After more than a week of full-blown cold symptoms—painful sore throat, totally stuffed-up nose, throbbing headache, and complete lack of energy–I finally woke up feeling more like my old self.
Such euphoria! I could swallow without pain, take in glorious gulps of air through my nose, and function without the tight hat of sinus pressure on my head or the virtual suit of heavy armor on my body. Throat, nose, head, and limbs were once again operating in unified wholeness!
But what if I still carried deep heartache, suffered from depression, or continually dealt with on-going stress at work? Relief of cold symptoms would be a small matter by comparison.
Unified wholeness must include mind and spirit as well as body.
This was the kind of completeness Jesus was referring to when he told a healed leper, “Arise, go your way: your faith has made you whole (Luke 17:19, King James 2000 Bible).
You no doubt remember him, the one-out-of-ten healed lepers who took an extra step beyond healing, returned to Jesus, and expressed his gratitude.
Such effort demonstrated a spirit of humility and righteousness as he set aside his own agenda and did the right thing. His faith had impacted his body, yes, but also his mind and spirit.
The leper’s wholeness* manifested holiness—not perfection or proud piousness—but completeness and health of the total person as God fully intended.
Thomas Carlyle (1795-1881) explained it like this:
“The old word for holy in the German language, heilig, also means healthy. And so Heilbronn means holy-well, or healthy-well. You could not get any better definition of what holy really is than healthy—completely healthy.”
Wholeness is holiness, and God is our example. He is the picture of complete perfection with the sum of his glorious attributes: love, joy, peace, wisdom, and more.
By contrast, we are pictures of imperfection, with our deficient condition and inability to perfect ourselves on our own.
Yet God comes to us, arms outstretched in welcome, and says, “Your faith can make you whole.” We can turn to him like that one leper did, and he will begin the work of making us like him.
Oh, that sounds wonderful! Just as I desperately want to be made whole when a cold wreaks havoc in my body, so I want to be made whole as sin wreaks havoc in my spirit.
But such transformation involves choices.
During a cold, the choices of rest and plenty of fluids will speed the healing process toward wholeness.
My mental and spiritual wholeness this side of heaven will also require at least two choices:
- “Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always” (1 Chronicles 16:11, NIV).
- Distill the positive out of the negative—goodness out of evil, peace out of pain, joy out of sorrow.
And from the fullness of Jesus’ grace we will receive one blessing after another (John 1:16)—beginning with his power and wisdom to make these sound choices toward wholeness.
* * * * * * * * * *
Oh Father, sound choices are easy to talk about, not so easy to live out. Remind me that from your wholeness, you provide grace upon grace—if only I look to you. Help me turn away from fear, self-pity, and anger, which lead to brokenness, not wholeness. How I praise you for your good will toward me and the good work of restoration you continue to develop within me!
*Synonyms from Webster’s New College Dictionary include: health, restoration, healing, and completeness.