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Thoroughly Alive

We must hunger after the beautiful and the good...

 

When Jesus asks a question...

I think it's usually a challenge. I saw this clearly today as I rocked on a porch swing high up in the mountains and read the story of the woman who snuck up on Jesus and touched his cloak. Scripture says she had a hemorrhage that would not heal. It is so easy to picture her, this woman, bent double, ashamed of the broken body she lugged into every situation. Fully aware that if anyone knew of her illness, bumped up against her in the crowd, her very sickness would make them unclean and they would curse her.

Yet see Jesus she must. She was sure of healing, sure. That's what the passage says about her conviction and I love this. There was no doubt in her though in twelve years no other cure had worked. Sometimes suffering entirely sloughs away timidity, knocks off all the rough edges of hesitation in prayer. Pain clears your vision because faith becomes your only hope. So she approached Jesus, so furtively she was not seen, yet with a grit that propelled her through a thick, excited crowd. Her fingers clawed the hem of his dusty, trodden cloak and in that instant there was a clean light that pulsed through her and she knew, right there in the midday sun, that she was healed.

Then came that terrifying question from Jesus. "Who touched me?"

I think it was a dare. I think he knew exactly who touched him. It's not as if God is really at a loss. I think Jesus was simply determined to look this woman straight in her eyes with his love. I think he felt the soul of her trying to slip away from him in the crowd, and he would not have it. His question was an invitation, a dare to step forward, not for censure, but for praise. Jesus wanted life to burgeon in her heart as well as her body. He wanted her to know that her faith, the clear-sighted grit, the hope she had held fast though she "suffered much at the hands of physicians and lost all she had," was a beautiful thing in her Savior's eyes.

I think, perhaps, that challenge rings true to me this morning as well.

Sometimes, in following God, I study Scripture and do what is right, and ask for healing for my sickness and help for my needs... but I do it with eyes on the ground. I ask as if I were one of his millions. I have faith, but it's a timid one that withdraws once I have what I need. In reading this passage, my heart begins to ache. I think God longs to see my eyes. He is the livest soul and softest heart in creation. He desires a face-to-face friendship with the heart he has healed, the soul he has made whole. Yet how often, even in my quiet times, I keep my eyes averted from his face. I am challenged now, to look up, to see the breathtaking ownership of his love for me. I am invited, just like that woman, to know and be known.

The woman could not refuse. She rushed trembling to his feet, and "told him all." Imagine the difference in her life between merely slipping away, healed, but unknown, and what ended up happening; Jesus ringing affirmation that "her faith had made her well." And then the tender words with, I imagine, a gentle touch, "go in peace." She was altered, I'm sure of it. In my heart, I know that Jesus' eyes upon her, his insistence upon knowing her, speaking with just her out of the thousands fired a love in her that did not die.

Today, I want to look up and know Christ as well so that love will be strong in me.