And by His stripes, we are healed.

From birth to death, life is about transition and growth. But life is as finite as the eternity which awaits us as followers of Christ is infinite. Two years ago this April a grand change took place when I rose from the waters of baptism to a new world and a new life in Christ. In short order, He restored my heart, soul, family, and my faith.

The past year has been difficult for me. The Lord lead me away from the church where I found Him waiting for me with open arms. He also peeled away the fellowship and support structure I clung to so dearly to in those early days of my walk with Him as Covid happened and I watched helplessly as the doors of the churches began to close.

The message was clear… Cling to Him. Depend on Him. Focus on Him.

I didn’t obey like I should have. I have not been a good and faithful servant. I have continued to fight the sin in my life as best I could. I have begged for wisdom, guidance, hope. I have plead for my paths to be straight again. Even as He brought my father home for the last time, I thanked Him for the 41 years I was blessed to share with my dad.

I feel like saying that I am in a period of transition right now would be both an overstatement and an understatement in the same shallow breath… Looking back through the years, so much has changed. I have fallen, risen, feared, and grown. Now though, I see so many options before me wherever I turn, that my faith is challenged. I clear one crossroad only to find another.

It is that realization which brought me to my knees in prayer tonight. Loud, clear, vocal prayer. A one on one conversation with God that wasn’t merely my daily supplication and thanksgiving within the confines of my own mind, but for the first time in many months I was speaking out loud on my knees to the God who saved me, and has promised me salvation.

As I made my requests and gave thanks, my knees dug into the floorboards beneath me. I held my hands together and spoke to the very God of creation whose words brought forth life from Genesis through Revelation. I prayed for wisdom, I prayed for guidance, I prayed in thanksgiving, and I prayed for fellowship.

As I ended my prayer and slowly rose up from the floor, I looked at my knees and saw how stripes had formed on my kneecaps from pressing into the 100 year old gaps in the boards.

5 But He was wounded for our transgressions,
He was bruised for our iniquities;
The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,
And by His stripes we are healed.

Isaiah 53:5

It has been months since I have prayed like that. I do not feel that there is any coincidence that at this time, Passion Week, I have begun to turn back to the Lord my God and turn to Him fiercely. Just this past Sunday, Pastor Jack Hibbs discussed the origin of Palm Sunday, as Jesus returned to and wept for His city, Jerusalem.

Two years ago, at this time – God spoke loud and clear to me after I turned to him, as the pastor asked in reference to Matthew 21:12-13, to think about what tables needed to be overturned in my life and my path of restoration began.

12 Then Jesus went into the temple of God and drove out all those who bought and sold in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves. 13 And He said to them, It is written, My house shall be called a house of prayer, but you have made it a den of thieves.

Matthew 21:12-13

It is no coincidence that here I sit 2 years later and the same question is being asked of me. What tables do I need to overturn in my life? What has my life of prayer become? What fears have I allowed into the temple of Christ that is my body and soul? What sin have I tolerated instead of casting out? What junk have I allowed to accumulate in my life to fight my discontentment (hat tip, Pastor Jason Ham) in place of the stripes which healed me?

10 But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at last your care for me has flourished again; though you surely did care, but you lacked opportunity. 11 Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: 12 I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. 13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

Philippians 4:10-13

I lost focus, even within my faith, through my prayer and supplications, my focus slowly but surely turned from the Lord. Even as I benefitted from the blessings He has provided, I dug in deeper and focused on my discontentment instead of Him who has provided for me the salvation from that very pain, aggravation, fear, and pride.

Father God please guide me, grant me wisdom, help me to strengthen my focus on you and please surround me with good and faithful servants of your son Jesus Christ that will help to keep my path straight in Your will, as I help them to do the same. Please forgive my sins and restore me. In Jesus name, amen.

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