Thursday, September 03, 2009

Stepping Out In Faith

"So Jesus went with him.

A large crowd followed and pressed around him. 25And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years. 26She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse. 27When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, 28because she thought, "If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed." 29Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering.

30At once Jesus realized that power had gone out from him. He turned around in the crowd and asked, "Who touched my clothes?"

31"You see the people crowding against you," his disciples answered, "and yet you can ask, 'Who touched me?' "

32But Jesus kept looking around to see who had done it. 33Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth. 34He said to her, "Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering." Mark 5:24-34

I've been reading the references in the Bible to this specific miracle that Jesus did. It also happens to be in Matthew chapter 9, and Luke chapter 8, if anyone is so inclined. There are so many passages in the Bible that talk about the healings that Jesus did, but this one really strikes me as something special because of the incredible faith of this woman.

Let's think on her for a minute. She has been having issues of blood for twelve years. I don't know what that specifically means, but we can speculate that maybe it was a reproductive issue- maybe she was constantly having her period. Maybe she was a hemophiliac, where if she received a cut, it wouldn't stop bleeding for a very long time. Maybe it was a form of leukemia, or other cancer of the blood, or one of the many rare bleeding diseases Dr. House would find. We don't really know. But what we do know is that she suffered for twelve years from this problem. In those times, in those days, doctors did what they could, of course, but a disease of the type we're talking about would most likely result in some form of seclusion. I will bet you that this woman spent her entire time with this illness alone. I will bet that she lived alone, and that she didn't have any neighbors to check in on her. The lepers were always cast out of society to live in their own little colonies, and I'll bet this woman had similar restrictions- such as, no going out in public.

Yet here she was, in the streets, trying to reach Jesus. Just thinking about this, just thinking about the step of faith that she was taking in being out in public gives me goosebumps! This woman was not supposed to be there. At any moment, someone could recognize her, and then who knows what would have happened to her- death perhaps for putting a community at risk. Certainly there would be some sort of persecution. But she heard of this Jesus, and she heard that He healed the sick, and there was no way she was going to miss an opportunity to be free of the disease that had ruined her life. And then, not only did she go out in public, but she pressed in! She pressed into this crowd of people, not giving up, because she wanted to touch Jesus, because she knew that she would be healed if she could only touch him. I just want to pause for a minute, because think about what would have happened had she not been healed. I'm thinking going out in public was one thing, but pressing into the crowd- she would have been cast out, and likely stoned for sure. She was risking certain death, but she had such a great faith in this man they were calling Jesus to heal her, that she risked all to be well again.

This woman's faith was so great that when she did finally manage to touch the very edge of Jesus's cloak, Jesus felt it. He felt her faith and felt her draw the healing balm right out of him. She was healed instantly. At that moment, she could have ran home and no one would have known, but then she chose to share what had happened to her. When Jesus asked who touched him, she could have fled the scene, and no one would have really known, because so many people were pressing into Jesus. But she came forward. She trembled and knelt before Jesus, knowing full well that she could be punished for even being in public. She told Him what she had done, and He confirmed to her what she already knew- that she had been healed. Only this time, everyone around heard. Everyone there in the crowd knew that this woman had been healed of her issue of blood, and she now had a multitude of witnesses to back up what she already knew in her heart and mind. Imagine the testimonies afterwards for that one!

Every time I read this, in whichever book I read it in, I am so in awe of this woman's desperation. It really makes me wonder about the world we live in today. Every once in a while we will hear of a revival breaking out somewhere, or of a church where miracles happen sometimes, and one would think that upon hearing that, the natural progression would be to run towards the miraculous. If I had a terrible or terminal disease and I heard that there was a chance I could go to a particular church and come away healed- wouldn't I want to go? Yet people don't today! They don't run towards that healing because... Well, I don't know why they don't. Why don't they? I think it's because people don't realize what it is that they truly desire. People today are trying to fill their lives with so many things to keep them busy and happy, that they don't realize that the one thing that they are missing is the one thing that will fill them completely.

I will tell you, without having had a terrible disease like this woman had, I know what it is like to be close to Jesus. I know what it is like to live every day feeling completely fulfilled, because I've been pressing in for more of Jesus. And I'll tell you, I won't be satisfied with just a brush of the cloak- I want the full on encounter. I want the talk. I've noticed something too within myself. I've noticed a shift, a change of focus on what's important. It wasn't that long ago that a lot of our hopes and dreams were centered on stuff- on material possessions. We wanted a house, land, maybe a camper, an in-home theater space, things like that. And of course, we wanted all this stuff to go along with those things.

But right now? Where I sit, where I am in my spirit, I could care less if we ever see any of that. Honestly and truthfully, if it is to be that we never are able to buy a house, I don't have a problem with that. If we never have the land we want, that's okay too, because I am now focused on what really is important. I'm focused on God, and my relationship with God. And I'm focused on my family, and our relationships with each other and with God as a family. If God were to bless us with the ability to buy the things we want, I have to be honest, I wonder if we would be able to do it. There are so many people in this world suffering and hurting- children starving to death, and we want to spend thousands of dollars on four walls and a garage. There's just something not right about that to me right now. We've been experiencing our own financial crunch this year, but we're always able to find a little money under the couch cushions to go buy something for dinner. There are so many people who don't have that option, and it just breaks my heart completely. My children are happy and are well fed, and it brings tears to my eyes to think about the millions of mothers out there who have to put their children to bed with an empty stomach- and I wish, more than anything, that there was something I could do about it.

See, I've been pressing in for more of Jesus, and what is going on is that the things of this world are being pressed out. The things that the world tells me are important- aren't important. And the closer I get to Jesus, the more I start to think like Him, the more I see the hurt and the anguish.

We've been having a terrible year financially. I'm not going to sugar coat it, it's been terrible, the money has just not been there to do anything beyond pay basic bills! Yet if you ask us how we're doing, I will tell you every single time that we're doing wonderfully- and we wouldn't be lying. We're filled with the joy of the Lord! We're happy beyond measure, because our focus is not on our checkbook. We're not focused on money in the least. It comes in, we pay bills, and that's that. We don't dwell on the lack, because what good does it do? When we dwell on the negative, that's when we're letting the world tell us what we should be dwelling on. The world tells us that we should have so much in savings at one time. The world tells us that we should buy this, that, and the other thing in order to be happy. But greater is He that is in me than he that is in the world! We're focused on Jesus. We're stepping out in great faith this year, saying that God IS going to meet all our needs and be our Jehovah Jireh- be our provider. Because what other option is there? To think on what we don't have and aren't able to do? Instead, we'll focus on what we do have. We have each other, we have a roof over our heads, and we have three meals a day. But even better than that, we have a God who loves us. We have a God who knows our every need and will meet every need. We have a God who fills us with joy every single day, and I am so joyful this morning that it is a new day. I am joyful that I have a new opportunity to draw closer to him. And I am joyful that I'm about to go teach my children.

Whew. I wasn't going to mention much of that this morning. Yet there it is. I pray that everyone has a wonderful and joy-filled weekend. I don't think I'll have another chance to post this week, as we're headed out to Minneapolis for Labor Day weekend tomorrow. I'll be back Tuesday morning. Be blessed and full of joy! God is GREAT!

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