Sisters: My Jesus

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Gentle Reader,

While He was going, the crowds were nearly crushing Him. A woman suffering from bleeding for twelve years, who had spent all she had on doctors and yet could not be healed by any, approached from behind and touched the end of His robe. Instantly her bleeding stopped.

“Who touched me?” Jesus asked.

When they all denied it, Peter said, “Master, the crowds are hemming You in and pressing against You.”

“Someone did touch Me,” said Jesus. “I know that power has gone out from Me.” When the woman saw that she was discovered, she came trembling and fell down before Him. In the presence of all the people, she declared the reason she had touched Him and how she was instantly healed. “Daughter,” he said to her, “your faith has saved you. Go in peace.”

– Luke 8:42b-48 (CSB, emphasis mine)

Lemme tell you about my Jesus.

He is the King of Kings. He is the Lord of Lords. He is fully God and fully Man. He alone can save. He literally lived, died, and rose again. One day He will return. Until that day, He sends His Spirit out into the world, indwelling those who call upon His name and drawing those who do not into decision moments, clearly revealing Himself to them. He holds all of creation together. He is the power that sets the captive free. He is the comfort that soothes the brokenhearted. He is the grace for the chief of sinners.

My Jesus is strong, but tender. Has all authority, but longs to hold people close. Judges rightly, but takes no pleasure in the separation of anyone from Himself. Possesses a voice that booms like thunder, but also speaks in the quietest whisper. Exists outside of time, but operates within its scope. Eyes aflame and hair whiter than snow. Sits, because the work is finished. There is none like Him.

My Jesus is awesome.

People say I’m foolish and weak for believing. I don’t care, because I know my Jesus. I know what He has done for me. No, my body does not work right and probably won’t this side of Eternity. But my Jesus, He’s done something much greater. More important. In a moment, He justified me. He claimed me as His own. Saved me. Across a lifetime, however long or short it may be, He sanctifies me. Teaches me to live like He does. Transforms me into the person He wants me to be.

The reason I reach out to Jesus, the reason I touch Him?

Because I need Him. I am lost, I am nothing, without Him. I cannot function apart from Him.

He set me free, right when I took the breath for the cry meant only for His ears. Instantly. I did not recognize it, and sometimes still choose to rush back to my jail cell. But the door is open, never to be closed again, because no one can close what He has opened. Patiently, lovingly, He helps me to keep moving forward, even after I’ve gone backward. I do not deserve His grace and mercy, yet He continues to offer it. I am His beloved, His child, His daughter, His friend.

I love my Jesus. Not perfectly. Not even well at times. But love Him nonetheless. Because He first loved me.

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For all posts in the Sisters series, go here.

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Sisters: Trembling

Along the Way Graphic Template

Gentle Reader,

While He was going, the crowds were nearly crushing Him. A woman suffering from bleeding for twelve years, who had spent all she had on doctors and yet could not be healed by any, approached from behind and touched the end of His robe. Instantly her bleeding stopped.

“Who touched me?” Jesus asked.

When they all denied it, Peter said, “Master, the crowds are hemming You in and pressing against You.”

“Someone did touch Me,” said Jesus. “I know that power has gone out from Me.” When the woman saw that she was discovered, she came trembling and fell down before Him. In the presence of all the people, she declared the reason she had touched Him and how she was instantly healed. “Daughter,” he said to her, “your faith has saved you. Go in peace.”

– Luke 8:42b-48 (CSB, emphasis mine)

It’s strange, to be sick. Almost as if your personality becomes fractured along with the bones and the organs. Part of you wants to talk about what you’re dealing with all the time, never pausing to take a breath. The other part doesn’t want to say a word, for fear of others’ accusatory questions and curious stares.

Stranger still, you get used to the strangeness. As much as I would love to have more energy, stop passing out randomly, get rid of the constant pain in my side, stop taking a handful of pills each night, and never deal with nausea again, it’s…normal. We humans have quite the capacity to accept, adapt, and adjust, if we choose. I’ve reached a point where I don’t like what I face each day, but I’m in the routine of it.

Familiarity.

When others read this passage, they wonder why she was afraid to come forward. Her actions make perfect sense to me. She’d been desperate for healing. She pushed her way through a crowd of people just to graze her fingertips against the hem of Jesus’ robe. She broke cultural expectations and norms. She was brave. Daring. Radical.

Her mind probably swirled with questions.

Was it real? Had this truly happened? Would it last?

Would Jesus be mad at her? Would He rebuke her? What would everyone in the crowd think of her?

