Monday, March 1, 2010


As I look out the window this morning, I realize a new day is beginning. The sky is starting to brighten up. Lights are turning on across the street. The school bus is about to go by. I am sure couples are having conversations about the hopes of the day.

Everything seems like a normal day. It seems to me that there is nothing divine going on. Yet it can’t be. In an ordinary day, there is always something extraordinary going on. Why? Because God is at work. Because He is always at work, He is working today. He is doing the work of healing, of reconciliation, of transformation.

Yet, I admit, I sometimes have a hard time seeing the extraordinary because my eyes are so often focused on the ordinary. Then the extraordinary gets lost in the background. Since I see God working in my life, I know He is working in that way. But I still wonder if He is working next door. Is He pursuing someone with His mercy down the street? He must be. I know He is working, but I wish I could see it more clearly. I wish He would make me more aware of it.

Suddenly, it hits me. If I am unable to see God at work here in my neighborhood, will I also miss His Kingdom work during my day as well? Will I miss those divine appointments that God has for me throughout the day? Will I walk by that person who is hurting and in need of love or that person who God has placed in my path whom God wants me to meet? Will I walk right by and be unaware? Oh, Lord, I don’t want to miss that person. Help me to be aware. Help me to be aware like your Son Jesus was in Mark 5:21-43.

Mark tells us about Jesus’ willingness to go to the home of Jairus, a synagogue leader. They were going there to heal his daughter. As they headed toward Jairus’ home, a large crowd followed them. Among the many people who pressed up against Jesus to hear what He was saying was a woman who had had a hemorrhage for twelve years. She had tried every doctor and every medicine. Absolutely nothing had worked. None of that mattered any more. After she had heard about Jesus, she believed that He could heal her! Her faith was so strong. She believed that all she had to do was to touch the hem of His cloak, and she would be healed. Then she got close enough to Jesus and did it!

My immediate question upon reading this text is, why did she touch his garment? Why didn’t she just ask Jesus to heal her? Why this “touch the cloak and run” mentality? I sense that she was reluctant to ask Jesus because she had been let down so many times. I think she believed what the people had told her: “Your suffering is a sign of God’s punishment. You are a sinner. God does not want you.” She had been told again and again that she was unclean and no good in God’s eyes. I believe she was a broken woman who was scared to be rejected once again.

Jesus immediately became aware that some healing power had gone out from Him. He stopped abruptly. He asked who had touched His clothes. Frightened and fearful, the woman came and fell down before Jesus. She confessed what she had done. Instead of condemning her, Jesus offered her healing! Jesus said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace and be healed of your affliction” (Mark 5:34). One brief encounter with Jesus, and she walked away a very different woman.

I think I know what Jairus was thinking as he watched this exchange between Jesus and this woman. Jairus was probably thinking only about his own situation—about his own daughter. I think he probably was trying to move Jesus along. This woman was getting in the way of what he needed. “C’mon Jesus, remember my daughter!” Shamefully, I admit I can relate. I do not have children who are sick, but I do recognize that sometimes I am quick to think first of my needs—of my family’s needs—before the needs of others. Maybe this is the reason why I can be unaware.

I had a conversation the other day with a friend. Right in the middle of the conversation, I heard a pause. I immediately knew what it was. My friend was receiving another call. Then she abruptly, at least in my selfish mind, interrupted our conversation and told me that she needed to take that call. How dare she? What about my needs? A couple minutes later, she explained that she knew her neighbor was going to have to put his dog down, and she wanted to offer him comfort and encouragement.

Like Jesus, my friend on the phone was acutely aware of what was going on around her. She noticed the opportunity to speak God’s healing words to someone who needed them. I found out later that she even invited her neighbor over to dinner that night. She was aware.

I also remember discussing this passage with my father-in-law. As we talked, I remember his speaking more about Jesus than about this woman. He noticed that Jesus noticed. Jesus was aware. Jesus sensed what God was doing around Him. Jesus was aware of the needs around Him, and He was aware of God’s power at work in Him. My father-in-law shared with me his same kind of longing to have this awareness in his own life. He wanted to be more aware of where and when God was working around him. He wanted to be able to stop in the midst of the busyness of his days and be aware.

Jesus was aware. My friend was aware—as was my father-in-law. What’s my problem? Why do I sometimes stay focused on the ordinary—on my own needs? Is it because I am always in such a rush? Is it because I do not take the time to be spiritually sensitive? What is it, Lord?

I hate to say it, but I think I might have missed the woman who touched Jesus. That bothers me. That bothers me as I look to another day. I want to be aware. I want to notice that person who is in need of encouraging words. I want to see what God is doing around me. I want to be His conduit for transformation. I want to be aware, Lord Jesus, of You—not just in my life but in all the lives around me. I want to see you, Jesus, at work across the street. I want to be able to take the time to stop and talk to my neighbor—to care about what she cares about. I want to become more and more aware.

Lord, help me to slow down and be aware of your work around me. Open my ears and lead me to the places where You are working. Stop me when I should speak to the person who is next to me. I know this is dangerous to say but, I not only want to see where You are working, but I also want more. I want Your heart as well. I want to be able to empathize. I want to ache with those who are aching. I want to be aware of someone’s deep need of You. I want Your passion. I want to be aware.

Here I go, Lord. I am off into a day that will not be ordinary—but extraordinary!


  1. It doesn't always take much. Last summer as I waited 2 hours with my two year old granddaughter for her mother's medical appointment which was to take less than 1 hour, I grew anxious. I young woman sitting across from me made eye contact and said, "It's hard to wait." That "small" word brought comfort and relief. The young woman probably has no idea she was God's instrument that morning.
    Betsy Slaughter

  2. Thank you pastor for the deep insight into the motivation of the hemorrhaging woman. She is representative of the many who come to us seeking comfort and acceptance and find only criticism, rationalizations or, worst of all, judgment. May we build that reflex that lets us reach out in empathy because we all are broken -- and here is someone whose brokenness is just a bit more evident at this moment.

  3. Thank you for these words...I

    I was raise to believe that I was "overly emotional" for being too empathetic of others. That I should focused more on my own needs and to "stay out of other peoples situations" and pay more attention to my own." These words for many years, have stayed with me and have made me feel insecure to reach out.

    The words you wrote here, have reminded me that God created and blessed me with a soft heart and that it's not a sign of weakness.

    Thank you :)

    This has and will never settle with me w