During my childhood, Dad followed two of Jesus’ professions. Dad served others by preaching the gospel and by working as a carpenter. Very quickly my brothers and I learned to hold hammers, climb ladders, pour concrete and deliver sermons. I think I have the sequence right. My first hammer hold did not go too well. I used the hammer to break out those cool little glass windows in a borrowed carpenter’s level. For some reason Dad remembers that accomplishment to this day!
I enjoyed most parts of construction. Who would not like using power tools and seeing a wall appear by the end of the day? I found working on a project with Dad to be more enjoyable than going to an amusement park. Perhaps I found more fun in mastering a new skill than working hard to control certain bodily reflexes when going through loops and spins. I think I am still a bit like that today.
Some parts of construction were not so fun. I found the less desirable parts at the bottom and top of the house. I really did not like the heavy mud work. All that muck and very little beauty did not appeal to me for some reason. Of course, I knew from both of Dad’s professions that a good foundation makes everything else possible. So I dug and sweated. I also found out that blisters only last a little while.
The top side of the house presented another challenge. I did not mind climbing. Littles boys come in two variations – some of us gladly climb ladders and others experience oxygen deprivation when we stand on tippy toes. For me the ladder was fine. The problem, however, was what you got to carry up the ladder. Shingles get carried by boys who cannot nail them down. You start with part of a bundle, then you graduate to the full bundle. Fortunately the old days are gone. Shingles get delivered to the roof top.
Shingles bend the back. Shingles hurt. As I read Luke 13 I feel for the bent woman. I wonder what “spirit of infirmity” had broken her posture and possibly her spirit. I wonder how many looked on her with pity. They could stare with no fear of being observed because the lady could not lift her head. She only saw the footprints left by others and perhaps a crushed flower from time to time.
Even with her bent back she had courage. Jesus found her in the synagogue on the Sabbath. In that moment the bending of 18 years evaporated. The first face she saw showed compassion. As she rested from her labors that day she saw the One who transforms lives. Perhaps she had trouble understanding the fuss that ensued. Why was the synagogue president so angry? Maybe if he had walked her path, then he would celebrate with her. She listened to Jesus as He argued her worth to those who valued her less than a beast of burden.
Jesus valued her.
Jesus went on to teach the wonder of the kingdom of God. The kingdom would start as a little seed and would grow into a tree to lodge birds. The kingdom would be like Mom’s homemade bread. The dough would keep rising back even after she punched it down a couple of times. The yeast did that. The kingdom would go into the world and change everything!
Yet not all would be changed. Some would not go through the straight gate; they would enjoy the bread and fish on the outside. They would even listen to Jesus’ teaching, but His wisdom could not coax them to walk through to the kingdom.
Jesus wanted to heal more bent people. Jesus wanted to feed the soul in addition to the body. Jesus wanted everyone to know they had value regardless of what others said.
But some would not step under His wing.
Thank you for Your Word today. You have lifted my gaze and healed me so many times. Yet I wonder how often I do not show up on the Sabbath where You want to do some of Your best work. Forgive me, I pray. I do go to church. I do not always rest. Instead I let the shingles of life push me down; infirmities bend me over.
Help me to take more Sabbaths where You wait for me. Rather than seeing rest as escape from work, help me to see rest as an opportunity to see You and to know my life has value. I know from the reading a couple of days ago that I will get to carry my cross as I follow You; however, I know that cross is not worry, fear, worthlessness, loneliness, hopelessness, or aimlessness. I can carry my cross, but these other things cripple me. They cripple me to such an extent that I cannot help others – and You know I want to do that more than I want to go to an amusement park or beach resort.
I hear Your voice again this morning. I pause from my work. I remember a few years ago when You healed me of my own 18-year infirmity. You want to do it again. I receive your invitation to walk through the straight gate. I receive the healing only rest in Your presence can provide. I look forward to more Sabbaths with You and Your people.
In Jesus’ Name,
(I mean it Lord, I will need Your help to rest from my work so You can do Yours.)
Thank you for walking with me through Luke 13. Maybe you could take a moment of rest today. Do not be surprised if Jesus raises you up, and you see Him for the first time in a long while.