The deepest one of all: What was she supposed to do now?

Even if you’ve never been truly sick a day in your life, you know that the misery to which you are accustomed is less frightening than the freedom to which you are not. You might complain and grumble, and even loathe the rut that you travel in, but at least you know what to expect. When something changes, especially if that something is a Someone and He’s beckoning you to climb out of that rut and go run across a wild, untamed field with Him, you try to hide. I don’t know a single person who doesn’t initially react this way; fear is rooted in our nature.

Jesus doesn’t just want to know who touched Him. He doesn’t just want to discuss the physical restoration. Now that He has pieced together her brokenness, she has to live in the newness. She is responsible to do something with what she’s been given.

Scary. So scary.

Such a beautiful portrait of the Savior’s love.

The poor patient owns her case, and the benefit she had received: When she saw that she was not hid, she came, and fell down before Him… The consideration of this, that we cannot be hid from Christ, should engage us to pour out our hearts before Him, and to show before Him all our sin and all our trouble.

Matthew Henry

Throughout the Gospels we see that acts of physical healing are meant to point to the inauguration of God’s Kingdom and the forgiveness of sin. Yes, she was healed, and that was important, but her body would betray her again one day. As she stepped forward, trembling, she stepped into the embrace of Christ, the One who would not abandon her in the anxiety of newness nor in the eventual return to decay and dust. She stepped into the crowd that day in desperation. She then steps forward, casting herself at His feet, in awe.

Her emotions, I feel them. I can place myself in this scene. In fact, this moment plays out now, in my living room, in 2019, despite the lack of physical health. My body spins toward its end faster than I’d like, but my God, He is faithful. That is what she learned in this moment. He is good and perfect and pure and true.

Even when He says “no” to whispered pleas for physical relief.

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For all posts in the Sisters series, go here.

Sisters: He Knows

Along the Way Graphic Template

Gentle Reader,

While He was going, the crowds were nearly crushing Him. A woman suffering from bleeding for twelve years, who had spent all she had on doctors and yet could not be healed by any, approached from behind and touched the end of His robe. Instantly her bleeding stopped.

“Who touched me?” Jesus asked.

When they all denied it, Peter said, “Master, the crowds are hemming You in and pressing against You.”

“Someone did touch Me,” said Jesus. “I know that power has gone out from Me.” When the woman saw that she was discovered, she came trembling and fell down before Him. In the presence of all the people, she declared the reason she had touched Him and how she was instantly healed. “Daughter,” he said to her, “your faith has saved you. Go in peace.”

– Luke 8:42b-48 (CSB, emphasis mine)

Isn’t it funny, the things we think about God? The things we assume about Him?

Like He doesn’t know. Doesn’t notice.

I find great comfort in knowing that He sees the tears that I cannot cry in front of others. This makes little sense to some. Wouldn’t it be better for Him to remove the source of the tears? How can I love a God who answers my prayers with “no?”

My friend Andrew is dying; a long, slow, painful death from pancreatic cancer. I don’t know why God has chosen not to heal him. I don’t know why he’s had to suffer such torture. As I’m sure I’ve said, probably more than once, in this series, the “why” isn’t always the point. Sometimes, it’s the “what.” In Andrew’s case, his faith burns brightly against the black backdrop of adversity, drawing all who come across his words to look and see. To marvel at such intense faith in the middle of such suffering.

He writes:

I believe that there is a purpose to this, that it is part of God’s plan. I can’t see it, and I don’t know what part I may be playing, but I choose to believe that there IS a reason for the ordeal.

And I’ll play my part. God will remember my name.

Andrew knows that God knows. He knows that God is right there, holding him tightly as the agony shakes his very bones. He knows that one day, sooner than he or the rest of us would like, he will look God in the face. He knows that what he endures now will suddenly become a distant memory, not worth thinking about when compared to the glory and peace of Eternity.

There’s nothing fatalistic or morbid in that.

There’s faith.

Andrew encourages and inspires me. His example helps me to remember that God is also with me. He knows. He sees. He understands.

So when I need to cry, when I just can’t handle the pain any longer, I do it in His presence. I know He won’t judge or reject me. I know He won’t try to offer me the latest medical treatment, science-based or otherwise. He simply sits with me, the essence of empathy, love, and truth. And those things are power, you know. It’s not just the miracle of Divine healing. It’s the miracle of faith anchored deep in the Person of Jesus. The miracle of a life transformed, bit by bit and certainly slowly, into one that pleases Him.

Do I hate God? Do I despite Him?

No.

