Spiritual Director · July 25, 2017

Devote #68

When programs become more important than relationships, we have a problem. Let me say that another way: when what we have planned; our routine, our service, is more important than people and personal ministry, things are going in the wrong direction. Let me explain.

One day Jesus was teaching in the synagogue. It was a Sabbath day, so a good many people would have been present, doing their religious expectation. One of the people there was a lady who for 18 years had a debilitating disease that left her totally bent over. For 18 years, instead of walking upright like most of us, she was forced to see life looking at the ground. The only way she could look up would have been to turn her head to one side. For 18 years that was her lot in life, but still you’ll notice she was in worship on the Sabbath day. Nothing was going to stop her from worshipping.

This was not just some hereditary disease passed on to her by her parents, for the Bible tells us it was an evil spirit that did this to her. Let me emphasize again – 18 years. She lived this way for 18 years. Many people saw her come and go. Many people saw her in the meeting place and ignored her. Many people, I’m sure, stared at her and watched with crossed-eyes, but none did anything to help her. Why? Because it wasn’t in the program.

But then…
“Jesus saw the lady…” Luke 13:12 CEV

Jesus noticed her. He noticed her and called her over to Him and spoke into her life. He said…
“‘You are now well.’ He placed His hands on her, and right away she stood up straight and praised God.” Luke 13:12-13 CEV

How awesome is that? Can you imagine her response? I’m not sure how you interpret in your mind what it means that she “praised God,” but my mind tells me she got a little loud, a lot jubilant, maybe even did a little dance for joy. She was free! She was released! She was happy!

But not everybody was happy. We read…
“The man in charge of the meeting place was angry because Jesus had healed someone on the Sabbath .” Luke 13:14 CEV

Isn’t that just typical of us. Jesus does something spectacular for someone and we don’t like it. It messes up our routine, our program. We had order until Jesus showed up and then He fouled everything up and went against the rules. We had everything planned out according to our customs and traditions, but Jesus threw a wrench into it. Why does He seem to do that all the time?

Here’s my word of encouragement for you today: Jesus is always more concerned about relationships than our programs. We should too! Invest in people like Jesus invested in you. And remember, “Relationships always comes before programs.”

Forgive me for the times I feel I need to stick to the program and overlook the needs of people. Jesus, in Your name I ask this, Amen.

Rev. Dr. MM Marxhausen

 | Website

Mark was Spiritual Director for VdC from 2016 to 2019. He's written many of the devotions, especially the Devote and Affirm series, found on this website.