God's Healing Stinks

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(Presione aquí para leer en español.) 

Have you ever had the experience of God “unfolding” the meaning of a Scripture passage in your heart? Recently, He’s been doing that in my heart with John 11. This is the account of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. Over the years, I have read this story in John, heard sermons preached on it and even read a book or two related to it. But as I’ve studied it in the context of brokenness, God is showing me something new from this miracle.

Jesus was poised to work. He was ready to raise a dead man for the glory of the Father, and He told the men to roll the stone away. But there was a very practical problem of which Martha was well aware. The stink. Martha’s first thought was of the stench of a man who has been dead for four days. In one translation, Martha simply says, “Lord, it stinketh.”

Martha’s simple protest represents what so many of us have felt when the Lord is poised to bring healing and redemption.

For God to work in your marriage, you may have to enter some pretty rotten places. The stone of the past needs to be rolled away, and you may need to revisit unpleasant conversations and experiences for God to breath new life into a dead relationship.

The same is true of healing from trauma. Who wants to talk about childhood sexual abuse or broken vows? I agree with Martha. It stinketh! Wouldn’t we be better off just keeping the tomb of the past sealed? Who wants to deal with that stink?

Working toward healing in any area of our lives means having difficult conversations and remembering hurtful things. I’ve met many, many women who long for freedom and redemption, but they run away because of the stink. “It’s better to leave the past in the past,” they say. Are you running away from the work of restoration God wants to do in your life or family because of the stench?

There are many marriages and relationships that are “quasi-healed” because no one wants to acknowledge the pain and difficulty of the past. An affair is swept under the rug because it’s too painful to acknowledge. You ignore an addiction because confronting it might be too disruptive. Or you limp along, allowing your past to haunt you but refusing to invite the Lord into the mess for the purpose of healing.

When the Lord rolls away the stone of our brokenness, he does so to bring new life. Will you trust Him with your stinky past, trusting that He truly can replace beauty for ashes and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair?

My friend, Jesus wants you to take off those “grave clothes” because He has breathed new life into what was dead. He can handle the stink and He will give you grace in the journey.

If you are willing to invite the Lord to roll away the gravestone of your heart, a great first step may be to read our book Surprised by the Healer. This book chronicles the stories of nine women who have experienced the power of God’s healing in their lives and marriages.

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  • Edith Reyes

    Edith Reyes

    Taking off the "grave clothes" so He can breathe new life into me, made me think of the exchange or transformation bought out in Isaiah 61:1-3. Beauty instead of ashes. Oil of gladness instead of mourning or garments of praise instead of a faint spirit. "IF" we let Him, those grave clothes and that gravestone on our hearts, of pain and devastating grief will be exchanged for Joy and a beautiful head dress. When I think of the head dress, I think of a renewing of my mind. Let go, let God!

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Joshua Harris, Sexuality, and "Deconstructing" Christianity
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Our beliefs about sexuality begin and end with our beliefs about God. Is He trustworthy? Is His Word reliable? How could a loving God not embrace me just the way I am? As Joshua’s journey showcases, when we question God’s sovereignty and kindness related to our sexuality, we will question everything we have ever believed about Him. Deconstructing our views of sexuality will always cause us to revisit our beliefs about God. This is why it is critical for every Christian to be firmly rooted not simply in the rules of Christian sexuality, (“thou shalt not…”) but to delve deeply into God’s heart related to our sexuality.   The purity narrative has never offered a satisfactory explanation of God’s heart for sexuality. In an effort to encourage teenagers to stay pure, the purity movement presented unrealistic promises (a great marriage and sex life) to those who followed the rules, and oppressive shame (you become like "already chewed bubble gum") for those who didn’t. The larger message of the gospel somehow got lost. God is not primarily after our sexual purity; He is after our hearts. Our righteousness has never come from our sexual choices, but by surrendering to the finished work of Christ. We have not been called to “save ourselves for marriage,” but to set ourselves apart for God.     Satan's goal is not simply to destroy sexuality but to keep us from God. I have met many people, like Joshua, who have been hurt and disillusioned by the message of sexual purity. But let’s be clear: The message of “sex positivity” is also leaving a multitude of ruined lives in its wake. The purity movement was not primarily destructive because of what it taught, but because of what it often failed to teach. Following Christ has never been as simple as obeying a list of rules, nor have the blessings of obedience been primarily about happiness in our earthly bodies. The gospel is far more profound. A few years ago, I got stuck on something Paul wrote to the Corinthian church: “I resolved when I was with you to teach nothing but Christ and Christ crucified.” If you’ve read Paul’s letters to the early churches, you know that Paul taught about a lot of things, including sexuality. But his statement means that in every topic we address, we must begin and end with the message of Jesus Christ. He is our why. He is our how. He is our what. As I pondered this passage, I wondered, how can I talk about all of these sexual issues at Authentic Intimacy with the same resolve that Paul had—to teach nothing but Christ and Christ crucified? We can’t just talk about sexual purity, the dangers of pornography, sexual abuse recovery, or any other sexual issue in a vacuum. 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He is Lord.   To learn more, check out these additional resources:  Pure Sadness and a Better Way Forward; Dr. Juli Slattery's newest book, Rethinking Sexuality; Java with Juli episode #235: How the Purity Movement Hurt Us;  #236: Pursue Wholeness, Not Purity; and #256: Who Is Jesus to You? Photo provided by I Survived I Kissed Dating Goodbye