Reflections From Mark 5 | That Woman Who Dared To Believe

We're adjusting to a new normal over here these days. With M now away at school most days, I find myself actually free to do some of the things I regularly tuck away in the back of my mind and never find time to dig out again. Really, by "some" things I mean one: writing.

Another activity that's been quietly beckoning my attention again is journaling--the lack of which leaves me feeling embarrassed and exasperated. Who has time to journal? My abide time so easily turns into a quick read (or a long one) without the effort to process and pray through what He showed me. Man, I used to journal all the time, and I can see the shift in my heart and mind because I've neglected to make the effort. Dang.

It's funny, because for whatever reason (or an all too-intentional one) I've had this line from a video at church this last weekend constantly on my mind. Something to the affect of,

"I kept spending time with Jesus, and at first it was difficult and took a lot of effort, and then eventually it became natural and easy to be with Him."

I remember hearing that and thinking, "time with Jesus difficult? Pff! How could time with Jesus be difficult?" And then, not too soon to be embarrassing but soon enough to sting a little, I remembered just how painstakingly difficult it feels for me to journal.

Well geez.

So I guess this is why that line keeps hanging around. I, Laura, admit that it is difficult for me to spend time with Jesus with a pen in my hand and paper on my lap. Can't we just talk about it via my thoughts? That's so much more accessible to me when I've got to deal with H whining at me, demanding more cookies or cereal or Moana.

Turns out, one-sided dialogue via my scrambled thoughts isn't exactly amounting to a real relationship with my Lord. So today, after we sent the big boy off on the bus (which, for those wondering, is getting easier. K, you were all right.), I hunkered down on the couch with my Bible AND my journal, gave H some Sesame Street crackers for breakfast (#winning at this mom thing) and dove back into Mark 5, where I left off yesterday.

I made it a whole 2 verses before I had a thought cross my mind that I just had to journal about. Two pages later, I had processed through this crazy cool revelation of who Christ is. (And if you want, I'll share that one with you.) Then I made it a whole ZERO verses down through that story because the story within the story caused me to stop and write AGAIN (for Pete's sakes, Lord let Hazel be eerily pleased with these crackers and Moana in the background because I can't stop now!). And this is what I want to share with you today.

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We know her. The bleeding woman. This woman, for a long season of my life, gave me so much comfort, because I felt like she would've known my own pain well. She bled for 12 years. I bled for 5. Maybe if she had been sick during our time of medical advancement, she wouldn't have suffered for quite as long. Regardless, she was a woman who had been forced to define her life by her body and how it was failing her. She didn't know how to control it. She spent everything she had to try to fix it. She was cast out because of it. She was a desperate woman, left with an out-of-her-control body, and if I were a betting gal, I'd put money on her slowly losing a grip on the woman she was before this all began.

She was the bleeding woman.

Many of us have our own version of this story. The thing that happened to us that was out of our control, and has therefore become our identity. Disease, abuse, circumstances out of your control, born into a seemingly inescapable world of sin. So much of life is about what's happening around us, and if we don't intentionally find our identity in the One who made us, we will identity with that which is the easiest to claim.

You may come from a family of addicts, but your identity in Christ is that of adopted child of the King.

You may have been wronged physically, emotionally, or verbally, but your identity is one rescued by the One True Victor, Jesus Christ.

You may have a body that seemingly "fails" you every day, resistant to your efforts to find health and answers. But your identity is found in your Heavenly realities--that this life and this body is not your own, but for the telling of the story of the Gospel that says you aren't Home yet, and if this failing body is the vehicle that takes you there, then hallelujah amidst the pain and sorrow.

We all relate to the bleeding woman in some way. Which is why I can't not tell you what He showed me this morning.

Jesus is on His way, with His disciples and a man named Jairus, to see Jairus' daughter. Mark specifically tells us that there were people pressing into Jesus on all sides. And there's this woman, with this faith that could barely be contained inside her weak body, who believes that if she can at least touch His cloak, she will be healed. Scripture tells us in Mark 5:29, "As soon as her fingers brushed His cloak, the bleeding stopped. She could feel that she was whole again."

