Have you ever experienced a moment when it felt like God got personal with you?
Maybe it was a quiet time when you sat alone with your thoughts and sensed Him saying that you weren’t alone at all. Or maybe it was picking up the phone and hearing a friend’s voice speaking the very words of encouragement you needed to hear. Or a time when it seemed like a pastor or an author spoke directly to you with sermon notes or chapter headings perfectly covering what to do about the troubles haunting you all week.
For me, it happened once when I felt like everything in my life had turned upside down. Alone, confused, heartbroken, I sat in my backyard wondering how the world was still turning when mine had seemingly stopped.
“He reached down from heaven and rescued me; he drew me out of deep waters.” (Psalm 18:16)
God stilled my thundering heart and quieted my mind through the simple sounds of the morning. The breeze rustling through the trees, birds singing, dogs barking in the distance, and children’s voices playing in the park floating up from down the hill. The warm sun on my arms and face felt like a comforting voice saying, “All of these things are still happening, Jody. Life is going on because I am here. Right here with you. This world belongs to me.”
I looked around at all that remained constant in the midst of my storm, and I felt calmer. God was with me. He knew the words my heart needed to hear, and He took time with me to say them. I could have stayed there forever. But in my experience, that’s not how personal healing moments with God work.
“Go and tell your family and friends how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” (Mark 5:19)
When God gets personal with us, we experience His nearness. We know on a deep level that He sees our pain and somehow, miraculously delivers just what we need right when we need it. We find comfort, peace, healing and rest. For some of us, it’s a moment we would love to remain in. But God’s idea of healing doesn’t stop with us. As personal as it is, God’s healing plan for you and me always ends with an invitation to make our personal healing public.
Our healing deepens, and the healing of others becomes possible when we share how God’s love gets personal in our lives.
Peter experienced this truth when his world came crashing down around him.
Poor confused and frightened Peter. He had found meaning, purpose, and joy when he cashed in everything to follow Jesus. When Jesus was arrested, Peter believed that all was lost. He became so afraid that he denied even knowing Jesus. With nowhere to turn, no one to comfort and reassure him, he wept the bitter tears of a heartbroken man. (Luke 22:62)
Over the next three days, Jesus redeemed humankind. And Jesus could have allowed Peter to figure out for himself that he was among those who were forgiven and restored by Christ’s death and resurrection. But because Jesus loved Peter in a deeply personal way (just like he loves you and me) he met Peter at the water’s edge with a deeply personal message of healing. (John 21)
And I’m guessing Peter could have stayed in that moment with Jesus forever. But that’s not how personal healing works.
Jesus gave Peter something to do with his newly healed self. Something that would take his healing to the next level.
Peter said, “Lord, you know everything. You know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Then feed my sheep.” (John 21:17)
Jesus wanted Peter to know that his personal moment of healing had a purpose beyond easing his own pain and securing his relationship with Christ. By inviting Peter to “feed my sheep,” by encouraging him to tell others what he had witnessed and experienced, Jesus was inviting Peter into God’s bigger story. Jesus took Peter’s healed heart and restored his purpose.
And He wants to do the same for us.
“He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.”
(2 Cor. 1:4)
When healing gets personal, God has a plan.
God loves to get personal with us. But he asks us to do something with our healed selves. To share how he rescued us out of the deep waters and set our feet back on solid ground. So our own healing can be complete, and so others might be comforted and encouraged.
When healing gets personal, we can’t keep it private. As much as we would like to stay inside our cozy, personal moments with God, we’ve got to get moving.
We’ve got a story to share, and it’s time to go public.
How has God gotten personal with you? Who might be comforted and encouraged by hearing your story?