Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Risking it all...how about you?

We can be on our way toward doing one thing, but find ourselves called upon to do something else without warning. I was on my way back to bed at 3:30 this morning after tending for mom's needs - she was on her way to set the electric tea kettle to the "on" position as she was up for the day! I was heading one way with one mission in mind - sleep. Mom was headed another - with a totally different mission for me in mind! We can have our days or moments interrupted. Our desires and our plans can endure interruptions. Even our relationships and our health can be interrupted. We never know when that interruption may mean an adjustment in our course. Jesus was on his way one day to accomplish one healing he'd been called upon to do, (that of the dead daughter),  when a totally different use of his healing power was called upon, (the healing of the woman with the issue of blood). It is the woman that I wish to focus on this morning. Not specifically her need, but her faith - her faith to interrupt such an important task for the one she had in mind.

As he finished saying this, a local official appeared, bowed politely, and said, "My daughter has just now died. If you come and touch her, she will live." Jesus got up and went with him, his disciples following along. Just then a woman who had hemorrhaged for twelve years slipped in from behind and lightly touched his robe. She was thinking to herself, "If I can just put a finger on his robe, I'll get well." Jesus turned—caught her at it. Then he reassured her: "Courage, daughter. You took a risk of faith, and now you're well." The woman was well from then on. (Matthew 9:18-22)

Most of us can associate with this woman on occasion - having an intense need that just causes us to see our need as the one that needs the attention at that moment. A need so intense it warrants interrupting the ones we hold close and even Jesus. Jesus is among a huge crowd of people - each pressed in on every side - lots of onlookers and even more who were seeking his touch. Most simply waited for him to notice - in other words, they waited for him to call attention to their need. This woman did something entirely different from the crowd - she took her need to him - undaunted by the pressure of the crowd. Sometimes we wait for others to notice our need - at other times, we are like mom - setting out in determined focus to have that need met. Jesus commends this woman for her faith - stating that she took "a risk of faith" and that was what made her well. Risk is something that we "take", not something that is passive. We see an opportunity and then we respond to that opportunity - we take the risk.

We are presented with hundreds of "risky" opportunities each and every day. Think of the last time you attempted to pull your car out into oncoming traffic, or invested money on the stock market - that was a risk. The last time you bought the "bargain brand" of detergent, or the t-shirts that were on sale for an amazingly cheap price was a risk you were willing to take in order to save a little money. We take "calculated" risks each and every day. It is the "un-calculated" risk of faith that Jesus is commending here - not so much the risks we 'plan' to take. This woman did what no other in that crowd did - she moved beyond her fears of rejection, beyond the norms of the day, and touched the hem of his garment - risk at its riskiest. She seized the opportunity because she believed in the possibility. That is the reality of faith in action - looking beyond the limitations of the present to see the possibilities of the future when that future is in the hand of the Master.

To risk it all means that we expose ourselves to some things that may definitely not be in our total "comfort zone". She was a woman - in those days, to approach a man without being invited to do so was unheard of - risky business in private, much less in public. She was considered unclean by the issue of her blood - to be in the crowd that day was in violation of every "rule" of the orthodox Jew - a risk of 'religious' rule-breaking. She was desperate - moved by her need, not by her rational thought. Maybe the risk comes in not really thinking it through, but in just abandoning ourselves to our faith. Jesus honors this kind of faith - that which is centered in taking the risk of moving beyond what our minds think impossible to what our spirits believe possible. We are encouraged to move into "risky" faith - taking steps of certainty toward Jesus with our need - even when everything in us is uncertain. She pushed through the crowd - there was some resistance to her touching his garment - the resistance of the crowd, the norms, and the rules. What resistance are you facing today? It may be that resistance that is holding you back from risking it all, but when you push past it, what may you find on the other side?

Jesus did not need to acknowledge her - he could have allowed the healing to have occurred - simply by the touch of his garment. Yet, in his love and intense compassion, he stopped, turned to her, and specifically presents her with the assurance that what she desperately believed for was an accomplished fact. Jesus always moves beyond our expectations each time we take the steps of "risky" faith. He is in the business of rewarding this type of committed "exposure". What do you need to touch the Master's hem for today? What is your "issue" - that thing that requires a little more risk in your life than you might have been willing to take before? Take that 'risky thing' to him in the same type of "risky" faith - see what he will do with the commitment of your heart to bring the impossible into the very presence of the possible. Just risking it all!