I look at the scar on my belly and feel the swelling in my side, and I love Him more – because He felt the pain of a broken body. He felt the sting of torn skin. He felt the strangeness of malfunctioning organs. Whatever aches plague me, He felt them, too, as He hung on the cross for those long hours. His body, broken for me, whose body is broken.

There’s something wonderful in that.

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For all posts in the Sisters series, go here.

Sisters: The Better or the Bitter

Along the Way Graphic Template

Gentle Reader,

While He was going, the crowds were nearly crushing Him. A woman suffering from bleeding for twelve years, who had spent all she had on doctors and yet could not be healed by any, approached from behind and touched the end of His robe. Instantly her bleeding stopped.

“Who touched me?” Jesus asked.

When they all denied it, Peter said, “Master, the crowds are hemming You in and pressing against You.”

“Someone did touch Me,” said Jesus. “I know that power has gone out from Me.” When the woman saw that she was discovered, she came trembling and fell down before Him. In the presence of all the people, she declared the reason she had touched Him and how she was instantly healed. “Daughter,” he said to her, “your faith has saved you. Go in peace.”

– Luke 8:42b-48 (CSB, emphasis mine)

Peter, I think, is all of us.

How could Jesus ask who touched Him? The crowd was thick. Nobody in the immediate vicinity was owning up to the act. They had places to go, people to see. I imagine Peter not exactly irritated, but definitely wondering why Jesus was wasting time with this question.

We wonder, too. Why does God do this? Why does He do that? Or why doesn’t He?

Because we don’t quite get it. We don’t quite understand that He is the One who sets the agenda.

Maybe that’s why there’s a tangible peace surrounding those saints who have walked with Jesus for many years. Their hair glitters, shot through with white threads. Their skin sags and wrinkles, evidence of laughter and tears. Their lives, filled with good and bad. The days long but the years so fast. The time they have left on earth winds down.

One such woman sits in my church’s second row every Sunday. Grandma Betty, we call her. She’s 90-something-years-old. She smiles brightly, a twinkle in her eye and mischief in her step. Loves to give hugs. Rocks out to the old hymns. She is utterly, completely herself, unapologetic and un-self conscious. Above all, Grandma Betty brings Jesus into the room with her. She is confident in His loving care.

I want to be like her.

Peter, traditionally thought to have been martyred around 64 A.D., didn’t live to a ripe old age, but he got to that place of tranquility. We see it begin by the lake, at breakfast time:

When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he tied his outer clothing around him (for he had taken it off) and plunged into the sea. …

When they had eaten breakfast, Jesus asked Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?”

“Yes, Lord,” he said to him, “You know that I love You.”

“Feed My lambs,” He told him. A second time He asked him, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?”

“Yes, Lord,” he said to Him, “You know that I love You.”

“Shepherd my sheep,” He told him.

He asked him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?”

Peter was grieved that He asked him the third time, “Do you love Me?”He said, “Lord, You know everything; You know that I love you.”

“Feed my sheep,” Jesus said.

– John 21:7, 15-17

Desperate was Peter to see Jesus again. Desperate, too, I think, to prove to his Master that the denials weren’t actually denials, as revealed in his grief. He got caught up in the fear of the moment, and he hated himself for that. He didn’t actually mean it. He really did love Jesus. He truly did want to follow and obey.

Brokenness comes between wondering why God does or doesn’t and being at peace. In the middle, when the pressure builds and the crowd presses in, we have a choice to make: the better or the bitter. His way or our way. Resting in the grace of mystery or reaching for a control that’s continually just beyond grasping.

Brokenness invites faith.

Peter is an example. He could have stayed lost in his shame. That’s what many of us choose to do. He could have remained stuck in his wondering. Many also choose this as well. Instead, he let Jesus change him. He took the Savior’s offered hand and allowed Him to rebuild, remold, reshape.

Isn’t the Bible beautiful? I’ve read this passage I don’t know how many times and I’ve never before considered Peter. But God, He doesn’t just impact one life. His work always touches the many. I don’t think it’s too far out there to believe that Peter thought back on this moment and shook his head, small smile playing across his face. Why did Jesus ask that question? Because it was part of her miracle, part of an interaction that Peter would never fully understand.

I want to be like Peter. I want the pain I feel to drive me from the boat of comfortable complacency and into the water, beating against the waves that would keep me from Jesus. Yes, my dear, my faith is real. I don’t need “more” of it in order to be healed. I know that my healing, whether in this life or the next, is found in the arms of Jesus, the same Lord who restored and strengthened Peter that long ago day.

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For all posts in the Sisters series, go here.