The Touch

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*Photo Credit: Amanda Macias

Every good story has a turning point. It’s the place where whatever has gone wrong begins to be made right.

In The Chronicles of Narnia, we watch as Peter finally agrees to lead an army against the white witch. In Disney’s Frozen, we breath a sigh of relief when Elsa saves her sister Anna from remaining an icy statue forever.

In Mark chapter 5, we find the true story of a woman whose life is completely altered in a single moment, with a single touch.

She’d been bleeding for over a decade, yet suddenly her story had reached a turning point.

I’ve been praying for so long. Maybe you need a miracle too. What if our turning point is close enough to touch?

“A woman in the crowd had suffered for twelve years with constant bleeding … She had heard about Jesus, so she came up behind him through the crowd and touched his robe … Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering.”–Mark 5:25, 27, 29

A woman in the crowd, she was just another face among the masses. Invisible, she felt alone in her pain. Even so, the nature of her need was such that it stood out in an uncomfortable way. She wasn’t fully able to join in with the hustle and bustle, and they’d never completely relate.

She had suffered for 12 years. The passage of time contributed to the woman’s sense of helplessness as much as the futility of human effort against a disease that just didn’t care. Doctors, money–nothing she’d tried had even come close.

There was constant bleeding. It was a physical and ever-present reminder of just how desperate the disease had made her situation.

But …

She had heard about Jesus. Good things–amazing things, really. He’d opened blind eyes and made the lame to walk. Jesus was undeniably able to heal, and He seemed willing to help even those who struggled the most.

So she came. Forward movement–propelled by hope. At first unsure, every step increased her confidence as she told herself, “If I can just touch His clothes, I’ll be healed.” She believed the words more each time they cycled through her mind.

Every step brought her closer to Jesus, and as she drew near she could see the compassion in His eyes. She didn’t doubt the rumors that He healed everyone who came to Him. The power eminating from Jesus was more palpable than her awareness of the bleeding.

All at once, she was right behind Him, and she knew without a doubt that if she touched Him, she would be made whole. Somewhere back there, fear had fallen away.

She vaguely remembered pressing through the crowd of people that had separated her from Jesus. They’d been jostled aside, along with her unbelief. All she could see was The Miracle Worker. Not reaching out to Him seemed crazy now–more absurd than pressing through the crowd had felt just moments ago.

She touched his robe. Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering.

The woman knew she was healed and also that she was more unclean than the bleeding ever could’ve made her. Here stood the only One who could wash away the bitterness and resentment brought by years of hopelessness. She fell to her knees.

Hidden in the stories of Narnia and Frozen, we find a truer turning point than Peter’s courage and Elsa’s love. If not for Azlan’s sacrifice, Peter could never have been so brave. Elsa did rescue her sister from an icy fate, but it was Anna who first set out to find and redeem the wayward queen.

So often, we mistakenly shoulder the burden of turning our own stories around, but Jesus has already accomplished all that is needed. He is the true Turning Point in every story that ends well.

I am the woman. Are you? I have been worn out by passing time, crippled with fear by worsening symptoms, and paralyzed by doubt.

How can we press through the crowd of unbelief?

Andrew Wommack says, “Faith doesn’t move God. He isn’t the one who is stuck.”

But faith moves us to recognize and receive what God has already done. We don’t need to convince Him to act by what we say or do. He has already acted! When we declare the promises of God and take steps to obey His Word, we are not attempting a formula for answered prayer. We’re speaking the Word of God to our own hearts so that faith will come and propell us to a place of trust and confidence in Him.

Faith is a by-product of focusing on Jesus.

The woman who had bled for 12 years heard about Jesus. As she began to see Him for who He really was, she told herself, “If I just touch His clothes, I will be healed.”

And she was.

Grace had opened her eyes to Jesus in all of His glory, and faith assured her that He was the tangible answer to her need.

Jesus said, “Daughter, your faith has healed you.” This from the One who never asked for perfect faith but gives to each of us a measure of faith, declaring that even faith as small as a mustard seed can move mountains.

I don’t need to muster up more faith, I just need to look on the wonder of Jesus Christ. “The things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.”

Faith is confidence in Jesus–something that is not hard to come by if we’d only look at Him for long enough. It’s as simple as finding true North via the stars and as certain as the sun rising again tomorrow.

When our eyes are opened to all that Jesus really is and our hearts are hit with the full impact of what He accomplished on the cross, faith comes easily.

Instead of looking forward to what we wish God might do, we look back at the cross and realize that we have always been standing under the fountain of miracles that Jesus opened up 2,000 years ago.

Doubt is washed away, and we find the confidence in Jesus to reach out and touch Him–to grasp what was freely offered all along.

Jesus is here. Right now. Look at Him. Reach out and touch.

Photo Credit: The beautiful rendering of the woman with the issue of blood is by Amanda Macias. More of her work can be viewed here.

Only Believe

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This is what it feels like to be at a crossroads. That place where a decision demands to be made. Left or right. Believe or don’t. Sink or swim. Live or die.

Trust God or cower in fear.

Here, there is no more time to sit and consider the options; the river’s waters have come to a head, and there are only two choices:  get out now or surrender to the falls.

