June 23, 2007 – TheScroogeReport.com Post
GREG LAURIE – A NEW BEGINNING
Greg Laurie pastors Harvest Christian Fellowship (one of America’s largest churches) in Riverside, California. Laurie is also the founder of the Harvest Crusades.
Have you ever wished your life could change?
Perhaps you have made choices you regret.
You are facing the consequences of those decisions this very moment.
Is there any way to find help?
In the Bible, there’s a story about a man who believed that if an angel troubled a pool of water, and if he could somehow be the first to get into that water, then he would be healed. This man had been waiting for 38 years, unable to move. Perhaps he had been paralyzed by an accident. We just don’t know. But something happened in his life that brought this about.
Sometimes we get sick simply because we live in a sinful world. Disease and death were never part the plan. If Adam and Eve hadn’t sinned, there wouldn’t be any sickness. There wouldn’t be any aging. And most importantly, I would have a full head of hair!
But sometimes we fall ill because of our own personal wrongdoing.
Consider the person who has abused alcohol his entire life. One day, his liver goes out. Is there a connection between the lifestyle he has chosen and what has happened to him physically? Absolutely.
What about someone who goes out on a drunken binge, gets behind the wheel of a car and is injured in an auto accident? Is there a connection between the way she was living and the horrible thing that happened to her? Of course.
Or how about the person who is sexually immoral? He frequently engages in extramarital sex. Then he discovers he is HIV positive. Is there a connection between his lifestyle and this horrible virus he now has? The answer is yes.
There can be a connection between what we do and what happens to us. I’m not saying every person who has liver damage, has a car accident or contracts HIV/AIDS came into those circumstances because they sinned. In fact, sometimes they are the victims of someone else’s sin, like the person who is hit by the drunk driver, or the faithful mate who gets AIDS from her husband who has been unfaithful. But we do need to accept the fact that when we make our choices there will be consequences.
Still, the Bible tells us there are times when God allows sickness – physical and spiritual sickness – to teach us something. For example, when the apostle Paul experienced his “thorn in the flesh,” it wasn’t connected to any particular sin that we know of. Yet God allowed this suffering. Paul asked three times for God to take it away. But God’s answer was, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9). This would suggest that God allows sickness so he can show his people something we might not be able to see otherwise. Sometimes we are so stubborn and proud we think we don’t need God. So the Lord gets our attention. And suddenly we realize maybe we do need God after all.
Out of a crowd of sick and suffering people waiting for an angel to trouble the pool of water, Jesus selected one man. He didn’t preach to everyone. He didn’t heal everyone. He went to only one individual and asked a poignant, and in some ways unexpected, question: “Do you want to get well?”
Now what kind of question is that to ask a man like this? It’s not like he would have said, “No, I like hanging out here. This is just a lot of fun. You really ought to join me.” But Jesus was asking a legitimate question. It was an important question, because not everyone wants to be made well. Not everyone wants his or her life to change.
“Do you want to be made well?” Jesus asked this man. In other words, “Do you want to change your life, not just physically, but also spiritually? Are you willing to place yourself, just as you are, in my hands? Are you ready for me to do for you what you are unable to do for yourself?”
As long as we think we can work things out on our own, as long we think we will figure life out someday, we’ll never get anywhere. We need to call out to God and say, “Lord, I can’t do it on my own, but I am calling out to you and asking you to help me. I am asking you to forgive me.” If you will call out to Jesus Christ, then he will forgive you. If you are willing to turn from your sin, make a clean break with the past, and begin to follow him, then you will see things happen in your life that you never thought were possible.
This column is excerpted from Greg’s forthcoming Baker book called “Walking With Jesus.”