Who Dares to Touch?

For she thought, “If I just touch His garments, I will get well.”     Mark 5:28

 

There are many women whose past has defined their lives for the longest time.  Fears, insecurities, hurt, dashed hope envelope them and eclipse the present life and any hope on the horizon.  I was such a woman. 

Past heartaches, frustration and failure pushed me into a dark, solitary cell.  Scared of getting hurt with the possibility of drowning in frustration, I did not dare to voice my dreams and I did not have the courage to ask for help.  Rather than getting my hopes up to surely have it shattered, I settled to stay near the bottom of the pit so the fall from hope would not hurt as much.  My dark cell was my world and my spirit was chained to it.

It took some time before I met the Lord.  Friends told me about Jesus and His forgiveness and everlasting love, but He seemed too good to be true.  Questions bounced between my heart and mind “Is He for real? Would He really do this for me?  Maybe He is no different from all the others”.  I was very skeptical but there was also the faintest throb of hope.  A small seed of hope buried deep inside that was almost imperceptible.  I dared to hope — but not too much and half expecting to be denied my prayer.  But the Lord is full of grace and overflowing with mercy.  Just like the bleeding woman when she touched His robe, I tentatively touched His robe and immediately knew that a miracle happened. 

In Mark 5, while in the middle of a throng, Jesus asked “Who touched my robe?”  It was not that He did not know who touched Him.  He certainly knew who it was.  He asked because He wanted the bleeding woman to know that He is aware of her and more importantly, that He sees her and cares for her.  I could only imagine the nervousness of the woman as she slowly looked at the Messiah and felt His tender love for her.  His words must have been a soothing balm that washed over her.  And oh, the joy and ecstasy she must have felt!

As with the bleeding woman, I did not want to stand out from the crowd but nervously and hopefully touched His robe.  He did not ask who I was, but did something more — He took my hands, lifted me from my dark cell and brought me into His bright, brave world.  He saw me and knew me; and He has not ceased looking after me. 

I asked for little and hoped for less, but the Lord gave much, much more.  Without judgment, without hesitation, the Lord gave abundantly.  I with my fears, the bleeding woman in the Bible, you with the debilitating sickness, you with the broken dream and you without hope — we could put our trust in the Lord and we could dare to put our hope in Him for He knows you and sees you.  Won’t you follow and touch even just His robe?

Not Logical At All

The Lord has spoken to you, O remnant of Judah, “Do not go into Egypt!”   — Jeremiah 42:19

It’s difficult to follow directions and obey instructions. Even with a pamphlet of instructions, we often ditch that and try to assemble a furniture or equipment on our own, only to find that we’ve left out a vital part to make the furniture stable or the equipment function smoothly.

It’s the same way with the Bible and us.  We pray for God’s leading, His direction in our lives and when God does lead us to the right direction, we ditch His directions and proudly go our way.  More often, we don’t even wait for our loving Father’s leading but fly away expecting that He would follow us.

I used to do that — to go on my merry way despite God’s warning — and sometimes, to my shame, I still do.  I’ve found that in those instances, I’ve mentally made-up my mind on what action to take even before praying.  And if God’s advise does not coincide with mine, then perhaps He missed out on a few facts.  ‘Lord, it’s a higher paying job and the money would cover all our basic needs.  No more debts!’ Or ‘It’s just so much better to migrate there.  I could be more productive.’

We all have our valid excuse and most of it is because we are dissatisfied with our present circumstance and the new opportunity seems heaven-sent.  The new window of opportunity would answer several immediate concerns and for someone, even God, to say otherwise is hard to accept.

But looks could be deceiving and not all presents tied in a beautiful, bright bow are God-sent.  God warned Johanan and his followers not to go to Egypt (Jeremiah 42-43).  God wanted His people to stay in ravaged, war-torn Judah.  Defenseless with hardly any food and shelter, Judah was not the most logical place to live in.  Prosperous, fortified Egypt seemed to be a safer, more comfortable place.  Human logic says that Egypt is the better place.  But God does not deal with logic; He deals with faith.  God promised restoration, life, security and compassion to those who would stay in Judah (Jeremiah 42:10-12); and death to those who would go to Egypt (v. 15-17).  He longed for the trust and obedience of His people.  He wanted to shower them with compassion and let them experience His mighty work — if they would only have faith and follow Him.

Our present circumstance, our Judah, may be of trial, difficulty and need. But if the God Who Sees asks, warns, advises and directs us to stay and remain where we are, then it is for our own good.  Nay, it is for our best. The temptation to go back to our comfort zone, our Egypt or former life, may be great and may seem to be the most logical solution to our problem.  But God’s thoughts are far more deep and wider than we could ever imagine.  He knows our circumstance, our heartaches, needs and dreams.  And He promises restoration, life, security and compassion to those who would obey Him.

Johanan and his followers refused to trust God as they were too proud and stubborn.  Are you going to remain proud and stubborn too?  Are you going to settle for temporary, immediate relief or choose to believe the One who wants what is best for you?  Are you going to humble yourself, trust and follow the One who loves you the most?

Interruptions

Yet those who wait for the Lord
Will gain new strength;
They will mount up with wings like eagles,
They will run and not get tired,
They will walk and not become weary.  – Isaiah 40:31

 

When God picks you up and places you in a lonely place, it most often is because He wants to get your attention.  It’s never comfortable to be plucked from the middle of an active, dynamic and even competitive life and dropped into a secluded, quiet corner where not much happens. When it happened to me, I didn’t welcome the change and felt like God was twisting my arm.  After much struggling, I settled in to my quiet life and asked the Lord to make clear to me the lesson He wanted me to learn.

When I thought I learned a lesson or two from God, I was expecting to be brought into the thick of things again; to be restored to my former work, activities and status.  But God was not through with me yet.  What I was expecting to be a 4 to 6 months of discipline and learning period from God turned to 5 years in the arid desert.  Repeatedly I cried to God asking Him what He wanted me to learn — was it to learn the Bible more? Was it to get involved in ministry? Was it to learn a new trade?  I was frantically running around trying to ‘hear’ from God.

After much, much struggling, crying and tantrums, I fell on my knees and raised my arms in surrender.  I was broken and empty; there was no fight left in me.  I have depleted my savings, couldn’t find a job and felt useless and incompetent.  I used to pride myself with the work I accomplished and status I achieved in the corporate world and now I felt it all go down the drain.  Without it and feeling that the Lord closed that door in my life, I was at a lost as to whom I was.  And so, broken and empty, I humbly waited on the Lord.

And that was exactly where the Lord wanted me to be:  looking and waiting on Him, empty, broken and humbled.  He took away the idols and things that I based my identity and confidence on.  He emptied my pockets, closed-off work and several doors that I may turn to my Refuge and my Deliverer.  He emptied me and brought me to my knees that He may be my Strength and my Righteous Judge.  He rendered useless my so-called titles and achievements that I may find who I am in my Holy King.  The Lamb of God broke my pride and vanity to shape me into a vessel for His compassion and grace.  My Creator plucked me from the world I knew that my eyes may be opened to the abundant life He had planned for me.  The Everlasting God forever broke my worldly crutches that I may soar and fly with Him.

It was a painful process, to shed my narrow, old selfish ways.  But it was a joyful experience too, to know who I am in Christ and be assured that absolutely nothing could separate me from His love.  I was in an arid desert but it was a most intimate time with my Lord and Savior.