Desperate to Touch the Master

She bled for seven years. Seven long years. None of the doctors could heal her. There was no treatment, no answer, no way to make things better.  The very same liquid, when poured on the altar in the Holy Place was considered a worthy sacrifice; but when it poured from her body it classified her as unworthy, unclean, untouchable creating a wall of isolation around her.

She heard the news. She listened to the stories. She hoped they were true.  All she had to do was to make her way through the crowd and get near him.  People gazed at her as she wondering why she was in public in her condition.  She pretended not to hear the mumbling pulsing in her ears. She pushed her way through the throng; she kept focused on the goal, focused on the master. Nothing would get in her way now.

Hope flowed through her as her fingertips touched the hem of his garment.

Luke 8  47 Then the woman, seeing that she could not go unnoticed, came trembling and fell at his feet. In the presence of all the people, she told why she had touched him and how she had been instantly healed.48 Then he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace.”

Blessed Women of Faith

The house was quiet. Ever since her husband lost his ability to speak, Elizabeth’s voice was the only one heard.  Zechariah had gone into the Holy Place alone and came out a mute; something Elizabeth had yet to understand.  If they had children, Zechariah’s silence might have been missed; being childless, one person’s silence could fill a room.

Zechariah tried to explain what happened behind the sacred curtain, but Elizabeth couldn’t grasp what he was trying to say.  He wanted to assure her everything was going to be fine, but Elizabeth couldn’t stop wondering.

As her mind tumbled like a marble in a box, she felt it. She stopped and put her hand to her stomach. It was like the flutter of a butterfly’s wing in her belly. What had she eaten? Was she becoming ill? The feeling passed as she began to tackle the household chores.

Weeks passed and then the feeling came again.  It was stronger now and lasted longer.  Her mind began to race and then it struck her, could she be pregnant?

Elizabeth’s hope began to grow. She fell to her knees in prayer, asking for this to be so. After so many years of barrenness , after so many years of pitying looks from her family and friends, could this be true? Could there be a child in her womb?

She ran to find Zechariah, to tell him her news.  When she came to him she could find no words to speak, she just took his hand and placed it on her stomach.  The baby moved. They stared at each other in hope and yet disbelief as joy filled their hearts!

Elizabeth and Zechariah held this news close, not wanting to share this precious gift with others.

At about the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, their niece, Mary came to visit.  When Mary entered their home and said, “Hello,” the baby in Elizabeth’s womb leaped.  Elizabeth said, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favored that the mother of my Lord should come to me? As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished!” Luke 1:42-45

Both women embraced each other relishing the gifts of life placed in their wombs.

The Proclaimer, John the Baptist, born to be great and to call all to repentance.

The Son of God, Jesus, not yet born and yet always was, is and is to come, to be born of a virgin, to be the sinless sacrifice for all who believe.

Story based on Luke 1

 

A Sign

Luke 2:11-12 (NIV) 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

luke-2-10

I sat at the foot of my mother’s recliner watching her die.

If my mother’s body had been a car she would have been able to trade it in for a new one.  From emergency caesarian births, hernias, knee replacements, cysts, and the like my mother always seemed to have the need to be under a doctor’s care.  This time was different. Mom had cancer.

The diagnose came in October.  Four short months  and more than 25 radiation treatments later her body was finally giving up its fight.

I sat at her feet clutching my bible so tightly to my chest my hands cramped. This may sound strange, but I wanted to eat it; to chew the pages of words I had been raised believing and make them a part of me.

Relax, I didn’t do it.

Questions rattled in my head. Were God’s promises true? Was heaven real? Would I truly be with my mom again? Was this the end of her life or the beginning of her new one?

My mom and dad had grown up in church and both loved to sing. They met in choir, renamed the Passion Pit, with altos marrying the basses, sopranos marrying the tenors. Church was important, a big part of our lives and this was passed on to me.

I grew up attending Sunday School, involved in junior and senior choir, attended youth group; all practices resulting in my continued church in my adult life. I read the Word, studied it, proclaimed it to be true.  I spoke at women’s events, wrote retreats and led bible breakfasts encouraging others to believe in Jesus.

Here I sat with the rubber meeting the road, watching my mother die.

What if everything about Jesus wasn’t true?

That’s when I asked for a sign.

I’m not proud that I asked for proof, but I did. Fervently I prayed for a sign-anything that would prove my mom was passing onto eternal life and not disappearing forever.  I wanted anything- a light, sound, an audible word from God to dispel my doubts and solidify my faith. Tears streaming down my face still clinging to the Word, I prayed for a sign.

None came.

Mom died along with a part of me.

Life felt weird, like I was wearing an itchy sweater. My questions remained unanswered and my heart felt empty.

I made a concerted effort to read and absorb the words in the Bible, nothing seemed to break through. Mechanically I chose to believe in Jesus and continued to live in the Word.

Honestly I still wanted a sign.

A few weeks after my mom’s funeral I had a dream.

