Lessons from the Lepers



Give thanks to the LORD for he is good; his love endures forever. –1 Chronicles 16:34 NIV

Tucked away in the Gospel of Luke is the account of Jesus healing ten lepers—nine verses that we may read, think we got the main idea, and move on.

Much is said about the one who, when he realized he’d been healed, returned to Jesus, threw himself down at His feet, and thanked Him.

But let’s not dismiss the other nine as totally ungrateful. Instead let’s take a closer look at this miracle—and what we can learn from it.

First, all ten lepers were in a difficult, impossible situation.

Today leprosy can be treated, but in biblical times it was a death sentence. It changed your life—you no longer had a life, except as an outcast to be shunned. You were forbidden to be in contact with family and friends. If you sneezed or coughed on someone, you’d transmit the incurable disease to them. So you were avoided at all costs.

Leprosy disfigured you. Its stench was nauseating, disgusting, and repulsive—and so were you. You lived your life as a pariah, shouting “Unclean! Unclean!” to warn others not to get near you.

So you wouldn’t be alone, you joined other lepers and wandered about the countryside, a mere beggar because you could no longer earn your livelihood and support your family. You were dependent on the mercy of others, who would slip you money or food to help you survive. You had no pride left.

Your only hope was a miracle, and the only One who performed miracles was an itinerant rabbi, the controversial Jesus of Nazareth. But, hey, He was your only chance. What could you lose if you tracked Him down and asked?

Do you find yourself in difficult circumstances? Remember, God specializes in the impossible. He wants to help you in your circumstances. They aren’t too difficult for Him. All you have to do is ask—and you don’t even have to track Him down because He’s with you all the time (Hebrews 13:5, Matthew 28:20).

Second, when they asked for mercy (translate: miracle), Jesus told them to do something.

No words of healing were spoken. No curing touch given. Just a command to “go, show yourselves to the priests”—the normal procedure the Jew was to follow when his leprosy was gone.

They didn’t question. They didn’t argue. They probably didn’t understand the command—but they obeyed.

“And as they went,” Luke tells us, “they were miraculously healed and made clean” (Luke 17:14 AMP).

Remember, although only one returned to say thank you, all ten obeyed. Sometimes God asks you to do something that doesn’t make sense and that you don’t understand. Obedience is prerequisite to the miracle.

Third, all ten had faith enough to ask and faith enough to obey, even though at the start of their walk to show themselves to the priests, there was no change in their condition. Their faith wasn’t in what they could see, in their appearance, or in anything tangible.

“Faith comprehends as fact what cannot be experienced by the physical senses” (Hebrews 11:1 AMP).

Where are you putting your faith? In what you can see, hear, and experience with your physical senses?

Or in the promises of a God

Take a lesson from the lepers:

Ask. Obey. Believe. Receive. And then rejoice.

How awesome, Father God, that there is more to thank You for than to ask You for! Amen.

Read and meditate on Luke 17:11–19

© 2017 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.


Semper Paratus

This display is comprised of gloves used by the smokejumpers.

Always be ready! —Matthew 25:13 CEV

One of the highlights of our month-long trip to the Pacific Northwest this past summer was touring the North Cascades Smokejumper Base in Winthrop, Washington.

These amazing firefighters, who parachute into remote areas to combat wildfires, must be ready at all times to respond quickly and efficiently. When the air horn sounds, they have two minutes to suit up in their gear, which includes pants, jacket, harness, reserve parachute, main parachute, helmet, gloves, and personal fire pack. Their goal is to be in the air, en route to the fire, within 15 minutes of being dispatched.

The key is to always be ready.

Their suits hang in the parachute loft in such a way that all they have to do is back into them. Parachutes, paracargo (supplies dropped from the aircraft via parachute), personal gear bags, and 100-pound backpacks are all ready to go.

The smokejumpers are semper paratus—always ready.

Semper paratus, the motto of the US Coast Guard, would be a good motto for each of us. Because we need to be always ready for anything, planned or unplanned, that drops itself in our laps.

While I love serendipity and spontaneity—they add excitement and fun to life—they are the exception, rather than the rule. I need order and organization. They are my keys to survival. Without them, chaos reigns. And with chaos come stress, anxiety, worry, waste of time and resources, and, often, disaster.

This coming Saturday our house will be filled with family gathering together to celebrate Thanksgiving. Eleven people, ranging in age from seven to 68, and two dogs (including Tucker, the hyperactive pup who chews everything in sight), will spend the weekend under our roof and share a Thanksgiving meal.

This takes planning—from meals to snacks to who sleeps where to games to bathroom time to keeping Tucker out of trouble.

When the first car drives up, I have to be ready.

This involves lots of planning, preparing, and praying.

I’ve made lists of things to do, groceries to buy, who will prepare and bring what dishes. I’ve scheduled which rooms to clean on which days next week.

Once my plans are in place, it’s time to begin preparing.

Sometimes the unexpected upends the whole apple cart. “The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry” (Robert Burns). Then what? I go to Plan B. If that doesn’t work, Plan C.

If all else fails, I pray.

But prayer isn’t last-minute grasping at straws when things go wrong. It’s a part of every phase of semper paratus. Pray when you plan. Pray as you prepare. But most important, pray ahead. You don’t know what the day will bring.

I pray ahead every morning when I wake up. Before I even throw back the covers, I ask God for wisdom and discernment, for guidance in the problems I’ll face and the decisions I’ll make. I don’t know what those problems and decisions will be. But God does.

I need God beside me, every moment of the day, for the big things and the little things. Without Him, all my plans and preparations come to naught.

What about you—are you always ready for what’s on your agenda? For the unpredictable?

Are you semper paratus?

Help me, Omniscient Father, to be always ready for anything that will come my way. Help me to plan and to prepare for the expected and the unexpected. Only with Your help can I navigate the unpredictable waters of life. Amen.

Read and meditate on Matthew 25:1–13

© 2017 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.