The Chosen and My ‘Yes’ to Healing

“Who here has watched The Chosen? Raise your hand.”

Dan Burke looked expectantly at the audience. I glanced at his wife, Stephanie, sitting beside me. She smiled.

I had not raised my hand.

Why hadn’t I watched The Chosen? I tried a few times and only managed to watch the first few episodes before turning it off in frustration and wondering what all the fuss was about. But now, something was stirring in my heart. A voice whispered that I needed to go home and watch this. My heart felt different. I felt different.

I watched with a new intensity as Mary Magdalene wrestled with the demons that would overtake her. I watched, almost holding my breath, as she stood at the cliff’s edge because I, too, had been at the “edge of the cliff” many times. I felt her desperation and her despair. Feelings that were all too familiar but now felt very distant and in the past.

I felt her fear. Her exhaustion. Her hopelessness. I saw myself in her.

Then, finally, at her lowest point, a hand reached out to stop her. She looked up. As the camera focused on the face of Jesus for the first time, I burst into tears.

That face.

How I longed to see His face. All those years where I was drowning in despair, circling the drain. In and out of hospital. I was trying to rely on my strength; all I needed was Him.

As Mary ran out of the public house, she cried “Leave me alone,” with anguish back to Him.

I reflected on those numerous times that I have run from Jesus and have tried to hide myself from him. Full of shame and fear, I had no comprehension of what I was hiding from. But then He called her by her name, “Mary. Mary of Magdala.” and the alabaster jar is dropped and smashed open.

I feel my connection with Mary Magdalene grow and consider it a precious gift that I was born on her feast day.

I continued to watch each episode because I want to see Him. I want to see His face. As the scenes and storylines unfold, I am again brought to a moment where I sit with bated breath, watching His face and taking in every word.

“Do you want to be healed?” “Say yes!” I wanted to shout at the paralytic man by the pool. “Just say yes.” The paralytic man looks up at Jesus. “Will you take me to the pool?” Jesus shakes his head. “No.” “Look, I have been having a bad day.” The paralytic tells Jesus. “You have been having a bad day for a long time,” Jesus responded. I repeat that line to myself. Yes. I, too, had been having bad days for a very long time. I circled the drain repeatedly, getting nowhere and falling into the black pit of darkness. Nothing was changing. I was like the paralytic at times, not being able to move and not being able to get out of bed both due to physical and psychological reasons.

“So?” Jesus asks. “So I have no one to help me to the water when it’s stirred up, and when I do get close, the others step down in front of me!” the paralytic responds in frustration, tears in his eyes.

“Look at me. Look at me. That’s not what I asked.” Jesus says gently. “I am not asking you about who’s helping you or who’s not helping. Or who’s getting in your way? I am asking about you.” The scene continues, and Jesus once again asks the question. “So, do you want to be healed?”

Every time I watch this scene, it brings me to tears. It brings me back to my journey and healing that has been taking place in the last couple of years.

Do I want to be healed? Of course, my answer was always a yes. But it was a superficial, non-committal yes.

While I was seriously struggling, I was also too comfortable being a victim.

It was all I had known for years. For the majority of my whole life. If I was a victim, then nobody would expect anything from me. I would not be held accountable for anything. Though my physical and psychological struggles were a constant and painful challenge, it was my normal.

I felt comfortable in my normal.

Anything else left me feeling exposed and vulnerable.

But through His love and mercy, God allowed things to get to the point where the only thing left to do was cry out to God.

Nothing else worked.

Medication, doctors, nothing helped. The critical difference, this time, when I cried out to Him was that I was determined and willing to do anything He asked of me that would lead to my healing.

Two weeks later, God sent me someone to walk this journey with me. Twelve months later, I am on an airplane flying to the UK to attend a Grief to Grace retreat.

I had to let go of the victimhood mentality and take responsibility for myself. I had to stop allowing myself to “fall” through life, allowing things to happen to me, and then wonder why I kept circling the drain.

“You only need me. So, do you want to be healed?” 

