Jesus was a Handyman

I‘ve been working on a flyer for a ladies’ retreat my friend and I are planning. It’ll be a half day event for women. A little time for revival. Refreshment. Reflection. And rest. Maybe rest more than anything. It seems to be what my heart yearns for more than anything here lately. Peace and quiet. Anyway, inspiration for the occasion struck six months ago after watching a video. “A Day with Beth Moore.” Someone suggested I mention who she is on the flyer, though. So I did what I usually do. I went to Wikipedia. And for some reason, I was surprised to find the word evangelist. Author. Yes. Bible teacher. For sure. But evangelist? I’d just never seen Beth Moore in that light before. So I opted to leave evangelist out of the description.

If I want to be truthful, I’d have to say evangelist is a word I shy away from. And to be blunt, it can sometimes leave a bad taste in my mouth. Evangelist. Probably because I can put a face with the name. An oily one with slicked back hair. Or I can recall a Bible thumper who thumped me on the head just a little too hard. And frankly, there have been some television evangelists who’ve inspired me to turn the TV right off. So I didn’t want the word to deter any potential attendees from the event. Nope. I decided to leave off evangelist. Author and Bible teacher seemed safer.

However, the word came back to me today. More than once. Evangelist. So I wanted to find out if it’s in the Bible or if it’s a title we later created. But it’s there. Turns out it’s not such a bad word after all. Used twice in the New Testament. It means “a bringer of good tidings. the name given to heralds of salvation through Christ who are not apostles.” So that’s not so bad. An evangelist is simply one who brings a message. Good news. According to dictionary.com, a herald formerly referred to a royal messenger. Especially one representing a monarch in an ambassadorial capacity during wartime. And I just loved that. Because I couldn’t help but think of Jesus. Who He was. Royalty. And who He came to represent. God. And the condition of our land. War. And the words He spoke in His ambassadorship…

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
    because the Lord has anointed me
    to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted… Isaiah 61:1

Though Jesus technically wasn’t an evangelist, He evangelized nonetheless. Because He brought good news. Moreover, He was the good news. But it was another portion of Isaiah 61 that resonated most. Something I heard echoed by James Taylor today. When the familiar intro to Handyman filled my living room, I just wanted to savor the words. More so today than ever. So I told my son to hush (perhaps not so nicely – patience running thin). And in the listening, it was almost as if Jesus called out to me. He said, I fix broken hearts, I know I really can. And it connected. All the dots. Jesus being a carpenter. His coming to bind up the brokenhearted. Revelation dawned. Seems that Jesus was a Handyman. A fixer of broken things.

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I just have to say, I may be in need of a little fixing right now. I’m feeling a little broken down. Because I’m tired. I’ve been burning both ends of the candle for weeks and weeks and weeks. Staying busy till close to midnight most nights. My son out of school and awake till at least 10:30 or 11:00. My infant daughter waking through the night (again). Up by 6:15 and as soon as my feet hit the floor, I iron clothes because the basket is full and the closet is empty. So I’m missing something I used to have. Because with the end of school, routine has gone out the window. Along with peace and quiet. And I miss it. Or more specifically, I miss Him. And the time we used to have.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

I couldn’t help but notice all the moms at church this morning. Several stuck out in particular. Mainly the ones with the toddlers and babies. “Littles” as my cousin calls them. One looked exhausted, one harried, one continually on the move. And me. I spent most of the morning pushing Annabelle back and forth in her stroller. And it was a good morning because she let me do it. But it’s these mothers I think of today. I wonder if they feel broken down like me. Worn thin. Stretched tight. Pulled too many directions. Perhaps their hearts are in need of repair, too.

Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people, “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?” They came out of the town and made their way toward him. John:4:28-30

Yeah, I’m preparing for this women’s event. There’s the video. Food and drinks. Decorations. And music. So in the planning, it was “Come to the Well” by Casting Crowns that came to me last night. Or was it the night before? Honestly, I can’t say for certain. Time blurs together now. But the song put me in mind of the Samaritan woman. And Jesus’ interaction with her. See, she was broken, too. She needed some fixing. Basically, He came to her. He brought good news. And offered living water. Refreshment. A picture of evangelism.

Afterward, the woman left her jar. Her worries and her busyness. She went and said, “Come see.” And I just can’t help but think this woman had to be one of the first evangelists. Because she went to tell about a Man she met. His name was Jesus. She became a herald of good news. And because she did, many came to meet Him.

But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry. 2 Timothy 4:5

I think about this event. About Beth Moore being an evangelist. And now I know that’s exactly what she is. Because basically, she brings good tidings. Seems that long ago, her heart needed mending. But there was a Man named Jesus. A Handyman who came to bind up the broken hearted. And after her heart was repaired, she told others about Him. About how He healed her. And after He’d whisper sweet truths in her ear, she’d share what she learned. And all her friends came running. To Him. It’s like the song by James Taylor. And like Jesus’ words in Isaiah. A Handyman.

So I second guess the flyer. Perhaps I should have left evangelist in the description. Because that’s what Beth Moore is. And what the Samaritan woman was. And really, I guess I am, too. Because though I may be going through a rough patch, stretched a little thin, I did meet a Man. My heart was broken and He fixed it. And He’ll mend it again. As often as I need it. That’s just what He does. See, He’s busy 24 hours a day. And this women’s event is really my way of sharing that good news. Seems that I’m doing the work of an evangelist after all. Telling all my friends about a Man who knew everything about me. And healed me. A man named Jesus who came to bind up the broken hearted.

Yes, I’ve been planning this 1/2 day event. And it’s the moms I watched this morning. And countless others out there. They’re who I think about. Who I hope to see. Because I can tell. They’ve been so busy. Tired. Stretched thin. And maybe their hearts need a little mending today. A few minor repairs for fixing. Like mine. Good news is, I found this great Handyman. I’ve seen His work. And He does wonders.

 

Something greater

Three years ago, I turned to God. In a way I never had before. Sincerely and wholly. I was desperate for Him. And then the miracle took place. God answered my prayer, and He sent me to my homeland. It was what I wanted more than anything. And upon entrance into what I considered the “promised land,” I found a dry and desolate place instead. I walked straight into the wilderness, spiritually speaking. And so, God gave me my greatest desire, but there was leanness in my soul. And so… two years ago, I again turned to God. Just as the first time, I was desperate for Him. And once again, a miracle took place. I began to find Him. I mean, really find Him. He began to lead me through His word. And words that always held meaning began to mean so much more. Words that were weighty, became even greater. Because they spoke to me personally.

During the summer of 2011, the thought came to me that I should write. Not just once, but several times… and so I finally embraced it. I was given a dream, and with God’s help, I knew that I could do what He said. But I delayed. What a daunting task for one who had never written before. But in the fall of 2011, an email detailing a Christian writing contest was delivered right into my inbox. This bolted me into action. And so, writing is what I have been doing ever since. Writing and composing… for God. And I’ve been completely and utterly, impassioned and inspired by His lovely words.

My heart is overflowing with a good theme;
I recite my composition concerning the King;
My tongue is the pen of a ready writer. Psalm 45:1

Yes, I was given a dream. And with all my heart, I believe it was the Giver of all dreams who blessed me with the desire to write. But as time passes, this lovely dream of mine becomes tainted. A heart divided, and too much self-ambition has turned this joy of mine into an idol. And God is clear… one cannot serve two masters. And so, for now… I know what I need to do. It’s time for me to give the dream back. God cautioned me several times the past couple of years, but my heart was too thick and my ears were too dull to listen. I was too prideful. See, it was through the words of a long ago prophet that God spoke plainly. Jeremiah may have been speaking to Baruch, a scribe who wrote out Jeremiah’s words, but it was as if God were speaking right into my ear…

And do you seek great things for yourself? Do not seek them… Jeremiah 45:5

Oh, yes. God knows the heart. And He gives dreams. But when the dream becomes bigger than the One who gave the dream, it’s time to give the dream back. I want to hold on to it… because it’s my dream. But, I’m certain God is saying, “Give it back.” At least for now.  And you know the funny thing? As I lay my dream at God’s feet, putting it aside… He gives birth to a new dream. But this one is not mine. This one’s for my husband, who has been given a dream of his own. And so, as I slide my dream to the backburner, perhaps it’s time for my husband to bring his to the forefront. (If you haven’t read The Dream Giver by Bruce Wilkinson, please do!)

Believe me, I’ve struggled with this. Because I still have so many blogs in my head, and ideas within the pages of my journal, and so many things I want to say. But there’s no doubt. God has drawn me in this direction a few times now. But I’ve hesitated. I’ve procrastinated. I’ve been holding tight to that dream. Inside, just like a child, I scream, “MINE, MINE, MINE!” But you know… my dream has grown so big, it looms before me. It becomes what I see first and biggest, and so, I see Him secondly and smaller. His voice that was so clear two years ago is not as easy to hear. My heightened awareness to His working in my life has been dulled. And so I have a choice. I can grasp desperately at this dream of mine, hoping it will satisfy. Or, I can hold out for something greater. And that something greater is Him. And the choice is not as hard as I thought. Because I want Him more. He’s the whole point of the writing in the first place. And if I lose Him through the process, then doesn’t that defeat the purpose?