I dreamed I was sitting at a table in a country kitchen with many family members sharing a meal.  The door opened and my mother came in. Stunned I murmured, “Mom!” and began to rise up from the table.  Mom headed straight for me. By the time she reached me I was crying with joy as we embraced.

The strange thing about this dream?

I FELT HER ARMS AROUND ME IN REAL LIFE!

daughter-hugging-mom

You can chose to say that I made this whole thing up, but it was true.  Almost ten years later I can still feel her arms around my shoulders comforting me in my grief.  Our meeting was real and I know I will be reunited with her in heaven.

I still miss my mother-some days more than others. I am comforted with the firm knowledge that she is safe in the arms of Jesus. At the end of my life, I WILL be with her and we will be able to hug for eternity. My comfort comes in knowing, without a doubt, that I wasn’t just taught faith, it was given to me as a gift and His truth lives in my heart.

May you be blessed with the knowledge that you are deeply loved by our great God!

1-john-5-13

Hope in a Jar

She was desperate and broken.

She dreams about a new way to live.  She needed healing. She needed forgiveness.

She needed hope.

She heard stories about the man who healed the sick, gave sight to the blind, and made the lame walk.  He could heal her.  He could restore her. But how could she get near him?

Those disciples who traveled with him-they wouldn’t let her, a sinful woman, enter their holy circle.  He was so special, so unique, so very perfect and so clean. She was none of those things.

Tears ran down her cheeks as she rocked back and forth, holding herself and longing for hope.  She felt only despair.  She had nothing to give, no way to get his attention, no money to bargain with.

Through eyes blurred with tears she saw the jar across the room. The jar filled with pure nard so fragrant the scent filled the room. The scent filled her soul as an idea sprang within her heart.

Maybe she could use the perfume to gain entrance to Jesus.  She heard the whispers near the well just that afternoon, He was planning to eat with Lazarus and his friends at Bethany.

With nothing to lose, she picked up the jar and headed for the only one who could turn her life around.

She walked towards hope.

Story based on Matthew 26:6-13

Come

 

Mist settled on the water as gentle waves lapped along the side of the boat. Events of the day kept rattling in Peter’s head. News of John’s beheading was too much to bear. Then feeding more than 5,000 people with 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish and having 12 baskets of food left over; how could this be?

Was this Jesus, this man who ate, drank, walked, spoke with us; could he truly be the Son of God?

They saw people healed. They saw dead people brought back to life. They drank the water that was turned into wine, and yet they questioned.

Peter picked up the oars and began to gently row towards shore.  As he lifted his head, he saw something in the mist, a figure walking on the water.

Blinking his eyes, Peter looked more intently as the form of a man began to materialize.  His heart raced and he got the attention of the others in the boat.  “Wake up!  Look over there! There’s someone coming toward us!”

The boat began to rock as everyone rolled over one another to get a better view of the apparition in the mist.  Voices grew as did the tension. Someone yelled, “It’s a ghost!”

Jesus immediately said to them, “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”

This is impossible! How could a man walk on water? Why wasn’t he sinking?

Peter couldn’t help himself as he blurted out, “Lord, if it’s You tell me to come to You on the water.”

Jesus’ reply was simple. He said, “Come.”

Peter’s heart continued to race. He carefully stood in the boat. Prepared to go swimming Peter moved toward the stern, lifted the hem of his garment and put his right leg over the side.

Timidly Peter put his foot onto the water.  The coolness felt good on the bottom of Peter’s foot.  His ankle remained dry.  Peter put more of his body weight onto his right leg, brought his left leg over the side and then stood.

Peter didn’t sink. Peter was standing on the lake.

Boldly Peter began to walk towards Jesus.  He was amazed that he wasn’t sinking.  Peter couldn’t fathom this miracle even though it was happening to him!

A gentle breeze began to blow. Waves began to form. Peter’s attention left his Savior and focused on the change in the weather. Peter began to sink. Fear ripped into Peter’s heart forcing him to shout, “Lord, save me!”

Before Jesus even said a word, He stretched out His hand and caught Peter in His arms.

As the Son of God embraced His disciple He said, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?”

 

Story based on Matthew 14:22-31

 

 

Busted yet Blessed

“Hurry! We have guests!” shouted Sarah as she rushed into the tent. Sarah looked as she felt, anxious and harried as she began to fill Abraham’s request.

The three visitors seemed to have come out of thin air. The way Abraham was acting told Sarah they must be important. As Abraham began to wash their feet, Sarah began to cook.

The yeasty aroma reached her nose as Sarah’s thoughts returned to the three men. She kneaded the bread. Punch. Fold. Roll. Who were they? Where did they come from? A little more flour, punch. Fold. Roll. What did they want with us?

Abraham brought the prepared calf into the tent and took a moment to look at his wife. His thoughts rolled through the many years with this beautiful, faithful woman. How could he have been so richly blessed?

“Sarah, please let me know when this meat is ready to be served to our guests.” Sarah responded, “Of course my lord.” With a playful gleam in her eye she asked, “Will you be telling these men I’m your wife or your sister?” They both smiled remembering old times together under very different circumstances. Abraham gently touched her elbow and gave her a peck on the cheek.

