717 miles, 3 states, ~10 hours on the road and about 100 pictures later, I am safely back home after traveling to Winston-Salem, NC to visit (and surprise) my former pastor and his wife who were installed in their new church this past weekend. What a nice congregation they seem to have and I pray for them as they continue their ministry for the Lord.
The pastor's sermon this weekend was entitled "Issue" and he broke down the acronym to mean "Irritating, Suffocating Situations Unsettling Everybody". His text of scripture was Luke 8:40-48 - the passage dealing with the woman with the issue of blood. Boy, can I relate to this story! Without going into graphic details, for almost 10 years, I went through a similar situation due to endometriosis and fibroid complications. I wasted a lot of time, energy, money dealing with doctors and insurance companies who didn't want to address/solve the problem because "you are still young", "you might want to have children one day", and my personal favorite: "how would you feel if we went ahead with this surgery and then you met the man of your dreams and he wanted to have children - then what would you do?" Ok, Shemar ain't knocking down my door - and if he is truly the "man of my dreams", he would accept me as I am...even if that meant having to deal with my inability to have children. It took me ten years to convince them, but on June 23, 2004, I FINALLY had a hysterectomy that stopped my "issue of blood." Amen! Hallelujah!
But I still have other "i.s.s.u.e.(s)" - we all do. We all have things that we allow to cloud our lives, stop our ministry, hinder our fellowships. The woman in the Bible had suffered for 12 years under a cloud of contempt, whispering, gossiping by the "saints" of the day, and generally just feeling like an outcast. But when her chance for salvation, redemption, and a change came, she reached out and grabbed it. Now, she was content to let her change be between her and Christ and just the two of them alone. (How often have you felt that same way?) But in his sermon, the pastor brought out these three points: when you come in contact with Jesus - when you touch Him - (1) you will know it; (2) He will know it; and (3) everyone else should know it as well. You cannot come in contact with Him without being changed. After being healed, this nameless woman tried to slip away, but Jesus called her out, put her on blast, so to speak - "who touched me?", He said. And she eventually had to stand up and give her testimony about what He did for her - and I'm personally glad that she did, because 2,000 years later, her testimony encouraged and sustained me as I went through my similar trial and test.
I've talked about the value of testimony before. I encourage you again - share what God has done for you in your life with others. You never know how your testimony will bless someone. Yes, you may still have "i.s.s.u.e.(s)" going on in your life - you probably will until Jesus returns - don't let that hinder you from being a witness to the goodness of God.
And by the way, just as you want people to be patient with you and your "i.s.s.u.e.(s)", be patient with others who have them also. Not always the easiest thing to do, I know, but if you look at others the same way you want them to look at you...you will be amazed to discover that we are all just sinners saved by grace, doing the best we can to make it.