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  • Writer's pictureDebbie Salter Goodwin

The Big, Bad If

How can a two-letter word take down your faith? How can something so small demoralize you, capture you, and leave you chained to everything you don’t want to be true? That’s the question in today’s story.

Read Luke 5:12-16

He came with an obvious problem, easy for all to see. He was a leper. He lived in the shadows, at a distance from the normal ebb and flow of life. He was required to announce his disease so people could get out of the way to prevent contamination. He lived without human touch or welcome.

That is until Jesus walked down the street. The leper dismissed all protocol and ran toward the one he had heard about, fell at his feet in a crowd-stopping moment.

"Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean."

To the leper, this was not a question of ability, but of willingness.

Who Am I?

And that’s where I saw myself, balled up at the feet of Jesus with so many ifs. How many times have I come tentatively asking, sometimes selfishly, but at least asking honestly. "If you would just use your All-power to fix my problem, change my situation, give me a break, make something better, everything would be so much . . . easier."

I know better. I really do. I know that Jesus doesn’t give easy; he gives what’s good. I know that his willingness to love me and help me is unbounded, until I throw it all away in if.

Suddenly, I know where it comes from. I have accused Jesus of unwillingness I have suffered from others. Is that my leprosy? The sores I carry from others who were unwilling to understand or hear or reconcile?

That’s when I know the answer to my question in the same moment I ask it. If is no longer an accusation or complaint; it is all my hope rolled into two letters. It is a plea to recover trust. That’s when I know that Jesus sees my true need and meeting it will take something more than what I thought I wanted. That’s when I see his compassion for my unnecessary angst. He tells me the same thing he told the leper: I am willing.

The problem isn’t His willingness; it’s mine. Am I willing for his answer to be my answer?

Who Are You?

Are you carrying wounds you cannot heal? Are you watching someone live in the pits of if-only? Where is the unnecessary chink in your faith in Jesus’ willingness toward you? Make this story personal all the way to the leper’s turnaround healing and see what Jesus is willing to do for you.

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