Sometimes it’s hard to hear your own voice. Noise is everywhere. Inundated with information and opinions, it’s pretty easy to give up and tune it all out or go numb in the process. And sometimes it’s easy to just follow the voices of others and hope they are going in the right direction. But there is another way; there are other choices.
Once, having been asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, “The kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation, nor will people say ‘Here it is’ or ‘There it is’, because the kingdom of God is within you. – Luke 17:20-21
There is an interesting story about a group of people who had leprosy. The Scriptures say that these ten lepers met Jesus when he was walking along the border of Galilee and Samaria. They stood at a distance (leprosy being highly contagious) and hollered out for mercy. Jesus noticed them, and from this distance he instructed them to go show themselves to the priests. This was a requirement in order to be restored to the community. The priests had to check the leprosy and deem someone “clean” so the community would know it is safe to receive the person again.
The lepers had faith that Jesus could heal them; they called him by name – they knew who he was. And the response Jesus gave them had to be really good news in one sense, and really hard news in another. Leprosy was and is a disease that isolates people from community. The priests would be the ones to remove the person from the community and the ones to restore them. Going to show themselves to the priests was a huge risk and placed them in a very vulnerable position. If they were healed then it would be amazing. If not, they would be rejected yet again. It was when they followed this instruction to walk forward in faith that their healing came. They had to fully trust Jesus and just do what he said.
As they went along this way, they were healed. They had to live their faith by seeking out the Healer; asking for mercy; and then doing what Christ told them to do with complete trust and faith.
Then something surprising happens. One of the ten, the one who was actually a foreigner (a Samaritan), and probably the least likely to have a personal encounter with Jesus, was so overwhelmed when he realized he was healed that he went back to find him.
This one man honors something deep inside him even though
No one else comes with him.
Even though he is a “foreigner” and probably the least among the group because he was a Samaritan.
Even though he is healed and is not “required” to return to Jesus.
Even though approaching Jesus was probably crossing a cultural boundary.
But he does return! He comes back with complete reverence and gratitude for what has been given him in this healing. He comes back with praise and a voice. He comes back with a loud voice. His joy is overwhelming; he literally throws himself at the feet of Jesus and says, “thank you”.
And then Jesus reveals something to this man. Something he needs to know. Jesus says “Rise and go. Your faith has made you well.” The man is free to go on his way; to live; and to live fully! He learns that deep within him is hope. Deep within him is faith that God is real. Deep within him is a voice nudging him along the way to do the right thing. Even if he goes alone. Even if he doesn’t understand everything. Even if it means giving up other securities in order to hear and follow his own voice. That voice within him is placed there by the God who created him and breathed life into him. He just needs to honor it.
What helps you to hear the voice deep inside you; the voice that points you in the direction that leads to life? It will often be different from the crowd. Perhaps what we hear is even surprising to ourselves. Don’t be afraid. The kingdom of God is within you. Seek. Trust. Listen. Follow. Along the way more will be revealed.
God, we have a lot of noise in our world and in our minds. Please tune our ears to hear your voice above all others. Give us courage to honor your kingdom within us and to trust you enough to do the different thing. We love you, Lord, and we need you. Amen.
The story in Scripture (The Message)
The Next Voice Your Hear by Jackson Browne
Did you know that leprosy is curable? The American Leprosy Mission works on offering this cure and restoring people to their communities every day. Click on the Category “Nepal Mission Visit 2015” on my site to read about our mission visit to Nepal where this work is being done.
To learn more about the American Leprosy Mission: