Sunday, December 19, 2010

Stepping into the Story

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to attend a retreat for ladies where we listened to a missionary to Thailand share some thoughts about getting more intimate with God.  I wasn't sure what to expect but I certainly wasn't disappointed!  Either I'm listening with new ears or I'd just never heard these particular thoughts before, but it was such a refreshing time to hear this woman speak to my heart in such a meaningful way.  At one point, she handed out journals for some writing time and to take notes...I picked one with pretty floral patterns and went to work, I love to write! 

We were encouraged to gain fresh insight into familiar Bible stories by stepping into the story, putting ourselves in the place of a biblical character to see if we could see anything differently.  This looks like...reading the story, imagining myself there hearing the sounds, smelling the smells, feeling the grass, the dust, the tears on my cheeks...and asking, What are the emotions I feel as I 'see' Jesus?  What is Jesus saying to me in the story? 

The speaker pointed out that all too often we read the Bible with our brains and don't really engage our other senses...but if we don't have an emotional experience with the story and truly enter into it, there will inevitably a disconnect between us and the Word.  And that's how it is, sometimes what I read in the Word is so familiar that it is dry and no longer fresh.  But the speaker pointed out that as we practice stepping into the story, it will become move alive...less about how we 'get it together' and more about how God reaches out to us. 

And right now, I'm all about that emotional connection to God...I've lived too many years with an emotional disconnect from God and I am excited not only about trying this with other passages, but sharing this idea with others as well.  Like with my kids. 

So here's what happened when I stepped into the story of the woman healed by Jesus in Mark 5:21-43.  It was a powerful experience for me, a precious one.  It still is, especially if I read it out loud.  I hope you enjoy it as well.

I am a woman who has suffered for many years...sick, tired and wasted.  I have spent so much time and energy and money in trying to find healing for my body. I have tried so many different ways to be healed and have suffered through so many different treatments from countless doctors.  It just seems so hopeless!  But then I hear about this man Jesus who heals the sick.  Could it be that he could heal me, too?  I go to where he is passing by just to catch a glimpse of him, but there are so many people!  I fight to get closer, but I know that even if I could approach him, I might not have the courage to ask this man to heal me.  Who am I but one poor, weak, insignificant woman?  They say that this man, this Jesus, is The Messiah!  He will never want to bother, then, with someone like me.  And besides, even if I did have the courage to ask him, he might just say no and I couldn't bear that. 

But then the thought occurs to me that maybe I don't need to ask him, maybe if I just touch his clothes, maybe that would be enough.  It might not work, but I have to try.  I'm that desperate to get well.  He'll never know, there are so many people could he possibly know that I've touched his robe?  I press forward in the crowd, but people are pushing on me from every side.  The noise from all the people shouting as they make their way through the street with Jesus is almost unbearable for me.  I use one last burst of my meager strength to surge forward.  I reach out my arm and my hand brushes the hem of his robe for just one second as he passes by.

And that is all it takes.  Time stands still and the world stops moving.  I feel a jolt of energy move up my arm from my fingertips and spread throughout my body.  I feel as light as a feather and I know immediately.  I am healed!  Everything comes back into focus and the sounds of the crowd reach my ears once again.  Full of joy and weeping with thankfulness I turn to go back home.

And then I hear the crowd go silent as Jesus asks, "Who touched me?"  I shrink back, hoping that he will not notice me and give up and move away.  But he doesn't leave and and his eyes keep searching the crowd.  He asks again, "Who touched me?"  What had I been thinking?  Of course Jesus would know that his power had healed me.  Trembling with fear, I push my way through the crowd.  I can't look at him and I just throw myself at his his mercy.  I expect him to rebuke me.  I am so afraid.  Will he take my healing away?

My story pours out of me through my tears, the years of suffering and the loss of my health and my life.  I beg him to forgive me for bothering him, since I know that he is so busy.  His hand on my shoulder stops the flow of words from my mouth and I dare to cast a glance up at him.  Jesus is looking down at me and to my surprise I see that he is not angry.  In fact, I can only see love and compassion in his eyes.  And then he speaks.  His voice rings out through the silence.  He says, "Daughter, your faith has healed you.  Go in peace and be freed from your suffering." 

Daughter?  He calls me daughter?  And no, that wasn't right, he healed faith is not enough, it is small and weak.  But Jesus said that my faith has healed me!  I don't understand...but I do understand that I am healed.  Jesus said it, too, I am HEALED! 

I don't get a chance to speak to him any more...messengers have come to tell him that Jairus' daughter is already dead.  I turn away in shame, thinking that if I hadn't stopped Jesus on his way to heal the girl then maybe he would have gotten there on time.  I return home sad, even though I am healed.  I weep over the death of that little girl, even wishing that she had been healed instead of me.  But then I hear the news, Jesus did heal that girl, brought her back from the dead!  My heart surges with joy again.  Surely Jesus is The Messiah, the Son of God!  And that means that it was the Son of God that healed me!  The Son of God cares about me!  A simple woman.  Surely he is a great God!  I bow my head in grateful worship. 

I know that I might never see Jesus again, but he will be a part of my life for as long as I live...for it is not my life that I live, but this is the life that Jesus gave to me.  I can do nothing less than live that life for him. 

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