Unworthy to be Touched

Jesus actually touched the leper. In a world where lepers were better off dead and treated on the same level as the demon possessed; Jesus did the unthinkable. As a Rabbi (Religious teacher), Jewish law said He had more of a responsibility to present Himself as clean. Leprosy was the complete opposite of clean.

I can only imagine the scene. The leper walking on the outskirts of the city shouting, “Unclean! Unclean! Unclean!” every so often. Mid-mantra the ostrocized and forgotten man spots the Rabbi of all Rabbis. It had been said this Rabbi did miracles; restoring lives and healing the sick… What if? What if this Man could restore the years the disease had stolen?

Mark 1:40-41 says the leper “…came to Jesus, beseeching Him and falling on his knees before Him, and saying, ‘If You are willing, You can make me clean.’ Moved with compassion, Jesus stretched out His hand and touched him…” What had to be going through the mind of this poor man as he humbled himself even further to ask a question he didn’t know the answer to? Would Jesus be afraid of him? Would Jesus be repulsed by him? Did Jesus even care? 

Was Jesus just another teacher that had the authority to reject him?

I’m fairly certain the leper didn’t have even the slightest inkling this well-known, powerful, God-filled Man would touch him. That’d be too risky, right? But that’s exactly what Jesus did. He touched the man first and dealt with the disease second.

Too often as Christians, in this world of instant gratification, we forget that we are called to touch those who aren’t as clean as we would like them to be. Whether the person needs healing, rehabilitation, a home or just simply a bath… we’ve gotten really good at expecting God to work through us but not require us to do anything. 

Healing? Well, um God, it’s AIDS. The woman needs a hug, she needs hope; but… it’s AIDS. I’ll just pray instead.

Rehabilitation? Well, Lord… it’s too dangerous, how could you use me, anyway? I can’t reach him. I’ll just hope he hits rock bottom before its too late.

The homeless? … They probably did it to themselves, Lord. Giving them anything would be enabling them, right?

…. It takes wisdom. Love takes Action.

*Inspired by Jim Cymbala’s book Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire 

Jesus of my Dreams

I’ve only had one reoccurring dream in my lifetime. To this day, it gives me chills. 

The dream occurred during a time when Jesus walked the Earth, and, apparently, He chose to be at my Church one day. His seat of honor was hanging from the vaulted ceiling, with a ladder set up for the “Prepared and Privileged” to climb in order to sit with Him. At 6 years old, disabled and unsteady, I decided to climb the ladder that must have been at least 20 feet tall. 

Maybe four rungs away from reaching my Jesus, I slipped and, screaming, began to tumble to what should have been my death. Just before I hit the ground, Jesus’ arms came around me and He whispered, “I’ll never let you go, Baby Girl. Never.” 

I’ve had that dream 2 other times in my life time. Each time, I’d slip right before reaching Jesus. Each time, Jesus would catch me at seemingly the last minute. Every time I’d wake up from the dream, I had one thought: “I have no idea why I had that dream.”

The last time I had that dream was probably 10 years ago. Today, people would call me a Doubting Thomas. I’m the one struggles to speak rather than stay pensively silent when an atheist tells me s/he doesn’t believe Christ is real. I know Christ is real. I also know what it’s like to waste away a night of angry tears wondering if I’m wasting my time on a Person that doesn’t exist. When confronted with a view that raises more questions than answers (and has fluid “facts” otherwise known as opinions), my heart is filled with one brokenly desperate plea: “Dear, Dear Jesus! Help me work out my faith, but please… protect my heart.”

Being cynical is about the most dangerous characteristic to carry over when you are a Believer in Jesus Christ.

Faith is often times described as, “Believing in what you cannot see.” Christianity is equally faith and fact; but often times I forget that. When a question regarding my faith is met with the answer, “You don’t need the answer to believe God is real”… I struggle to remember it’s an acceptable answer. 

My lack of faith does not constitute God’s lack of existence.

