Monday, August 5, 2013

Everyone Loves a Story Part 1 - Invisible No More!

At the New Wilmington Mission Conference (which you can read about in “Just Another Missionary), I had the opportunity to study the bible in a new and interactive way that God used to provide incredible insight and blessing which I want to share with you. So for the next five weeks, I will be sharing with you what I learned when I heard Scripture for the first time told to me by a wonderful storyteller as a story—a story in which we were able to step into and see and hear through the characters’ eyes and ears. I experienced Scripture through their perspective, their point of view, and received God message in a whole new way. I pray God blesses you anew through these old familiar stories.

Invisible No More!
Today, I heard a story that brought some very raw and unhappy feelings up in me. Jesus is on his way
to heal the dying child of a well-respected leader of the community when a woman who has been suffering for twelve years from bleeding, a social outcast because of her condition, sneaks into the crowd accompanying Jesus hoping to touch just his coat. After spending all she had on doctors who put her through who knows what kind of first century medical procedures in hopes of a cure and having that hope dashed time after time she decides, in desperation, to hope just one more time and seek out Jesus.

This is where the oh-so-familiar pain of loneliness rose up into my chest and my throat. I know too well from my childhood experiences what the loneliness of being a social outcast feels like and I know the pain that welled up in that woman's heart, even as she maneuvered her way through the crowd of neighbors and town folk, of being so alone and lonely in a crowd of people who at best ignored her and at worst chased her away from their company. She touches Jesus' clothes and immediately she is healed—the bleeding stops. This is what she had hoped for!

Did you ever wonder why she didn't just go up to him like everyone else and ask for healing? Why instead did she try to slip in and out of the crowd unnoticed? While we can't know for sure, my bet is that after a dozen years of being told she was a worthless, unclean sinner, irrelevant to God and society - she believed it. Why would Jesus bother with her especially when he was on his way to do something of such importance as healing the dying child of a prominent citizen? In her whole world, she wasn't worth the time or attention of anyone and she certainly wasn't worthy of Jesus' attention…or so she thought.

At once Jesus knew that power had gone out from him and he stopped, turned around and sought her out. "Who touched me," he asks. Seriously, Jesus! There is a crowd of people pressing in against you and there is a dying child who needs you now and you want to waste time with this. Who in this crowd didn't touch you?! That's what the disciples wanted to know.

Yet Jesus was most definitely serious. He asks again and keeps looking until the woman comes forward to confess that she is the one he is looking for. As she falls at his feet, she is trembling with fear—fear of attention, because in her world, attention equates only to degrading, hurtful remarks and threat of physical harm and fear of retribution for coming into their midst and "spreading her unclean cooties." But Jesus doesn't call her out to rebuke her, or even to take back his healing which some might say she stole from him, but to commend her for her faith and complete her healing by restoring her place in the community.

This is the part of the story that I love. He says to her, "Daughter, your faith has healed you." Daughter! Imagine with me for a moment being this woman and the first kind word you hear in twelve years, and possibly your whole life, is God calling you "child." No longer are you insignificant, invisible, unwanted and unworthy, but now you are recognized and confirmed as God's precious child. In this one word, he restored her dignity and bestows upon her a relevance far greater than anyone else in that crowd possesses. Her pain, physical, social, and spiritual, was important to Jesus. Even though he was a holy man, a well-known rabbi whose reputation of healing and teaching with authority preceded him—even though he was on a very important errand—her woes, her concerns, were important enough to him that he stopped and gave all his attention to her and her alone in the crowd of people that moments ago, didn't even know she was there.

Here's what I am walking away with—Jesus loves me and I should never be afraid to approach him with anything, with everything, no matter what it is. I'm not inconveniencing my Savoir or diverting God's attention from something more worthy or important. God is never too busy for me. If it's important to me—it important to him because I am important to him. I matter to God. I am loved and accepted for who I am and he will always respond to me seeking his holy presence and healing touch with open arms of grace and compassion and with his undivided attention.

You can read this story for yourself in Mark 5:24-34

2 comments:

Common Household Mom said...

I like this story. Thanks for the retelling!

Audrey said...

If it's important to me - it's important to Him because I'm important to Him. Wonderful!