Monday, June 24, 2013

Touch and Go

There is a story in the Gospels about a bleeding woman.  A woman with a disorder of blood which means...I don't know how she lived.  I mean, honestly.  The woman would have been unclean, which would have relegated her to a life on the outside.  In addition to the general grossness of the whole mess.  She would have lived alone and accursed.

In this story, though, we see her as neither.  Not alone, for she is in the midst of the crowds, pushing her way through to get to the much-talked-about Teacher.  Not accursed, for she is full of faith and hope, with a healthy dose of determination.

It was a risk for her even to be there, to risk going into town at all, unclean as she was.  It was a risk to be in the crowd; everyone she touched would become unclean, too, whether or not they knew it.  (And if you don't think the God of the Old Testament was a stickler about such things, read through some of the laws and the stories.  Remember, in those days, God was still the God of the OT.)  She was really putting herself out there to get in there and you can kind of tell by her plan.

Her plan is to sneak through, not be noticed, touch the hem of Christ's robe, be healed, and slink away without being seen.  She had to be thinking that in addition to all of these other innocent bystanders, the very touch she was hoping would heal her would also defile the very Lord whose healing she sought.  She knew in her mind that she would make Him unclean...even as she hoped He would cleanse her.

She's planning on a touch and go.

So as slyly as possible, she sneaks her way through the crowd.  Weaving in and out.  Excuse me....excuse me...pardon me...please step aside....  She probably wouldn't have yelled, as so often we see in dramatic portrayals, "Unclean!  Unclean!" and expected anyone to clear the way.  Had she uttered even half the word, they would have ushered her right back outside of the city to live in her alone, accursed condition forever.

She touches the tip of Christ's robe, just as she planned, and starts to high-tail it out of there, no doubt already feeling His healing power at work in her.  (Have you ever had that moment?  I have.  It's awesome.) Then the Lord turns around.

Who touched me?

His disciples and the crowds joked.  Everyone's touching You, Jesus.  It's not like this is His first crowd; He was used to the jostling and the bumping and the incidental contact that comes with being followed everywhere by the masses.  But someone touched Him and He knew it.  Notice the emphasis.

Not "touched."  But "Him."

Have you ever stopped to consider this?  Have you stopped to think about what this really means?  All of these people touching Jesus and only one is healed.  All of these people bumping up against Him, and He notices the one because that's where His power goes.

We often think about the power in the holy touch of Christ, the way He healed the blind men and the deaf men and the bleeding woman and the sick little girl.  We think about the way He held the little children and know His glory must have gone into them, too.  We think that just by touching Christ, or by His touching us, we are infused with the full healing power and awesome glory of God.

But it's not that simple.

Jesus was not some traveling televangelist show.  The crowds weren't bumping into Him and miracles happening.  All of those people along the road, every one that touched Him here or there, every one who stumbled and sort of fell over their own feet and caught themselves on His shoulder, every one that pushed in to get a closer look and found that all of a sudden, it was Him they were trying to push aside to get to...Him, every one of those people touched the living Lord but did not walk away healed like the unclean woman with the bleeding disorder.  Only she walked away healed because of her deliberate, faith-filled touch.

The same is true with us.  We think it's enough to bump into God, to stumble over our feet and catch ourselves on His shoulder, to bobble around and have incidental contact and that's enough.  It's not enough for me.  I want the full power of God, and that means my touch has to be deliberate and believing.  It means I have to step out of my comfort zone, take a risk, and dare to touch the Lord as He's passing me by, dare to push my way through and do whatever it takes to get to Him and know that when I do, that one little touch will be the fullness of His glory.

If you want the full power of God in your life, don't settle for traveling near Him or crossing paths; go after Him and touch Him, take a risk and know that He's everything He promised to be.  Just like the woman in the Gospel story, go...and touch.

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