Between Two Storms

Between Two Storms

Barely adrift

long after the last raging storm has passed.

The beating, scorching sun an equally opposing enemy,

and just as brutal.

Surrounded by taunting waves lapping against my parched skin.

Teasing me with their deceiving nature;

appearing as respite for my intense thirst.

Only to destroy me from the inside out.

Darkening clouds gather on the horizon.

Beckoning me.

Welcoming me.

I cling tightly to this worn buoy.

Too frightened to let go, closing my eyes.

Struggling in the current, the shadow of my

Salvation and Shelter

envelops me.

A vast and steady Rock, always within my reach.

My fingers delicately brush along the Foundation.

I know the power.

Rest for my weariness.

Food for my soul.

The Water to quench all thirst.

I must grab hold of my true anchor and surrender this

damaged

sinking

buoy.

But why can’t I release my desperate grasp?

JUST LET GO! I scream inside.

I struggle to recall

any song

any praise

any prayer

any joyous sound.

A despondent cry escapes my arid lips.

Once again, I feel your gentle breath on my sweaty brow.

Your loving hands cradle my exhausted body.

Let go, You whisper.

I feel my rigid limbs loosen.

My aching bones relax.

You calm my weepy and repentant heart.

These buoys are not real, You remind me.

We turn to face the approaching storm,

together.

Your only survival lies here

with Me,

in Christ alone.

To Touch His Hem

She winced as her stiff, gnarled fingers pulled the blood-soaked bandages away. Sharp pains radiated through her body and weariness soaked her bones. She no longer believed this constant torment would become bearable one day. Her haggard appearance was a result of harsh years and loneliness rather than old age. The life for which she dreamt as a young girl now a distant memory; she had no husband, no children, no friends. An outcast for a disease of which she had no control. The humiliating bandage changing and cleansing was now a daily reminder of her social exclusion.

Countless doctors with degrading examinations dotted the last 12 years of raw disappointment, leaving her penniless. In the end there was never a conclusion; no closer to knowing the source of her bleeding nor the cure. Always hopeful for good news, each session left her worse off than before. 

Snapping out of the brief reverie, she gathered her empty water vessels to fill from the water set aside for the unclean. Her supply was running low, making the trip unavoidable. 

Covering her head and wrapping in a thick outer garment, she began the long walk. Sliding along the shadows and avoiding eye contact, she carefully navigated the path ahead. Glancing up briefly she saw people step aside, turning their backs to avoid her. They didn’t understand her issue; even she couldn’t offer an explanation. Public rejection caused her intense anguish. Her grief was still an open wound and hope of reprieve but just a tiny flicker. 

The atmosphere was noticeably different in the marketplace and the air seemed on fire. Slowing her pace, she overheard the excitement in people’s voices.

“……a Healer…..”

“The Savior….”

“……and did you hear about the miracle……”

“…….of Nazareth, the carpenter’s boy, is here.”

This wasn’t the first time she heard of this Jesus. From birth her parents taught her the Scriptures, how to pray, and spoke of a coming Messiah. She was aware of the commotion surrounding Jesus and the people’s conflicting beliefs of His claims. Hearing Jesus was close, her chest tightened as if her heart was going to burst. She had to see Him.

The water would wait.

Backtracking, she tossed the water jugs by her door and started out again, this time with urgency. Her leaden feet quickened, pounding years of heartache into the ground beneath her sandals. 

As the woman ran toward the growing crowd of people she could feel Him near. She couldn’t see His face but didn’t need to; His presence surrounded her. The air thick with sweat and desperation, she pushed her way forward.

“If I only touch His cloak, I will be healed.” The thought replayed over and over. Her mind knew it and her heart believed. Each labored breath drew her closer to Him. Barely squeezing through the now crushing masses, she was undaunted by gasps from people she touched. 

And there He was. Walking and talking, His face turned in deep conversation with His companions. She inhaled sharply.

All of a sudden dirt coated her teeth. Shoved hard from behind, she had fallen, her knees and palms stinging from newly torn flesh. Scrambling with her last remaining energy, she lunged out to reach Him. 

Her fingertips grazed the frayed hem of his cloak.