Recently, I was given several unanswered questions that made my heart ache and quake as my lifelong faith was put under scrutiny. I had to ask a question I was almost certain I wouldn’t hear an answer to: Dear Jesus. How can you stay silent? Are you even there? Are you… Are you real?

In the blink of an eye, the dream of my childhood came back. So did the nights I remember being completely alone working through another mind-breaking seizure and feeling Someone’s hand on my back and the words, “I’m here, Baby Girl. I know your name. You’re safe with Me.” All completely unexplainable moments when Jesus showed up. All of them incredibly real.

All the sudden, the dream of my Childhood meant more. All the sudden, my suffering through a lonely childhood because of my epilepsy made sense. All the sudden, the reoccurring dream of Jesus saving me at the last moment wasn’t a dream. It was a tangible reality.

Faith doesn’t make sense. But the One I have faith in always shows up- even when it may not seem necessary. 

Desperation Overload

As an epileptic I was taught how to “self-check” after a seizure. Name; Date of Birth and Current President are crucial, somewhat ridiculous questions. I’m 25 years old. I’m a college student. Those idiotically childish questions should be answerable in my sleep.

I’ve gotten those 3 facts wrong too many times.

A few nights ago, I had a “break through” seizure. With the treatment plan I’m on, break through complex partial (a few steps below a seizure I should be hospitalized for) seizures shouldn’t happen. Break through seizures shouldn’t be a part of my life; sometimes “shouldn’t be” is more of a prayer than it is a fact.

As soon as I felt my mental and physical faculties start to seize up I started mentally screaming in my mind,

“Cassie. Born in August. August what, though? Come on, Kiddo. August what? Don’t lose sight of what day you were born. Please.” I didn’t get the chance to admit Obama is still President before all I could do was focus on choking back a scream.

My heart rate was through the roof and I felt my tongue go numb. Every creak in the floor and clack in the pipes sent my brain into a rage. I was desperate for relief. I haven’t felt that out of control in my own body in ages.

Within maybe 10 minutes, the seizure was mostly over. My heart rate stayed erratic, but I could at least put together a few sentences and answer my questions. The desperation was gone. I’d feel like I had a hangover from Vegas the next morning, but I knew I’d be okay.

As an epileptic, elementary facts are key to your ability to walk away from a seizure with cognitive thought. If you can’t remember the basics, it’s obvious you can’t hold on to anything substantial or life-giving.

… When was the last time I was that desperate for Jesus? When was the last time I was just as desperate to remember the “basics” of Jesus Christ’s ability to change my life? When was the last time I clung to the fact that Jesus loves me as if to forget it would kill me? When was the last time I approached a theological debate with the understanding that His faithfulness is what gave my life meaning; not my ability to be right?

When was the last time I chose to see desperation as a gift rather than a curse?

Left Behind Again

I said good-bye to a friend who is saying good-bye to everyone as if he’ll never see us again this side of Heaven. He’s supposed to be gone just a few months, but he’s going into dangerous territory for the sake of the Gospel, so… Only Jesus knows.

When I walked away from him, I did the sappy deep breath, choked back sob, wipe away tears, thing. Then it hit me:

I’m actually letting myself be influenced by the pain of good-byes. I’m a missionary kid. I’ve said good bye a million times. “Good bye” is just a part of the journey. This can’t hurt… I’m gonna do it again in a few days with someone else.

That revelation was bittersweet for me. At 25, I’m not where I thought I’d be. I wouldn’t change any of it for the world, but at the same time full-time title of missionary is no where near what I think God is asking of me anymore.

Good byes get to hurt my heart because my life is actually structured in such a way where I can have friends for longer than a couple months.

I never thought I’d be the one saying I hate goodbyes. I never thought I’d be the one left on the other side of the Tarmac. Yet my calling is now to care deeply about the people that say goodbye, and my mission is to pray… that’s it. That’s enough.

Obedience hurts… but it’s so beautiful.