You know, at the top of this blog it says, “The truth about God & me.” Perhaps I should have typed out, “The embarrassing truth about God & me.” Because I just have to share one more dream with you. I don’t know about you, but I have vivid dreams. And I remember many of them. It was just this past week that I shared one with my husband. In my dream, I ran into Beth Moore (of Living Proof Ministries – great Bible teacher/speaker). When I saw her, I told her what a fan I was. And then, well, here’s the embarrassing part… I dreamt that Beth Moore turned to me and said that she was my fan, too!! Okay… even in sleep, my dream of being a successful writer has overtaken me. Talk about being overly-ambitious! And so, since Beth Moore has been at the forefront of my mind lately, I think it’s appropriate to end this blog with her words. For she has so inspired me in my journey toward God… this is what I read this morning:

“Discontent with selfishness and weary of ego, we finally become willing to lose ourselves to something greater. In doing so, we find Christ as we’ve never known Him and, there, pooled in the reflection of His eyes, startle to discover that a part of ourselves resemble Him.” Beth Moore/Esther study

mother and child reunion

Mother and child

I think we’ve all heard it at least once in our lives. I believe we have all been cautioned by some well-meaning person with the phrase, “Don’t get your hopes up.” And perhaps in accompaniment to the words of wisdom, their heads shook back and forth, or maybe their faces displayed the most severe expression to fully demonstrate the foolhardiness of one who hopes. Because any sound person can tell you… hope surely will be dashed to the ground. And the well-meaning person… likely a loved one… was really only trying to help you when they told you what they did. But truth be known, after hearing it so many times, a person who was once full of faith may fall into the same mindset. Despite the faithful’s best intentions, she may sink down into that grim sort of outlook on life, expecting the worst out of circumstances… and of people. But then, when least expected, hope glimmers and faith renews. And those are the times, for me at least, when the words, “Get behind me, Gehazi,” come to mind. Believe it or not, this will make sense by the end of this blog. After reading this, may we all cry out, “Get behind me, Gehazi!”

It was three years ago that I had great hope. I knew that I knew that I knew that I knew that God was going to return me to my hometown in Virginia. I felt it in my bones. I had come across Scripture, and I felt assured that it was a promise to me, despite being written to the children of Israel so long ago. And so, I was fully expectant, full of faith, and full of hope that my God would bring it to pass. No one could tell me otherwise. And believe me, some tried to. You know those cautious phrases, “Don’t get your hopes up,” and “I’m just saying,” and, “I don’t want to see you get hurt.”

And so, in reflecting on those nay-sayers of days gone by, I cannot help but think about the Shumannite woman in contrast. It’s in the fourth chapter of Second Kings that we read about her, and we find that she was wealthy with no needs. She even took care of others’ needs, including Elisha the prophet. Whenever he passed by, she would urge him to eat. And so eventually, after some visits, she asked her husband if they could prepare a room for this man of God to rest in. And so it came to pass that the man of God wanted to do something for this kind woman who had no needs. When asked, she said, “I dwell among my own people…” Translation, “I’m fine, I don’t need a thing.” Elisha turned to his assistant, Gehazi. It was Gehazi who named something she didn’t have. He knew that the wealthy woman had no son, and not only that, her husband was old. Translation, chances of a child were slim to none. But see, with God all things are possible. Elisha informed the Shumannite woman that she would indeed have a child. He said, “About this time next year you shall embrace a son.” And she said, “No, my Lord. Man of God, do not lie to your maidservant!” Translation, “No way!”

Elisha told the woman who had no need that she would indeed have a son and it must have seemed impossible. Could a baby have been a long forgotten desire that had been buried deep away? Or could it be that this woman had yearned for a baby for years, the longing never extinguished… the burning ever fresh? We don’t really know, only that she in fact conceived and gave birth to a son. And as any mother today knows, this woman had to have loved him with all her heart and soul. And so, what happened next came as such a surprise to me. The child grew, but one day his head began to hurt. So, he was carried back home to his mother. And you know, that Shumannite woman held him on her knees until noon, and then, he died. He died… right there on her lap. Here is a woman who didn’t ask for a child, and yet, the man of God promised her a son. And she bore that son and loved him. But then… death? How could that be?

