Push through crowds (and crowded thoughts) and Jesus will push through too
Alone with God.
That is why I awaken early. I want to spend quiet time alone with God before starting my workday.
And so I switch off the radios in the kitchen and the laundry room, too distracting even from the rocking chair with its whirring shiatzu massage pad in a corner of the den. With a cup of coffee in hand, I let the pad massage my back as I sit and read through a devotion and Scripture passages. Then I move to the big, comfy chair nearer the entrance to our den to write in my journal.
Did you notice the “our” in that paragraph? It’s significant. I share the house, not just with my dear husband but also with Tori the Cat. (She saved my life once, that story here, and reminds me that I owe her the prestige of calling her by her full name, which includes Cat with a capital C, plus petting on demand for life.) Sigh.
This is how the day’s writing started:
Dear Father, I have a cat jumping from armrest to armrest, stopping only to chew on my pen and otherwise get in my business. I have a dear husband sitting on the toilet in the bathroom 10 steps from me — with the door open, no less.
This doesn’t make for a quality quiet time — though that is my goal. What do you want to say to me today?
My mind is on a thousand things…
[I write this before I give God a chance to speak. Then I write God a list of things on my mind — in well-constructed sentences written in purple ink, complements of the 11th Pilot fountain pen from my box of 12. Oh, I need to remember to order more!]
Now my husband is conversing with me, so my mind is focused on Stinky Steve.
Can you speak above the noise?
[I write down a couple more of my thousand thoughts before I give Him a chance to speak to me. Then, finally, I give Him the chance.]
Remember, my dear, the woman with the issue of blood? She reached out and touched the hem of my garment — and I felt my power go out to her and heal her. She received what she sought by faith — despite the surrounding crowd.
My child, reach for the hem of my garment despite the distractions. Reach for me.
Moments before I had read a Psalm, the passage in the book of Acts in which Paul travels to Rome despite prophecies that he would be held captive, and chapters in the book of 2 Kings. Not the story of the woman healed from her “issue of blood” or “hemorrhages” as Eugene Peterson calls the issue in The Message Bible.
Here’s the story:
43-45 In the crowd that day there was a woman who for twelve years had been afflicted with hemorrhages. She had spent every penny she had on doctors but not one had been able to help her. She slipped in from behind and touched the edge of Jesus’ robe. At that very moment her hemorrhaging stopped. Jesus said, “Who touched me?”
When no one stepped forward, Peter said, “But Master, we’ve got crowds of people on our hands. Dozens have touched you.”
46 Jesus insisted, “Someone touched me. I felt power discharging from me.”
47 When the woman realized that she couldn’t remain hidden, she knelt trembling before him. In front of all the people, she blurted out her story—why she touched him and how at that same moment she was healed.
48 Jesus said, “Daughter, you took a risk trusting me, and now you’re healed and whole. Live well, live blessed!”Luke 8:43-48, MSG
In the passage above, I want to highlight two things: “in the crowd” and the fact that “she slipped in from behind and touched the edge of Jesus’ robe.”
This woman was “in the crowd” — not just the presence of one nosy cat and a chatty male insomniac. Earlier in the chapter, Jesus was surrounded by a crowd so dense that His mother and brothers couldn’t reach Him. This was a crowd.
She was motivated to reach the one person who offered her hope of healing. She had suffered for 12 years from the same problem and spent every penny she had to no avail. She was exhausted — physically and fiscally. She was considered “unclean” in Jewish society because of her ailment — so she likely had been ostracized and, therefore, alone.
Did she approach Jesus from behind because she feared He wouldn’t welcome her either?
Or maybe it was because Jesus had started to walk away from her?
For just before this woman’s encounter with Jesus, a synagogue leader, Jairus, came to Jesus and fell at His feet, begging Him to come to his house because his daughter was dying. Jesus immediately went with Jairus.
“As Jesus was on his way, the crowds almost crushed him,” the New International Version of Luke 8:43 reads. Picture Jesus making His way through the pressing crowd to get to Jairus’ dying daughter. It was at this moment the woman with the issue of blood reached toward the departing Savior and touched his garment.
And received healing. Her desperate, determined faith healed her. Jesus felt it. He stopped. Though He had been on a mission to heal Jairus’ daughter, He stopped to acknowledge this daughter’s act of faith. He then blessed her before He returned to His previously scheduled agenda.
But the delay was long enough for Jairus’ daughter to die before Jesus reached her. “Don’t be afraid, just believe and she will be healed,” Jesus told Jairus, before he could despair at the news (Luke 8:50, NIV). The man had just seen the power of Jesus — and the power of faith. He had reason to believe.
A desperate woman and a busy Savior
I have two images in my mind as I consider this story:
- A desperate woman who sees Jesus as her only hope pushes beyond the crowd, beyond the social constraints, beyond anything that might prevent her from touching the hem of His garment.
- A busy Savior pushing through the crowd to save a life stops what He’s doing for this woman of faith.
She was already healed — just by touching His garment. He could have continued his rush to Jairus’ daughter. But He stopped and gave her His blessing — publicly. She was healed physically and socially.
And Jesus was able to accomplish His goal anyway: perfect health for Jairus’s daughter. He just raised her from the dead instead of her death bed. And maybe that was His plan all along.
My mother was a good example of Jesus to me. She may have been on a mission, busily tapping at her keyboard an article on a deadline, but she always stopped when I needed her.
Not begrudgingly either. So willing. I want to be more like her.
I’m not saying that I am wrong to desire time alone with God. I’m not saying I shouldn’t purchase a pair of noise-cancelling headphones. I’m not saying I shouldn’t prevent my cat from chewing on my pen while I’m trying to write.
I’m saying this: Like the woman with the issue of blood, I can push through my crowded thoughts to touch His garment. Like Jesus, I can stop what I’m doing (even if it’s important) and listen to my husband to show I value him– even when he’s silly (and smelly). I can calm my cat with a few strokes of my hand and allow her near as I spend time “alone” with God.
Jesus can still accomplish His goals in me, too. How about you, Dear Reader?
I finished my prayer time with this simple request:
Help me reach the hem of your garment this morning, Lord. May I be so expectant and persistent. Help me keep this visual in mind.
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