The Light of the World
William Holman Hunt
Do you remember the story of The Scorpion and the Frog from the dramatic film, “The Crying Game?”
The kidnapped black British soldier tells his softy IRA captor Fergus the story.
“Scorpion wants to cross a river, but he can’t swim. Goes to the frog, who can, and asks for a ride. Frog says, ‘If I give you a ride on my back, you’ll go and sting me.’
Scorpion replies, ‘It would not be in my interest to sting you since as I’ll be on your back we both would drown.’
Frog thinks about this logic for a while and accepts the deal. Takes the scorpion on his back. Braves the waters.
Halfway over feels a burning spear in his side and realizes the scorpion has stung him after all. And as they both sink beneath the waves the frog cries out, ‘Why did you sting me, Mr. Scorpion, for now we both will drown?’
Scorpion replies, ‘I can’t help it, it’s my nature.’”
The story apparently is both an African and a European folktale. It was an epiphanic moment when I watched the film 20 years ago, as I was struggling with a difficult and exploitative person, who continued taking advantage of us. I realized that some people cannot change their behaviour. It is their nature. I was wasting my time being outraged. Accept the way people act as their nature, and adjust your dealings with them accordingly.
Someone who has lied to or about you, gossiped about you, taken advantage of you, or exploited you will very likely do it again. It is their nature. If you continue the friendship because of their other redeeming qualities, be aware that you will be stuck with the restaurant bills, for instance. And if the villainous one is in your church, smile, but avoid being in a small group, or in situations which require self-revelation with them. Answer their questions with wariness.
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And sometimes, conversely, you meet lovely people full of kindness. And here is the kindest of all. “But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” God is good, because that is his nature.”
(And his nature often annoys his followers who ask, “Why do the wicked prosper?” See how Jonah reproaches God for having mercy on Nineveh. “I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity.”)
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I have heard a couple of speakers recently, John Arnott and Patricia Bootsma among them, saying that God would never send us sickness. Sickness comes from the Devil. It is always God’s will to heal. Jesus never refused a direct request for healing. Death made him weep. Smith Wiggleworth, interestingly, believed the same thing.
I have been interested recently in how different people have vast faith for different things. Mueller and Hudson Taylor could raise millions by faith alone. Heidi Baker and Bill Johnson have records of remarkable healings. Isabel Allum who I heard last week started off with a rather tedious account of satnavs, medicine, diamond earrings and power tools found after prayer.
“The measure—or limits—of our faith is our anointing,” I read today in a fascinating book by R. T. Kendall called “The Anointing.” Those who understand God’s nature of generosity, of provision like a river, experience God’s miracles of provision. Those who understand God’s heart of compassion, how Jesus found it hard to keep his hands off sick people, expect and experience miracles of healing.
Nicky Gumbel asked Rick Warren recently at the Leader’s Conference, “Why do you think God has used you so powerfully?” Rick Warren, “Because I expect him to.”
Faith is like the rainbow bridge between heaven and earth, between God’s power and our need.
Or perhaps we could say faith is the key inside our front door that opens it to the power of the Christ who stands outside and knocks.
I honestly believe that when we ask God to touch us, to heal our emotional wounds, to heal our suffering bodies, he does. It may be seismic, or it may be the start of a process, but he does. He does not keep his hands off us—spirit, mind, soul or body when we ask for healing; he does touch us, though perhaps not in the way we asked him to. But it takes our faith to appreciate this. Ever more is being understood daily about the interaction of the mind and the body (for instance, in neuro-linguistic programming), so obviously our faith, and our positive self-talk has a role in continuing to seize and embrace this healing.
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I had been feeling unwell, and exhausted for the last couple of weeks. And so, as I went on my prayer walk, I prayed for God’s healing hands to reach into my inner being, and touch and heal me. I also prayed that they would reach into my spirit, emotions, mind and memory, and heal what hidden scars, wounds or memories might have contributed to my weight loss battle.
And I sort of felt his hands touch me. It was amazing. I came back feeling well and energized. The two week battle with a cough and exhaustion was over. I was happy.
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Apparently, the phenomenon of healing coming and going is not uncommon. A friend of mine has had chronic neck and back pain (undiagnosed, perhaps SPD) for years which gets better after prayer, and then relapses. What’s going on? Peter sunk once he took his eyes off Jesus, once his faith wavered. I wonder, if–once we take our eyes off Jesus, once our faith wavers, once our horrid negative sick-making self-talk begins—our healing also begins to fade.
I believe Jesus desires vibrant health for us, and I am going to keep my eyes on Jesus, and prioritise my health. It feels a bit self-indulgent, perhaps, but in this season of life, my physical, mental, intellectual, emotional and spiritual health all seem intertwined. My following of Jesus is intimately entwined with his call to make life-style changes to be physically stronger and healthy, and emotionally positive, and full of praise.J
|by Sharon George