Jesus the Teacher: From the Inside Out
In Mount Laurel, Sunday’s sermon presented us with scripture and teaching about prayer, lack of forgiveness and unnecessary worry. A lack of forgiveness being compared to sickness didn’t sit well with me. I immediately got that nauseous feeling in my stomach. I started worrying about my soul being sick during a sermon talking about worry stealing your joy. I was going down that rabbit hole I often spiral. Being a girl who thrives on symbolism, I was so relieved to hear that Jesus gave us an antidote, the transformative healing power of prayer. He told us to go somewhere private and come to Him when we are scared, angry, anxious, and a host of other human ailments we so often endure. I did what I was told. I prayed. I asked God to help me sort through all the things this sermon triggered (and a good sermon always triggers something.) I asked for help. That’s been my prayer for the last month. Sometimes I feel so overwhelmed by the world and my reaction to it that I just don’t know what else to say to God. Thankfully, scripture tells us “for your Father knows exactly what you need before you ask Him.” (Matthew 6:8) What a relief…..Pressure off….But we have to ask…..
I’m not sure how this works for everyone else, and I welcome you to respond and let me know what ways God answers your prayers. I can tell you for sure that he does speak to me through symbolism as I mentioned earlier. That night I had a dream about a dragon. When I woke up, I immediately prayed and realized that the answer that had already been shown to me, before the sermon or the dream. I so often go back to the beautiful crafting of words in C.S. Lewis’ “The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.” I identify with the character Eustace. . . . He is a jerk. He’s antagonistic, self-centered and always pointing out faults. He just can’t be happy and he can’t keep his mouth shut. In the story, Eustace finds some treasure and ends up being “cursed” by his greed and self-indulgence. As a result of this curse, he turns into a dragon. How horrid!! Eustace becomes lonely in his new form and ends up having remorse and truly wants to change.
Aslan finds him and leads him to a wide bath and tells him he has to “undress” to go into the water and get relief. He tries to scratch his awful dragon skin off only to find more layers. Aslan said, “You will have to let me undress you.” Out of desperation, Eustace lets him. It was excruciatingly painful, but taking his skin off brought him relief. This is where I always start to cry. “Well, he peeled that beastly stuff right off…and there was I as smooth as a peeled switch and smaller than I had been. Then he caught hold of me – I didn’t like that much for I was very tender underneath now that I’d no skin on – and threw me into the water. It smarted like anything but only for a moment.” Eustace stops feeling the pain and he starts to feel the comfort, peace and joy we all crave.
It is such a beautiful story and I do believe God put that image on my heart to remind me that I took the antidote already. I asked Jesus to enter my life and I am in the process of being cured. I have been naïve to think that after I found redemption in Christ I wouldn’t slip up anymore. I do slip up; every day. I find comfort in the knowledge that He will continue to heal me. I also realized that while constant forgiveness of others’ “trespasses” is important, I also need to forgive myself. I know in my heart that even on my worst day, I strive to do my best. I believe that everyone else is doing the same. We don’t know what others are going through when we encounter them. It’s important to try and see the person behind the pain everyone carries with them. That’s what Jesus taught us. That’s what He wants us to know. Often times others are a reflection of what’s in us. We may be seeing things about ourselves we haven’t consciously accepted yet. That is why our healing comes from the inside out.
- Erica DePalma