read Luke 13. No matter how beautiful someone is, slumping impairs her looks. Standing tall doesn’t just make you look better, it makes you appear more confident: “the way you stand tells people volumes about who you are. Self-assured people walk tall and have a commanding presence when they enter a room — a presence that is both comfortable and confident.” Stand Up Straight! Stop Slouching! – Good Housekeeping. There are many reasons for slumping. Older people can be bowed over with osteoporosis. People who live with daily condemnation and criticism tend to slouch, too. Some people walk with a continual shrug, because they’re just waiting for the next verbal, or physical attack. Others slouch because they are workaholics, so honed in on their computer they seem to exist outside their bodies – until their back and neck pain forces them to remember they are creatures of flesh and blood.
So how do we stand up straight? Tucking in our stomach helps – but who can remember to do THAT 24-7? There seems to be a universal tendency toward slouching – like a form of spiritual gravity – and stopgap measures, like thinking “oops hold it I need to stand up taller!” don’t do the trick. We are, all of us, slouching toward Bethlehem, but we seem to be leaning in the wrong direction.
In Luke 13, Jesus helps a woman stand up straight by healing her of demonic possession. There’s a cause for slumping I never thought of. Do we slump because we’re demonically possessed? Do we still have demonic possession in this day and age? And if so, what does it look like?
I don’t know. I know the devil and alive and unwell. I know he attacks all of us. I have seen the way he can shroud people in fear, guilt, shame, hate, bitterness and envy. I have seen the way he cripples people. Can the devil enter and possess people? Should we have exorcists on retainer, like one wealthy eccentric I know?
All I know is that the story of Jesus healing the crippled woman resonates for me. Here’s the story: Jesus “saw a woman who had been crippled by an evil spirit. She had been bent double for eighteen year and was unable to stand up straight. When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said, ‘Dear woman, you are healed of your sickness!’ Then he touched her, and instantly she could stand straight. How she praised God!” Luke 13:10-13.
The woman had been bent double for 18 years? And suddenly she could stand up? I know only one thing. If Jesus could help that woman, He can help all of us.
There’s only one way to stand up straight. Ask for God’s help. It can be dramatic. It will be liberating. We can all stand up in the knowledge of God’s love, forgiveness, grace and mercy. In Christ’s love, we are all safe. We are free from the voice of condemnation that tells us we’re failures. We are free from judgment. We can walk and not grow weary. We can run and not faint. And who says we have to limit it to standing? In God’s love, we will rise up, as on eagle’s wings.
posted by Caroline Coleman in carolinecolemanbooks.com on January 25, 2012