First of all--brushed His cloak--for goodness sakes she didn't even have to GRAB ONTO His cloak and she was healed. Immediately this disease that not only consumed her body physically, but changed every single aspect of her life, was gone. Amidst a crowd of people all around her, the most incredible thing that would ever happen to her in her lifetime, took place. And here's the clincher:

Had Jesus not stopped and asked a question (one I believe He very well knew the answer to) no one would've known it.

"He stopped. Everyone stopped. He looked around.

'Who just touched My robe?'"

God is omniscient--all-knowing--so this question is really for the benefit of everyone else. In the tizzy of people following Him to watch Him do the thing they had all heard He could do, which was bring someone back from the dead, He caused them all to stop. 

I find what the Disciples did next to be entertaining, mostly because it's what many of us do in the church all the time. Amidst the likely awkward silence, the disciples offer up a little bit of that holy common sense that we are all-too good at giving.

They had to remind Him that the crowd was thick, so obviously someone had touched Him. What's with the question then, boss?

"But Jesus waited" (vs 32)

He didn't answer them. He waited. He looked for her. He knew her, and He waited for her to have the courage to step out and grab hold of that which had been done for her.

"At last, the woman--knowing He was talking about her--pushed forward and dropped to her knees. She was shaking with fear and amazement."

You know that feeling--when the Spirit is like, "Hey, I'm picking you to share. I'm not going to stop tapping your shoulder until you open your mouth and start talking!" Jesus just waited. No amount of common sense observations from His disciples would cause Him to let this moment pass by. This woman needed to proclaim what He had done for her. 

For her benefit and for theirs.

As I journaled through this I wondered 2 things:

1) How many others had received their own silent miracle at the touch of Jesus? Had He not paused, this woman's story would've gone undocumented. So who else received a new life, a new identity, simply at His touch?

2) Had she not voiced her miracle, would she have truly moved forward made-whole? When you find your identity in your circumstances for years on end, how do you suddenly stop slapping that label on yourself? How would she, in a place where physical illness made her unclean and unable to be in certain places and around certain people, have gone on healed and whole, without somehow letting others see it for themselves? I believe Jesus knew this. I believe He knew her propensity to throw that label back on herself, and I believe He knew the likelihood of others continuing to shun her despite this miraculous healing. And so He called her out. He made her talk.

And because of it, countless people have been spurred on to have faith like that of the bleeding woman. I sure wish I knew her name, because even now it seems unfitting to identity her with what no longer suits her.

There are people who are longing for a story of faith to help spur them on in their own journey... dare I say, your story. I believe that Jesus pauses and waits for each of us to open our mouths and to tell those around us of the miracles He is doing in our lives. Where is He showing us our freedom and redemption? Where is He fighting our battles for us? Where is He bringing peace despite our pain?

He waits for you to come forward. And He'll wait as long as it takes.

Verse 34 is the cherry on top, in my opinion: "Daughter, you are well because you dared to believe. Go in peace, and stay well." Oh how He knows our tendency to go backwards, even if it's back into illness or sin. So He sends her off with peace and the command to keep her feet firmly planted on this new ground He has given her.

Phew. What an incredible insight into such a special story. My prayer is that we would never assume we know the stories of Jesus. We just simply don't. God is far too intentional to ever be fully known, even in the retelling of His time here on earth by mere men. 

Go tell your story. Step forward and let the world around you know who this Jesus is that you call your Lord! Let Him get His glory.


Lord, keep my eyes ever-open to who You are. Let me never assume that I know You "well-enough". And give me the courage to come forward in the crowds and tell of what You have done for me.

The Day He Asked Me Why | Entering Into Healing

My son has this obsession with Band-aids. I'm going to be honest with you--it drives me completely crazy. There are band-aid wrappers all over the house, and even worse, used band-aids in odd, and questionable places. For every owie, and everything that could maybe, potentially be an owie, a band-aid is a must.


Today I asked myself a couple of times, "why don't you want to get healed?" An interesting observation on my part, because my prayer life would reflect that I do, in fact, seek healing in specific areas of my life, and yet when approached with the opportunity, I hesitate.

