for believing that the girl was just asleep. What I love about Jesus in this passage is that he didn’t use this as an opportunity to show off or provoke the people before his big reveal. He went on about his Father’s business, took the girl by the hand and said, “My child, get up!” then gave the girl some food. He didn’t let the negativity of the crowd bring him down. When things look dead in our lives, when people are shouting out negativity and speaking death over our purpose, Jesus is taking us by the hand and telling us to GET UP! We have to be prepared to take our stand when this happens. Things will happen in life, setbacks will occur and even when things seem to be moving along perfectly there will be someone there to speak doubt into us, but we must get up. Pastor Gail recited a line from one of my favorite tear jerking films, Stepmom. The character played by actress Julia Roberts says to a small girl whose mother is dying of cancer, “you can sit here in the cold and cry, or you can do something.”

Pitying ourselves has never changed a situation. Complaining about our circumstance has never made it better. Shrinking in fear and being paralyzed by life has never given life to anything. God gives us strength in the midst of a storm. He has already completed our mission for us –it is done! All we have to do is stay calm, remember that everybody can’t go in with us, and be prepared to take our stand; the rest has already been fulfilled. “Don’t be afraid. Just believe, and [insert need here] will be healed.”

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