I woke up the other night to discover that my arm was completely numb. I guess I slept on it. Anyway, the longer it remained numb, the more alarmed I became. Then I felt it... pins and needles. My arm was soon alive with billions of little pin pricks all over. As unbearable as that feeling is sometimes, it assured me that I was nevertheless feeling.
In Luke 17:11-19, we read about 10 men who had leprosy. It's a disease that can lead to permanent nerve damage in the extremities which leaves them numb. When this happens, it's possible for them to walk around with a deep puncture wound on their foot without ever realizing it. This in turn leads to infection which can result in amputation.
In biblical times, lepers were outcasts of society. Both their identities and lives were dictated by their disease. Jesus had pity on the 10 lepers in the story by healing them. His only requirement is that they go show themselves to the priests at the temple. After doing so, only one leper returns to express gratitude to Jesus for being healed. The other nine are nowhere to be found.
If we could, let us consider for a moment our own spiritual leprosy. Where are we numb to God at? Prayer life...the decisions we make...the stuff we watch...where there used to be passion for God, is there now apathy? Is our identity rooted in being a spiritual leper? In other words, are we allowing our lives to be defined by a bitter relationship, a tragic event from the past or a habitual sin?
The lepers saw their predicament and knew they were in need of help. So they asked and they received. What about us? Do we see the area in our life that has become numb towards God? Let us understand that the numbness didn't happen overnight. It happened gradually as we continually made choices that put God into the background of our life. Let us repent and seek to make Him first again in our lives. By doing so, God will bring the pins and needles back into those areas of our lives.
Also, when God does restore us from our spiritual leprosy, let us be grateful. Let's thank God more than once for what He has done and is doing in our lives. Don't be like the majority of the population who cries out to God when they're in trouble. When God comes through for them, they go right back on with their lives as if nothing ever happened. So in the story, we discover that 10 lepers were cured. However, only one was ever really cured. The other nine just didn't get it. I'm praying that we find ourselves increasingly grateful to God for what He has done, is doing and is going to do in our lives.
Dear God...let the pins and needles begin.
("From the Pulpit" is a weekly sermon provided by the clergy members of The Weirton Ministerial Association)