Evolution of Faith

As a kid, I struggled with worth. Left to my own devices, I was the one that encouraged chats about my disorders and disabilities because, in my mind as a child, we only needed to face one fact:

There was nothing interesting about me outside of my disabilities.

As a kid that felt she was expected to keep the conversation going (I have no idea where I got that expectation, by the way), if there was a pause in conversation; the automatic fix to the dilemma was to talk about my disabilities. Believe it or not, the last thought in my mind was that I was being narcissistic. It just made sure no one had to deal with silence. It was probably the most annoying thing about me.

If you talk about something enough, it consumes you. After it consumes you, it becomes your identity. I had no confidence in my wit, humor or personality; I certainly had no confidence in the God that created me. I was Cerebral Palsy and Epilepsy. Nice to meet you, too.

I had the random thought today that some people may think nothing has changed. Most of my jokes are around my awkward right hand, my half-a-brain existence and just my overarching quirkiness as a disabled adult. The only thing that has changed is probably also the most powerful.

I completely believe my disabilities prove God’s existence (and I’ve learned how to laugh).

The secondary subject of my life hasn’t changed, but my perspective has. My disabilities are no longer surrounded by the definition of me.

They’re surrounded by the fact that God created me like this for a purpose and my identity is in Him.

Unneeded & Confusing

“Hi, I noticed you have some limitations. What’s your name?”

It’s been at least 10 years since someone has said that about me based on my limp or clenched right hand. Although that wasn’t exactly what the stranger said, it might as well have been. He saw me using ASL and asked me if I was “Hearing Impaired”.

I can’t lie, no.. I’m not. Instead of letting the silence say what I wanted it to ( Is “Go away” too strong a silent message?) He asked more questions. The second he understood the very vague answer meant I had a disability, he plopped his overly-nice butt down in the vacant chair and said the following (literally, this time… unfortunately):

“I’m the pastor at (Town and Denomination shall stay nameless) and I was just thinking I needed to spend more time around your kind. Have you ever had a charismatic experience in which you could be healed?”

Miracle #1: I did not choke on my coffee.

Miracle #2: I somehow kept the cynicism out of my voice.

Miracle #3: I did not turn to sarcasm in order to ask him what kind he was.

Today, I spent almost 90 minutes with this man trying desperately to show him that withholding healing from me was not God’s way of showing me He hated me. It was His way of living up to His promise that through Weakness, his Strength is revealed.

I’m not sure if he understood, but I left the coffee shop amused and blessed because I was reminded of one thing.

I’m an imperfect individual society thinks should fall between the cracks, yet my God gives me purpose… despite those imperfections.

That makes me laugh… but oh, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I Don’t Want Prince Charming

We live in a very fake culture. Anything we don’t like about reality, we cover it up or throw it away. Then we wonder why our marriages have stopped working and why our women are throwing themselves at empty promises in hopes that their dreams will come true.

I can’t believe I have to say this, but…

I hereby promise and commit to my Savior that I will not look for Prince Charming or change myself into what my culture says he’ll want.

Here’s the deal: That does not make me anti-man. I absolutely love it when the man of my heart spends time with me, takes care of me, steps up and leads to the best of his ability.

I’m all about love. Actual love.

In our Hollywood/ Disney-made world, we say everything ends in marriage. Wait. What?! Marriage is the bond of two people where, for better or worse, they are declaring they’ll put up with, love and fight for the same person the rest of our lives, and we say the journey ends in marriage?

Honey, your commitment to love does not end when the champagne is opened and the wedding dress is taken off. Prince Charming isn’t always Charming; Cinderella doesn’t always have perfect hair…

Don’t throw away Godly, purposeful love simply because you start learning that love on this side of heaven involves humans, breakable hearts and selfish people.

If there’s anything I’ve learned in the past several months it’s that Godly love gets down in the trenches and learns ways to heal and cherish, even when the other person doesn’t seem lovable.

That’s love… Hollywood has nothing compared to that.