Every sinew tingled, every deeply etched furrow softened. Her lungs gulped clean air and the supple skin of youth replaced what moments ago was tired, ashen and dry. Color returned to her eyes. The wellspring of total restoration coursed through her veins. 

She knew.

Overwhelmed with gratitude, tears formed in the corners of her eyes. He stopped, searching the crowd. She no longer heard the deafening noise around them but only His voice asking “Who touched me?” With the number of people surrounding Him, picking out a single person would have been impossible.

But He knew. 

And she knew. 

Trembling, she crawled to Him and, in barely a whisper, affirmed to Him it was she who had touched His clothes. Raising her tear-stained face to His radiant smile, she poured out her heart. 

His loving eyes never moved from her. Despite the continued clamor, He listened intently as though it were only her and Him on that dusty road. When she finished, His clear, gentle voice floated down to her. “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.”  

Staring deep in His eyes she knew He was who He said. He was the Messiah. He had healed her physical affliction and her deeply wounded spirit.

With that, He continued on the path, the crowd moving with Him. Weeping, she rose and watched as her Healer, the Son of God, got farther and farther away. Unfazed by her presence, followers jostled past her, vying to get closer to Jesus. Reveling in human touch, she savored each push and shove.

Incomparable joy overflowed from deep within her, bursting out in laughter and shouting praise.

The woman stood in the place of her miracle until she could no longer see the crowd. Then turning, she walked boldly into her new life. 

(Matthew 9:20-22; Mark 5:24-34; Luke 8:42-48)

A Widow’s Faith

“For this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘The jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the Lord gives rain on the land.’ ” 1 Kings 17:14 (NIV)

The widow’s faith awes me. Elijah gives her the word from the Lord that she is to use the very last of her resources to make food for him. Then food for her and her son.

The widow and her son were preparing to starve to death and this was to be their last meal together. Can you imagine her fear? Can you imagine her heartbreak knowing she could not save her son? As a mother, I would lay down my life for either one of my kids. I cannot fathom watching them die a slow death.

While she was collecting sticks to prepare their final meal, Elijah gives her a word from the Lord that she is to use their remaining food to FEED HIM FIRST.

Huh?

Yet, he prefaces this instruction with a key phrase reiterated throughout the Bible.

DO NOT BE AFRAID.

Oh, her faith!

She doesn’t question Elijah. He told her what the Lord said and she went forth to complete the task.

“She went away and did as Elijah had told her. So there was food every day for Elijah and for the woman and her family.” 1 Kings 17:15 (NIV)

In order to have food for everyone SHE HAD TO GO DO WHAT ELIJAH TOLD HER TO DO.

There have been many times when I was down to the bottom of the barrel. I thought I had nothing, NOTHING left. And all I needed to do was follow God’s instruction SO THAT He would provide.

Step One: Obey and follow God’s instruction.

Step Two: God provides.

And rarely does His provision come from expected sources. I have seen this time and again in my life. Months when making the rent payment seemed impossible because I needed to buy groceries or insulin, funds would come unexpectedly. Sure, there have been times I’ve asked for help; however, I believe that is the Lord working on my pride issue (that’s another post….).

Being faced with nothing beyond what you are holding in your hands and the Lord telling you to give that away or use it to further His kingdom, what would you do? What would I do?

These are the moments our faith is built and strengthened. And they are moments. We make a decision one way or the other and the opportunity to obey is gone. The widow could have walked away from Elijah but her faith in the Lord directed her steps toward obedience.

What else had she experienced in her life that her faith was so strong? The Bible doesn’t say, but I can imagine living as a widowed mother in those days was anything but easy. What were her thoughts as she gathered sticks? Had she already resigned herself and her son to an impending death?

Yet, she obeyed.

Despite what she was feeling, despite her emotions and the future she THOUGHT she and her son faced, the widow obeyed. When she obeyed, not only was she rewarded, but her son and Elijah benefited from her obedience! Who in your circle of influence or those close to you would benefit from your obedience? What future have you resigned yourself to that could be so different if you just obeyed?

I urge you (and myself!) to put in the work of building faith like the widow ~ possessing the awesome faith to use your resources for His work, with expectation, knowing the Lord always keeps His promises.