Have you ever sat in church feeling like the entire message was written for you?
The topic, the passage of Scripture, the keywords of the outline, the illustrations ... each one hitting the target drawn on your heart?
Yesterday was that day for me.
We had a guest pastor filling our pulpit while our shepherd was away.
He is a tender, thoughtful, godly man who possesses a superb ability to craft sentences and create word pictures that draw you into the center of his message in a tangible way. You feel like you are THERE - standing next to Jesus as He heals a blind man, raises a child from the dead, and gives new life to a woman who has been suffering from sickness and isolation for twelve years.
I had no idea what the Lord had planned for me when I walked into the sanctuary Sunday morning. I entered with a light heart, and I left with a tear-stained face and sense of wonder at the incredible timing of a God who knows what we need long before we do.
It has been a long time since I wept silently through a sermon. I did not even try to stop the tears. I let them roll freely down my cheeks because - I needed to feel. I needed to embrace the truth that was pouring into my heart and mind through the words of a man who so clearly loves God, and people.
His passage: Mark 5:21-34
The story of the woman who suffered from a hemorrhage for twelve years and followed Jesus just so she could touch His robe - and find healing.
I have read this passage and heard this sermon a dozen times or more, but never like this.
Never have I wept for this woman. Never have I felt her pain. Her sorrow. Her loneliness and isolation. Never have I noticed the tenderness of Jesus' words when He speaks to her. I never saw HER.
I am going to pause in my personal reflection for a moment and insert my notes from the sermon.
- separated from everyone because she was "unclean" according to Levitical law
- she cannot worship in the temple with God's people
- everyone knows of her ailment because she is 'unclean' and, because of the type of sickness, assumptions are made, gossip is spread, shame cloaks her
CAN YOU SEE HER?
- 12 years of isolation
- 12 years of bleeding, most likely anemic, exhausted, shamed, rejected, never touched - forgotten and ignored
CAN YOU SEE HER?
But then ---> She hears of this man - Jesus of Nazareth
He has healed a demon-possessed man. He has healed a leper - another untouchable - just like her.
Maybe he can heal her too? No one else could help her, but maybe this man would be different.
She went after Him - pressed in with the crowd surrounding Him - seeking only to touch His robe. (She was willing to put all of her hope in a piece of cloth!!!!!!!)
She touches Him and INSTANTLY her body is healed.
Jesus felt His power leave His body - stops - asks, "Who touched me?"
The beauty of this question: He knew who touched Him. Jesus SAW HER. He knew her suffering. And He called her "daughter." Affectionate, personal - intimate. How long had she waited for such tenderness?
Why do you do what you do?
Why do you invest in others?
-------> Because of people like her - and a Savior like HIM. <--------
Hopeless - Hurting - Helpless people need to know they MATTER. To the Lord. And to us.
We give our all to others - because God gives His all to us.
- there was a lot of need
- He was surrounded by a multitude ... hundreds, if not thousands of people
BUT ---> the woman was not lost to Him! HE SAW HER!!!
Jesus is Savior to ALL - and He notices, serves, and ministers, to the ONE.
She was "no one," but she was everything in that moment. He knew her - He saw her - He stopped for her.
Jesus accommodated the ONE.
Jesus is a Savior who can do what no one else can.
He heals the hopeless - the helpless - the hurting.
He heals and He SAVES.
If I am honest, I see myself in the woman. Not all of me, but the Michelle of my past.
I see her in the women who sit on my couch broken and weeping over deep wounds and thick scars.
I see her in the babies and children who cry themselves to sleep each night because they have no one to hold them.
I see her in the addict who hides and isolates himself because of his shame.
I SEE HER. Everywhere. And my heart breaks for her.
The tears that rolled down my cheeks on Sunday represented deep sorrow for the intense loneliness and pain that envelops so many, but the tears told another story too. "You have a job to do, Michelle!"
The Lord is giving me an increased passion for those who are neglected, rejected, and forgotten. It is growing at an intense rate, and I have absolutely no desire to stop it.
There are hundreds, thousands, millions of people drowning ... and there just isn't enough rope.
BUT ---> my God is SAVIOR of ALL.
And He sees,
He ministers to,
and He heals
Why do you do what you do, Michelle?
Why do you invest in others?
Because of people like her - they are everywhere.
And because a Savior like HIM. He is ALL in ALL!
Lord, thank You! I was profoundly affected by the message You chose to speak through Your faithful servant. I was surprised by the intensity of my emotion, but I was not afraid of it. You are creating a new heart in me, a heart full of passion and drive, and though I have no idea what You are doing, I am willing to find out - and follow where You lead. Prepare me, Lord. I know I am not ready. I still try to wiggle off the altar instead of lying still in quiet surrender, and I'm sorry. I am a willing vessel, Lord. I just have a lot of cracks. Seal them and strengthen me so I can be the woman I need to be to obey You and lovingly serve others. Brokenness surrounds me, Lord. I cannot just walk by and pretend I don't see it. The brokenness cloaks human hearts who need to be seen, touched, accepted, and loved. LET ME SEE THEM, LORD. Let me see them. And then show me what to do next.