Oh, my Lord Jesus, yes! A thousand times over and more. I know that all I need is Him.

But once that alabaster jar was broken and I gave Jesus my “yes,” everything else faded into the past, and the grace to understand and accept that my sufferings and physical and psychological limitations are not a hindrance and do not limit my “yes.”

If anything, they enhance my “yes” and expand my limitations to limitless. My suffering is a blank canvas, and my “yes” allows the Lord to turn it into an unrepeatable, breathtaking, priceless work of art. A masterpiece that contributes to building the kingdom of heaven, which radiates beauty beyond our wildest imagination.

But it has to begin with my “yes.” If I want Jesus to pick up that paintbrush to paint the first stroke, I must give Him my complete “yes.”

And so last night, I watched a scene in which Little James asked Jesus in tears why He hadn’t healed him. I had often asked myself, “Why hasn’t Jesus healed me?” Why can’t I have that miraculous healing and wake up and run one day?! To go for long walks without the risk of passing out.

While watching this scene, the understanding and realization finally fell into place. Jesus wants an original masterpiece. One that will draw people to Him so they may experience the love and hope I have experienced through Jesus.

Jesus has turned my suffering around and has made it part of His salvation for the world. My sickness, my trauma, abuse, mental health struggles, all of it. He is using it for the greater good. People will know His goodness and love through His work through my past and suffering.

“In the Father’s will, I could heal you right now, and that would make a good story…but think of the story that you have, especially in this journey to come if I don’t heal you.” Jesus gently explains to Little James.

Little James responds to Jesus with tears, “But that doesn’t make this any easier… it doesn’t make me feel any less of a burden.”

Burden. That word pierces my heart, and I, too, want to cry with Little James. How much I have struggled feeling like a burden. The harsh, cruel words and actions of people have left me feeling like a heavy burden to those around me. I will admit that I thought this so intensely that I sometimes felt my life worthless. That I was worthless. I allowed my health problems to become my identity. I didn’t know that my true identity was far more significant and that it would be found through Jesus Christ. I didn’t know that through Jesus Christ, I was capable of something more than what this world has to offer and that Jesus was calling me to a life of prayer rooted in the sacraments of the catholic church while surrounded by community.

And so I reflect on my question, “Why haven’t I watched The Chosen?” and I know my answer.

My alabaster jar hadn’t been broken. My heart was still hard, and I was shamefully holding Jesus at arms-length, trying to avoid Him. My heart wasn’t open, so I could truly hear the words spoken by Him. My wounds were too deep, and I was still focusing too much on myself instead of Jesus.

Unforgiveness and resentment were paralyzing me. The darkness was suffocating as the demons were constantly on my back. Like Mary Magdalene, I was very much in the pit, and like the paralytic man, no matter how hard I tried, I was unable to move on my own.

Through a moment of healing prayer, Jesus stood before me. A question was posed to me. “Do you choose satan’s way of unforgiveness or God’s way?” It was my moment of truth. Jesus stood there with bated breath, waiting for my answer. “I choose Jesus.”

In that pivotal moment, my alabaster jar was smashed wide open.

I fell into His embrace as I allowed the healing to take over. A sense of peace and hope now enveloped me.

Jesus not only saved me from the edge but also called me by name claimed me as His, asked me if I wanted to be healed, and then gave me my dignity and worth. He gave me freedom and a purpose. Jesus went back into my past and healed areas where I didn’t even know I needed to be healed. He has made me whole. He pointed His finger at me and said, “I choose you.”

He chose me.

He has chosen all of us. We are His chosen people. All of us are uniquely, unrepeatably, and individually created to glorify Him. He will always choose us. Not because he needs us but because He loves us. It is we who need Him to pull us out of our muck. To be chosen by Jesus means salvation, freedom, healing, unconditional love, fulfillment and peace. It means that even though the world may reject us we still belong to Him. He will not abandon us. It is through Jesus that we discover where and to whom we belong


Image courtesy of Unsplash

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