Commit to Connect
She said to herself, “If I only touch his cloak, I will be healed.”
Maybe she heard all the stories of the itinerant Preacher who had the power to heal people, and for the first time in a while, her hope was rekindled. She had been sick for twelve long years, and she had spent all her money on doctors. Nothing had helped. She still felt miserable, and worse, sickness was considered a sign or moral failure in her culture; so she was also an outcast.
We can imagine the conflicting emotions of hope and shame that must have fought in her soul that day as she made her way through the crowd. This, she was convinced, was her last hope. She saw a crowd- someone said Jesus was there! She stepped forward to get as close as she could. There He was! But it looked as if He was leaving. Suddenly, she fell to the ground and reached out between dusty legs and feet to touch the hem of His cloak.
It was an imperfect, impulsive act to connect with Jesus, but it was enough. Suddenly, the power of God surged into her body and healed her, but something even more amazing also happened: Jesus stopped, turned, and singled her out. She had tried to remain incognito. Now she was the center of attention. Only one pair of eyes, though, mattered to her. She had reached out to connect with Jesus, and He reached back to establish a real relationship with her.
Hope is the foundational quality for all of life.
Commitment, a word and ideal that is disappearing from society. In the world of instant gratification, when we don’t find what we seek immediately, we look elsewhere. The idea of committed waiting even upon God seems to be foolish to a society that is used to having the world at their fingertips. We read the story of today’s devotion and somehow think that the woman instantly received her miracle without any commitment or wait. What the story says is that she had waited 12 long years and while she waited she remained committed to becoming well. She was so committed that she spent all her money with every doctor she could find. Now that’s commitment! So when she heard that Jesus was in town and that He often healed sick people, she decided to give Him a try. This wasn’t just wishful thinking. This was committed determination. After 12 years of blood loss, there’s no doubt that her body was weakened. Beside the physical weakness, was the law forbid a woman who had an issue of blood from being in public. The hurdles she had to overcome would have left most behind, but a committed decision overrides every objection. She pressed past the physical challenges and social restrictions to go meet Jesus. When she arrived her heart must have sank for after all the effort to get to Jesus it seemed still impossible, for the crowd was packed around Jesus. She could have just went home thinking she had given it a good try. But that committed determination moved her to begin to push her way through the crowd. Apparently unable to push through standing up, her commitment drove her to drop down and crawl through until she finally got within reach of Jesus. Stretching out her hand, ignoring her pain wracked body, she touched the hem of His garment. Maybe her fingertips merely brushed the tassels but that touch moved God and healing power flowed from Christ into her and she was healed all because she committed to whatever it took to receive. That would have been sufficient, but God had more in store. Christ wanted to see and to connect with that one who had touched Him with such committed faith so He had her brought to Him. The ultimate end of her committed determination brought her into the very presence of God Himself.
In the Christmas story we read of the Magi who were studying the stars. One night a new star was born and as they began to seek its meaning they discovered a prophecy given by Balaam, the prophet in Moses’ day that spoke of a coming king. They made a commitment to find and worship this king, so they started on a journey. Most manger scenes have the Magi at the stable on the night Christ was born but Scripture says it was almost two years before they found the Christ child at the house- not the stable. Can you imagine a two year journey with no evidence except a star you were following? That’s commitment! After two years, they finally come to Israel. Seeking the child they come to Herod’s palace no doubt thinking that’s where kings are born. Not finding Him there, didn’t deter them. They continued their search because they were committed to find the newborn king, and so they did. Coming into His presence, they bowed down and worshipped before Him. Their committed determination brought them into the very presence of God.
For two years now we have all been challenged by the pandemic. Much of the normal activities of the church have either transformed into something different or ceased for the time being. Like the woman and the Magi, we find ourselves faced with an array of obstacles. Some have decided to separate and isolate themselves until things can return back to comfortable norms. Others respond half-heartedly, sometimes with critical and unhappy attitudes. Some are angry, others are afraid that they are going to lose what’s been dear to them. So let’s think about the woman and the Magi who were committed and determined to find a connection with God. I’m sure that the journey will be difficult at times. I’m sure there will be obstacles and challenges along the way. I’m sure it will take longer than we might wish. But I am also sure that commitment to God, commitment to our faith groups, commitment to our family, commitment to our call, and commitment to stay the course, will end with us having experiences like those of the woman and the Magi- of being in the very presence of God. I strongly believe that those who choose to commit now will find the end of the journey worthwhile.
Dr. John Thompson