I hope that every person who has ever read a word I’ve written, especially about Olivia, reads the words I am about to write. Because every tear, prayer, blog post, and God intervention over the last two years has brought me to this moment.

I stand here alone but for Jesus beside me and His Spirit inside me.

You see, Olivia is only almost three. She cannot walk this path for herself. Robert and I walk it together, but in some ways–just as salvation is an intensely personal thing–so is belief in all of who God is and in every promise He’s made. My husband can love me, pray for me, support me, and lead me. But He cannot respond to Jesus’ radical command for me. Only I can do that.

Here, I come face to face with the words that Christ used to pursue me all along:

“Do not be afraid; only believe.”–Mark 5:36 (NKJV)

I suspect Jesus spoke those words many more times than are recorded in the Bible. In this instance, they followed some of the worst words any parent could hear, “Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the Teacher any further (vs. 35)?”

This father–ruler of the local synagogue–had found himself at a fork in the road. I can relate. I’m OK with troubling the Teacher, because I’ve learned that the Teacher is never troubled by those who come to Him believing. Again and again he was moved by faith. He rejoiced over it. Again and again, He stirs my faith, almost pleading for simple belief. Just as He once did for Jairus, Jesus speaks even before the full magnitude and seeming impossibility of the need is revealed.

“Do not be afraid. Only believe.”

This time, I’m answering Jesus’ bold exhortation full on. The time for subtlety and restraint is over. I choose to let go of all claims to plan B.

Like a starry-eyed gambler recklessly betting everything on a single hand, I’m all in. Only I’m not starry-eyed or reckless at all. My eyes aren’t turned toward a last ditch effort, they are set on the Creator of the universe–my own Father. Reckless would be looking anywhere but to the One who made all and loved all, then sent His Son to save and heal them all (Luke 6:19). Where is the gamble when victory has already been won (I Peter 2:24)?

I’ve written from places of deep pain and been honest about my struggle against fear. I don’t regret that, and I’m sure I will write with tears streaming down my face again. I am human, and Jesus never promised me a life without trouble or sorrow.

But I have never said so clearly or explicitly what I mean to say today. In the past I’ve whispered faith instead of shouting it, tempering my tone to the tune of “what if and who’s reading?” and although I always hope to remain transparent, I will never write about another medical report or health hurdle again unless my next words immediately revert my attention and yours back to Jesus, the only One with the power to answer:

Yes, the diagnosis is bad. Very bad. I’m aware that the doctors expect her to die young. I realize the hearing test showed degeneration.

BUT GOD.

I am not in denial. Glance through any post on this site and you’ll see that. Raw and emotional at times, yes. But not in denial. I’ve simply stared the facts in the face and chosen to exalt the truth instead. “And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free (John 8:32).”

The truth is, my daughter’s fate on this earth is in the hands of the same God who holds her eternity. He who died for my sins also died for her healing. The Bible never records a single instance where Jesus did not heal a person who had come to Him asking in faith. “He healed them all (Matt. 12:15).” I would never think to doubt Jesus’ ability or willingness to forgive my sins and secure my eternity. Neither will I doubt the strength of His hand and the compassion of His heart to heal.

The goodness of God cries out, “Only believe!”

I BELIEVE.

Olivia is healed. Her eyes and ears, liver and metabolism. She’s healed, and her future is secure in the promise of God!

I believe. I don’t know the details of what comes next, but I don’t need to know–any more than Olivia needs to know where her next meal is coming from. Her mother will feed her.

My Father will lead me, and I will follow–just as Peter, Andrew, James and John left everything and followed Jesus. These fishermen began with no knowledge of where they were going or how they would get there, but they knew more as they knew Jesus more. Even when they grew old without knowing all there was to know, still they followed. Still they believed.

I believe, and that is all I need to know for now. If you ever see me linger in fear or waver in doubt, please remind me:

Do not fear.

Only believe.

P.S. Today is my birthday, and I want to begin my 29th year by doing more than just talking or writing about my faith. So, I’d like to follow the example of a friend AND take advantage of the extra “Happy Birthday” traffic on my Facebook page and blog to ask you to join my team and shine a light on slavery of all kinds. People all over the world are hurting. Let’s do something. Give $7, and then create a team of your own. Just click the link below. 

Join my 27X7 team & become a FREEDOM FIGHTER. It all starts with us! Join me! #ENDITMOVEMENT

*After I wrote this post, I stopped to think for a moment about how strong words like the ones I’ve written can be painful for those who have lost someone they love, which is most of us. I have grieved over the loss of people very dear to me, and I don’t know why they weren’t healed here on earth. I do know that Jesus won anyway, because they trusted in Him, and He redeemed their lives for eternity. This fact dispels any shadow that death can bring. I think that my grandma–who is now in heaven–would have me believe and fight unwaveringly for Olivia’s healing for as long as I have breath. There is no defeat in following Jesus, and there is every reason to believe Him for every promise–on earth and in heaven. We live believing here and now, even as we set our hearts on eternity, where Jesus will reign victorious forever. “Your Kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven (Matt. 6:10).”