“Then He said to the woman, ‘Your faith has saved you. Go in peace.’” – Luke 7:50 (NKJV)
Hiding Under the Covers
If I’ve got the opportunity to sleep late, you can be sure that I’ll take it. Living with an “invisible” chronic illness means that I’m always looking for ways to get extra rest. Tough as it is dealing with a dysfunctional body, it’s tougher still when that dysfunction becomes a cloak for something else.
As I lay in bed this (late) morning, I thought that I’d simply stay there. The house was clean. I didn’t have to go in to work. My joints were aching and the covers were warm. I tried to tell myself that the reason I wanted to stay snuggled up was because I didn’t feel good. But that wasn’t true.
Losing the Battle
You see, I’ve been losing the battle the last couple of months. I’ve avoided this and other writing opportunities because I feel afraid. Afraid that I’m getting it wrong. Afraid that nobody really needs my perspective. Afraid that I’m just adding to the noise of the world when I write. Or when I talk to a friend. Afraid that I’m disappointing God.
It’s terrifying, to boil down the walk of faith to a list of rules. But I do it all the time. In my mind I see a double-sided scale; one plate carrying all the good I’ve done, the other all the bad. Rare are the days when the good manages to outweigh the bad, no matter how hard I try. There’s always something that I’ve failed to live up to.
My heart aches with that knowledge. I want to please God! He’s done everything for me! Why can’t I figure this out?
It’s about memory. All too easily, I forget what the foundation is.
The Gospel of Luke records the story of an unnamed woman. Her only identification is “sinner.” She approaches Jesus with great humility, washing His feet with tears and anointing them with costly oil. Her sense of thankfulness is palpable on the page, even thousands of years later. She understood the depth to which she had fallen and the height to which God had raised her – because He wanted to. Because she asked Him to forgive her and He was faithful.
It wasn’t about rule-keeping. It was about mercy.
Jesus could have scorned this woman. He could have pushed her away. Instead, He accepted her gratitude for what it was and blessed her. He announced that her sins were forgiven, that her faith had saved her and that she could go in peace.
This battle of mine against fear and rules has been a long one. I hold a jar of costly oil in my hands – but I’m afraid to pour it out in thanks. I’m afraid that I’ll be rejected. And in that is a lesson that I must learn again: “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). I don’t have to worry about that one day God will wake up and throw me out of His family. I don’t have to worry that His mercy and grace only go so far.
Like the sinful woman, Jesus says that my faith has saved me – my faith in Him. I can walk in peace.