A few weeks ago I read the following brief story from the life of Jesus in Luke 5:12-16.
The phrase that stood out to me was the leper’s approach to Jesus, “Lord, if you are willing…”. I can identify with that phrase. I think I know what I want but I just don’t seem to know if God is willing to do it. Over the years He seems to do things in ways and for reasons that I don’t understand. My lack of clarity about who God actually is has direct implications to how I live day to day. So much of our lives and the way we think and react flows out of our perceptions and understandings of what God is like. What is he “willing” to do? Yet this story shows Jesus to be “willing”. He wants good for us, wants to heal and restore, to shape and refine our lives in ways that bring us closer to Himself. Why do I doubt that, or at the very least, why am I so timid in my understandings of who God is and what He cares about. The leper knew the power of Jesus, he knew that Jesus could heal him. His question was did Jesus want to. I think I wrestle with that myself too. Does Jesus want to do what I hope He wants to do. Is He willing to act in a given situation in a way that I hope He will.
This all comes back to knowing God, not in a “knowing about God” kind of way, but in an intuitive, relational way. A knowing that is guttural and deep and one that comes only from the experience of the person of Jesus. The interaction with Jesus helped the leper to know not just who, but how Jesus was. What Jesus was willing to do. It was that willingness to approach Jesus, that willingness to ask for help - “If you are willing…” - that enabled the leper to move from wondering if Jesus was willing to learning in a very tangible and life changing way that He was. The question then becomes, “Am I willing? Am I willing to engage with Jesus? Am I willing to risk the approach, to make the ask, to pursue the answer to the question no matter what it may be?” The goal that God is drawing us toward is a knowing by experience, and not just by facts that we have learned about God or perceptions we draw from His resume. The goal is to grow in our ability to intuitively know what God is willing to do, what He longs to do in our lives and through them.
How do we grow in that area? We ask. We move toward Jesus and we say,”If you are willing, would you…?” Then we wait and listen for His response. Jesus modelled this same thing with the Father just a few verses later.
This is how that intuitive knowing happens. We only know someone intuitively by time spent with them. Watching them, listening to them, seeing what makes them tick. As I wrote above, it is learning both who they are and how they are. It’s an experiential type of knowing and one that takes time. If we want to know what Jesus is willing to do, we learn that by time spent living in a relationship with him. There is no chapter summary or cliff notes for this process. It is a daily watching, filled with times of lonely places and prayer. But I can speak from experience, the more you see Jesus for who and how He is, the more captivating He becomes.