The woman laid her son’s body on the bed she had prepared for the man of God, and she called for a donkey and her servant. She said, “Drive, and go forward; do not slacken the pace for me unless I tell you.” Translation, “Go as fast as you can and do not stop!” And so she departed, and went to the man of God. When Elisha saw her from a distance, he sent his servant Gehazi. He told Gehazi to check on her well being. But that Shumannite woman had none of that. She answered Gehazi’s questions, but left him behind as she reached for the man of God. See, it was Elisha who made the promise. It was he who was the man of God, and it was he that she was desperate to reach. And as she grabbed hold of him, Gehazi tried to push her away. But Elisha saw her anguish, he saw her pain…

Here we see a picture of a woman… a woman who dared to hope for a son despite the odds. But then, he died… and yet, the woman seemed to have held on to hope. Because afterward, she didn’t stop moving until she reached the man of God. And when Gehazi tried to deter her, she didn’t let him slow her down. When she reached Elisha, she said, “Did I ask a son of my lord? Did I not say, ‘Do not deceive me’?” Translation,”I never asked for a son, and yet you told me I would have one. And so why, now, does my child lay dead on your bed?” Elisha then said to his servant, Gehazi, “Get yourself ready, and take my staff in your hand, and be on your way.” But that wasn’t good enough for this woman. See, her faith lay with the man of God, and so she clung to him and said she would not leave him. And so, He arose and followed her. And Elisha indeed performed a miracle that day. He did what Gehazi could not accomplish, and he roused the child.

I admire this woman because she never gave up hope. And it was at a ladies’ conference last fall that I first heard of the Shumannite woman and her persistence. It was Beth Moore who paralleled this woman’s trek to Elisha as our own trek to Jesus, and she said that there are just those times when no one else will do but Him. Beth said that when those “Gehazis” try to get in our way and block our path, we just need to push them aside and say, “Get behind me, Gehazi!” And essentially, that’s what the Shumannite woman did. And in addition to her unswerving hope and persistence, I also admire that she fully expected the miracle… She dared to hope against all odds. And more than once. When things looked the darkest, she didn’t lose her faith. Because she believed the man of God when he told her that she would have a son. This woman never gave up on her child… not once. And isn’t this what mother’s do today? Don’t we all hold to hope when it concerns our children?

You know, it would be way too easy to shut down. It would be pretty comfortable to keep one’s hopes low, so that hopes would not be dashed to the ground. It would be so easy to just close oneself up tight and to not hope for anything else, ever again… because that would be safe. Because when the Gehazi’s of the world tell us over and over, “Don’t get your hopes up,” we eventually start to think that way. And who wants to risk heartache, right? But that’s not biblical… at all. Because God is the God of hope! And without faith, it is impossible to please Him! And although with man it’s impossible, with God all things are possible! And let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, because He who promised is faithful! Believe Him. Just take Him at His word.

In all my life, there have only been a handful of times that I have felt assured of a promise by God. The first was that He would return me to my hometown. And upon return to my homeland, I felt sure that all of my people would one day be His people (those that are not already His). I felt confident of that when I read a particular verse in Isaiah, and I still believe that today. I claim that promise. And it was the fall of 2011 that I knew that I knew that I knew that I knew that I would have another baby. And sure enough, it was December 13, 2011 that I learned of my pregnancy. You can imagine my surprise when the sonogram showed that there was no heartbeat, and I had a miscarriage shortly thereafter. I didn’t understand… because God promised me a baby. And I did all the right things… I believed it, I hoped it, and yet, no baby. But the truth is, there is a baby. Just not here on this side of eternity… just not here where I can hold him or her on my lap.

It was a few days ago that I came across a note in my Bible placed beside Psalm 30:5. It says, “1/23/12, sonogram 1/20, no heart beat.”  When I read this portion of Scripture over a year ago, I felt assured of a promise: “For His anger is but for a moment, His favor is for life; weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.” Yes, I’ll claim the promise I find here. For I’m promised God’s favor for life… And I’m told that joy comes in the morning. And so, that’s mine. I’ll believe it and I’ll hope for it.

You know, God promised me a baby. And he fulfilled that promise, for I’ll meet that baby one day in heaven. And so, for today, I have the hope of a mother and child reunion. And as of today, I will always choose hope. I shall always believe… for “blessed is she who believed, for there will be a fulfillment of those things which were told her from the Lord.” Luke 1:45

And to all those nay-sayers out there… to all those who wisely tell me to not get my hopes up, I forever shall say, “Get behind me, Gehazi.” For I’ll let nothing stand in the way of me and my Jesus.