As Abraham left the tent, Sarah put the bread into the oven for baking. She jerked the handle of the wooden paddle causing the bread pans to slide. At the same time she heard her name, as clear as a bell; they were talking about her.

The question was asked, “Where is your wife Sarah?”

Where did they think she was? In Timbuktu? Of course she was in the tent, who else was going to feed them?

The question acted as a rope pulling her towards the door. She wanted to hear more. Eavesdropping? No! Indignantly she thought she was just “overhearing” a conversation. Since they were discussing her, why shouldn’t she listen?

Sarah continued to move closer.

“Where is your wife, Sarah?” Well at least they knew she was Abraham’s wife and not his sister!

Abraham responded, “There, in the tent,” as he lifted his hand to show which one.

It was then Sarah heard the most hilarious statement of her life. “I will surely return to you about this time next year and Sarah your wife will have a son.”

Forgetting where she was, Sarah burst out laughing. “Are you kidding me?” she thought. “After I am worn out and my master is old, will I now have this pleasure?” Sarah continued to laugh and then began to compose herself as the conversation continued.

“Why did Sarah laugh and say, ‘Will I really have a child now that I am old?’ Is anything too hard for the Lord? I will return to you at the appointed time next year and Sarah will have a son.”

Ice ran through her veins as Sarah’s cheeks began to flush. She realized these men, these very important men, caught her. They heard her laughter. She was busted.

Sarah did what most of us would do. She lied and said, “I did not laugh.”

It was then the man looked at her. The man with eyes that seemed to look into her heart. The eyes that knew her story. The eyes that knew her deep desire to have a child. Those eyes that saw into her very being replied, “Yes, you did laugh.”

Sarah had no response. He knew.

Embarrassed, Sarah returned to the tent to finish the meal. For the rest of the visit, Sarah remained quiet and away from the group of four as they conversed about heavenly things. After a time the visitors left and Abraham returned to the tent.

Knowing his wife, Abraham came to Sarah and just hugged her.

“Do you believe him?” Sarah asked.

Abraham replied, seeming confused, “Believe who about what?” It was obvious that Abraham had other things on his mind.

“Typical man! Didn’t you hear what that man said? He said we will have a son by next year. Do you believe him?” Sarah asked.

Playfully Abraham replied, “Sarah, we talked about many things today, not just that.” As Abraham began to play with a lock of Sarah’s hair, he began to stroke the shoulder of his wife of many years. Abraham simply said, “Yes, I do believe him.” He began to kiss her.

Sarah began to question, “Why do you believe him? What else did they say?”

Sarah’s mouth was covered with kisses from the man she had lived with for most of her life. No more questions were asked that night.

Her answer came about a year later when her son, Isaac was born.

“By faith, Abraham, even though he was past age-and Sarah herself was barren-was enabled to become a father because he considered him faithful who had made the promise. And so from this one man, and he as good as dead, came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore. Hebrews 11:11-12 NIV”

Out of Time

time

My friend was killed this week.

I remember when he chased my sister through her house with a garden snake; it was hysterical!  I remember when he was a bouncer at a local bar and kept an eye on my sister and I while we danced.  I remember when my husband and I were having lunch at a diner 2 hours away from our home, looked out the window, and he was there.

He and his then finance’ were on their way to visit her daughter at college. Funny, it was the same time of the year then as it is now. We invited them to eat with us.  We caught up on old times and dreamed about times to be as we drenched delicious French fries in ketchup and wiped burger juice from our chins.  This happenstance meeting has been etched in my memory because of his parting words.  He said, “I want what you guys have.  Family. Love.  A long-time relationship.”

At one point of his life, he was with the wrong crowd and wound up doing 18 months in a prison in upstate New York.   I wrote to him often trying to keep in contact, encouraging him, and giving him hope for when he completed his sentence.  When Christmas came around I asked everyone I knew to send him a Christmas card at the jail. How lonely it must be in prison.  Hearing from his friends brought up his spirits and covering the walls of his cell with Christmas cards brought him joy.

His life turned around when he got out.  He got a job with a local tree trim contractor, got married, and was surrounded by people who seemed to love and respect him.  A few Christmas’ ago, we met friends at a local pub.  He and about 10 members of his family were there and he looked great!  He was retired, having a blast, enjoying his family and seemed to be very happy.

A few short months ago, he posted on Facebook that he was leaving his family and moving to Florida.

Last Tuesday, he was shot and killed.

I don’t know why. I don’t know the circumstances. Honestly, does it matter?  It really doesn’t.  What matters is if he knew Jesus or not.  Is he in heaven or hell?

Maybe the “thing” he saw in Rob and I was Jesus.  Maybe the piece of our lives he wanted was the security of our Savior.  Maybe the Christmas cards he got in jail had messages of hope, joy and the love of Christ.

Just maybe.

I can only pray that he accepted our Lord’s gift of grace.

I can only hope.

Linda GutereOctober, 2016