6-25-15 - into the Light

The woman who crept forward in the crowd to touch Jesus’ garment, believing he had so much spiritual power that even his clothes would be charged with healing, felt immediately that her bleeding had stopped. Twelve years of hemorrhage from what today might be diagnosed as uterine fibroids, and just like that, she felt the flow stop. She knew she was healed. She began to make her way out of the crowd again, rejoicing, yet unable to tell anyone what she’d done.

But she was not to make a neat escape. For Jesus felt the power go out of him as vividly as she felt the healing take hold – Mark uses the word “immediately” to describe both their experiences. And Jesus wanted to know who had touched his clothes.

He looked all round to see who had done it. But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling, fell down before him, and told him the whole truth. He said to her, ‘Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.’

This is even braver than her stealth “power grab.” She could have pulled a “Who, me? Who did that?” and kept moving until she was safely away. But something made her come forward and reveal herself. Which meant revealing the whole truth – of her disease, her impurity in the eyes of the religious law, her attempt to remain anonymous. She simply had too much integrity to sneak away. And maybe she also felt too much gratitude. So she came forward into the light, fearful, humble and perhaps humiliated, falling at his feet just as Jairus had. And Jesus affirms her faith and confirms her healing – a complete healing, in body and spirit. Now she can go in peace, for the first time in a very long time.

Are there burdens or infirmities of mind or body that you have carried for a long time? Illness? Chronic pain? Anxieties, resentments, disappointments, shame, poverty, disease, fear of disease? Can you imagine feeling freed of that burden? That is what happened for that woman, and I believe God wants us to experience the same freedom and peace.

One step is to reach out for healing, the way she did. The next is to come fully into the light of Jesus’ presence, to tell our whole story – either directly, in prayer, or mediated to another person of faith – and lay ourselves at God’s mercy. That is hard to do – to relinquish control like that. And yet so many have found it to be the beginning of freedom and wholeness. That is what every addict has to do in recovery, and I suspect it is a universal principle, that we need to surface and bring into the light all that holds us back from experiencing the fullness of love and life God desires for us.

That includes confessing our own sin, being willing to forgive others and ourselves. And mostly it means telling our stories, getting them out of the storage bins in our psyche and into the light, shared with others to bring life and hope to their lives. More and more in our day we are recovering the power of story to bring healing, for survivors of abuse or crime, gang members breaking free, people in addiction recovery, even in courtrooms for nations seeking to heal after decades of corruption and violence. The Truth and Reconciliation movement that began in South Africa after apartheid and has been successfully implemented elsewhere is based on telling our hard stories and having them heard. Amazing freedom and healing can flow from that simple act.

Our unnamed woman was healed in body before she came forward. In telling her story, she opened herself up to the full healing Jesus had for her, wholeness in mind and spirit. That can be our gift too, as we share our stories and invite healing in.

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