I sat in the pew, taking notes, attentive to the pastor in front of me reading the story of a Canaanite woman’s encounter with Jesus (Matthew 15:21-28).
I confess the story is one I mostly glaze over, because it seems weird and uncharacteristic of Jesus. This day, God had primed my heart and mind to hear something new.
Prior to this moment in Scripture, Jesus had held conversations with people driven by religious achievement. He then encounters a woman in great need asking for mercy purely out of belief that He is the only one who can change her circumstance. But He responded so uniquely, throwing up obstacle after obstacle. He spoke hard words, and she persisted. She was determined that even a crumb from His hand would be enough to change her life. And He was delighted by her faith!
I imagine she had exhausted all other options, abandoning idols of her friends and family, desperate for any semblance of breakthrough. Nothing was working. Nothing was changing.
I can relate. I can relate to the madness of seeking deep peace and durable joy by ways not God. I can relate to the feeling of getting so close to freedom you can smell it, but never experience it work its way into your system. By grace, His Spirit is renewing us. I saw the reality of the gospel in full color that day: a life of faith, by way of God’s Spirit, is fixed on God and His perfect, crucified, resurrected, reigning Son – not self.
Like this woman encountered obstacles in her pursuit of Jesus, an obstacle to wholehearted surrender to Jesus I fight every day is self-reliance.