Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Crying Out

Sometimes, the Gospels are a little misleading. Not intentionally, of course, but our human nature causes us to read them in a certain way that suits our aching hearts, and it's not the entire truth of the situation. See, it's easy for us to read the story of Jesus and to get the idea that He just walked around healing everyone and doing miracles at the drop of a hat. We can easily get the impression that He always had His head on a swivel, looking for that person in the crowd who was most in need of His touch and then moving toward them deliberately and compassionately. We can come to believe that all we have to do is earnestly desire Jesus, and He will find us and heal us. We can think that all it takes is one well-timed moment when we cry out from the depth of our hearts, and if it's just the right moment, then He will hear us and turn toward us.

And then...and then, because our faith has taught us this, all that's left for us to do is to believe. If we've timed our cry just right and stood in just the right place and put ourselves in just the right scenario and we know that Jesus heard us, then that's all that we can do. Now, it's up to Him. And if we believe that He is who He says He is and that He wants to heal us, as He responded to the one man who came to Him (I am willing), then we must simply sit and wait and trust that He sees us, He hears us, and He is coming to heal us.

It's easy for us to come to a belief that our healing is quick and easy and then, when it's not, we must have gotten part of it wrong. We must have missed something or maybe our timing was off or maybe that wasn't Jesus walking down the street right there after all. Or maybe...maybe God doesn't want to heal us. Do you realize how quickly we resign ourselves to the idea that God doesn't love us enough to heal us, doesn't want us to be whole, just because we cried out and He didn't come running the way we think He should?

Well, I tried. God just doesn't care. Guess I'll go on living my broken life and try to circle back around with the next thing. Maybe He'll care about that one.

And I get it. Sometimes, it comes from a very honest place. Sometimes, we just don't want to feel like we're pestering God. We don't want to be whiny about our needs. We don't want to be too demanding. We want to be open to whatever grace He wants to offer. We want to be trusting, full of faith, and to us, that means asking and then waiting. Knowing that He loves us. Believing that He will answer.

What we don't get, what we miss or what's not as well-presented in the Gospels sometimes, is how persistent the people were in coming to Jesus. How insistent they were. The great lengths they went to to make sure that they had a real moment with Him, that He for sure heard them, that they got the chance to get all the way to Jesus. These parts of the stories are there, but they're the ones we read past too quickly to get to the 'good' stuff.

Zacchaeus climbed a tree. He was afraid he was going to miss it, and he knew he couldn't see well, so he kept walking along the side of the road until he found a tree he could scurry up just to see Jesus. It was because he got to this place that Jesus so naturally saw him. He put himself in a position not only to see, but to be seen.

The woman with the issue of bleeding slinked her way through the crowd. She wasn't even allowed in the crowd, and the whole group was going to become unclean because of her. That means she probably took diligent care to make sure she didn't touch anyone, even accidentally. She was measured about the steps that she took, but she took every one of them - knowing the risk it posed, knowing the trouble she would be in, knowing what it could cost her if things went sideways - to get to Jesus.

Several of the blind men stood on the side of the road and shouted, begging the passing Rabbi to heal them. They couldn't see exactly where He was; they had to go by the sounds of the crowd. So they just started crying out and didn't stop. They cried out from the time they first heard the crowd in the distance until the moment that Jesus stopped to engage with them. They cried out even after the others told them to shut up. They were hushed and shushed and silenced, and they refused to accept it; they just kept crying out. They weren't shouting once and hoping to hit the right moment; they kept shouting until they made the right moment. And it worked for them. Jesus heard them. Maybe not the first time, but that's why they couldn't give up.

It's hard for us to keep pressing in. It's hard for us to push our way to the front. It's hard for us to pray about something we've already desperately prayed about, to ask God again for a healing that didn't come the first time. It's hard for us to persist. Because we get this idea somewhere that it's supposed to be simple, that it all just happens in an instant, and that true faith just trusts.

But the real witness of the Gospels is that it's not so easy. The real testimony of the healed is that you have to keep crying out. You have to climb a tree. You have to push through the crowd. You have to take risks and have strength and keep going until you get to that place you want to be with Jesus. You have to fight for that moment. You have to want it with everything you've got, and you have to push back against a world - and sometimes, even against a faith - that tells you to shut up. You have to keep crying out because Jesus is there, He is right there, and you're so close. He's so close. Your moment isn't a split second; it's a whole scene, and this is it. Time to make it. Time to make a scene. Go for it. Cry out. Cry out again. Press through. Climb a tree. Whatever you have to do.

This is your moment. Throw yourself into it with everything you've got. It will take but a simple touch from the Savior, but you have to keep going until you get there. It's okay to keep going until you get there. 

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