Interesting.

Later on I heard that same question but from my Savior. "Why don't you want to get healed?" You see, when I ask it of myself, I do so under the false assumption that I have some sort of control over the matter, which would be the reason why I never actually answered myself in the first place.

But when asked that question from the One who holds within Himself all power to restore and renew, I feel the breath lost from my lungs. There's a gasp in my spirit--like embarrassment mixed with shame mixed with maybe-I-can-pretend-I-didn't-hear-myself-the-first-two-times.

The Savior Jesus wants to know why I don't want what He wants to give to me.


Remember my band-aid obsessed kid? Well, one of the reasons he drives me bonkers with these band-aids is that he will keep them on for. days. I tell him repeatedly, "Malachi, if you do not take it off and let it heal you will get an infection. I don't think you understand what that means--you will have to see the dr and get a shot and it will be so so so so so so bad." (Maybe my tactic isn't the greatest, but I'm grabbing at straws on my best days.) And as I drove home from work today I saw that I am, in fact, worse than my son.

I want my band-aids; my coverings. I want my hope and security in the thing that is hurting in me to be found in something tangible instead of trusting that time and fresh air and healing balm with make it all better. If I cover it up then that must mean it's safe. Phew. Except that that couldn't be further from the truth.

Often times, I will find Malachi with his hand wrapped around the finger of his other hand, strenuously attempting to keep a gross, no-longer-sticky band-aid on. Today I see myself doing the same thing. I've got wounds that have been around for more years than I can recount, and I'm still here, a 32 year old woman of God, working that bandage like it's the day I put it on.

So I guess I might need to give Malachi a little slack seeing as I'm more of a band-aid freak than he is.

As I sit here and ask the Lord, "what do I do with this? How do I get to a place of uncovering so that You can do what You do?" And immediately I'm reminded of a restorative holy yoga class I led last weekend. I asked the women 3 questions and today He asks me the same:

"Is God good?"

"Is God good to me?"

"Is God good at being God?"

It's as if I can see His face, and hear His gentle voice as He whispers over me the very same words I whisper (or shout) over Malachi: "You have to trust Me. I need to be the best Savior that I can be, and that means asking you to do something scary and trusting Me while you do it."

I have to reach my hands out, however shaky they might be, and I need to loose my lips, however much they might quiver, and I need to let Him do what He does. I need to say yes to healing, and believe that even if the other side seems scary and unfamiliar, that He is in that place, too.


I don't have any answers for you and I can't proceed to give you a testimony of received healing. I'm walking this out, today. But I know that His question to me is also His question to you. So, my dear friend, 

"Why don't you want to get healed?"

 

Life Without It

It's been nine years since I walked (or wheeled) into the greatest life-changing experience of my life. It changed things emotionally, mentally and physically. Nine years ago my life began because I lost a part of me.

Nine years ago I lost my colon.

Recently I got a fresh dose of the shame and embarassment I used to experience on the regular for my illness and my story. I think the hardest part of the reminder was knowing that I used to feel that way most of my days--that rarely was there a day that I wasn't acutely aware of my vulnerability and lack of control.

It was a loss in the sense that I lost my colon, but in any and all other ways it was a complete and total gain because nine years ago today I was given the chance to actually live my life. Crazy how something seemingly awful can turn out to be one of the greatest acts of God in your life.

God has been so kind to me by bringing people my way who get it. Recently, at Holy Yoga Instructor Training Retreat, I absolutely lit up when my friend told me she had someone for me to meet--someone who also didn't have a colon.

Someone like me.

There's a lot that's different but there is immeasurably more that's the same. I still get to, by the grace of God, grow my family. I still get to, by the grace of God, run and jump and play. I still get to, by the grace of God, stand up on a stage and preach His Word.

So actually, I guess it's not the same as it was at all. It's completely and totally better.

I've lived without a colon half as long as I lived with one. I honestly can't wait till it's been 18 years and I can surpass my years lived with that bad boy.

Here's to being completely undone by God's mercy and entirely blown away by His goodness.

Even in the stuff you never asked for or wanted.