6am morning run. We’d meet at the corner, start up the hill, and she’d open the conversation with, “How are you doing?” It was years ago, but I’m still so grateful for the question, and knew exactly what she was getting at.
My answer often felt unsatisfying. I wanted to report that I was better, healed, happy, that all was well with my soul. But I couldn’t, because it wasn’t.
But there I was getting out of bed at 5:30am, going for a five mile run, and chatting even….with a person. A good friend, of course, but even seeing people during that time was not so easy.
I keep thinking about that woman I wrote about last week. The one in Luke 8. The one who fearfully (I’m assuming) and humbly, yet courageously and expectantly reached out and touched the hem of Jesus’ robe. I’ve been staying in the gospels for reading lately, and she stands out to me, along with several others Jesus touched. Hers, though, may be the only account of someone intentionally seeking, reaching out, and literally touching Him with a specific hope.
This is what I wrote:
Especially precious to me is the story of the woman with the long term issue of bleeding who anonymously reached out and touched the fringe of Jesus’ cloak. She was immediately healed of her chronic illness, and Jesus knew immediately that someone had touched Him even though there were hordes of people pressing in on Him. When He investigates and she comes forward, He says
“Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace.”
So, I’d run the miles and answer Betsy’s question and tell her that I was okay. Okay, but not well. Okay, but not exactly healed in the way I’d been hoping for. This continued for several years, and oh how badly I wanted to give a different answer each week. To report that the sadness had lifted, that the tears had dried up, that I was hopeful again, that I was free from despair.
Betsy has moved away now, and I miss her, but if we met for an early morning Thursday run this week, I’d be able to give her a different answer.
Here it is: He has made me well.
I wish I could say that it was upon my first effort to reach out and touch Him. (Or do I?) That Jesus and I were both immediately aware that power had gone forth from Him and dramatically into me, but that wasn’t how it worked in my case.
Remember that podcast interview I told you about? Well, this season of depression in my life is one direction that conversation took, and when Bethany asked about how I made it through those years, my answer felt unsatisfactory again. Not to Bethany, of course, but to me – even though the answer I gave is really the only one I know to give to anyone who finds themselves in a season like that:
I prayed and read my Bible.
Yep. That Sunday School answer. That cliche.
Oh, I also did a lot of distance running, a lot of right eating, a lot of water drinking, some biblical counseling, some vitamin D taking, and some intentional resting. And those things certainly set a good stage, but I know it was the praying and the reading (and the receiving and the meditating and the practicing) that performed the true healing.
In fact, God promises that it will. Just take a look at these verses, which have come to be favorites:
As the rain and the snow come down from heaven,
and do not return to it without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire
and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.
Isaiah 55: 10-11
His Word (now our Bible) accomplishes just what the rain and snow accomplish: growth, good fruit, nourishing food. God gives His Word to accomplish our growth and our healing. He uses it to produce good fruit in our lives. And just as it is a guarantee that things will grow when they are watered, the same guarantee holds for those who take in His Word.
Remember how I mentioned right eating as a part of healing? Well, I did eat literal food. Still do. Good and healthy food. But as you can see, His Word is to be our food, too, and we need it daily.
Both kinds of food – literal and biblical – provide the faith that make us well.
But, here’s the deal: It took time.
And here’s the other thing: Reading His Word is not just a recipe we use for healing from depression or anxiety or physical illness or heartache or grief or loneliness. Nor is it a way to bargain with or manipulate God. Neither is prayer. Both are to be our way of life, not tools we whip out when we really want something from God.
Can you imagine if your friends or children only spent time with you when they wanted something?
My daily, hopeful, and expectant reaching out and touching Jesus by reading His Word was how He made me well. Many days that was a choice by faith, an act of my will in obedience…and expectation.
So was the running, the eating, the meeting and more. And He finally met me…with true wellness. I’d say it’s been about two years now.
Word fueled faith in Jesus makes us well, like I wrote last week…safe, kept safe and sound, rescued from danger or destruction – meaning the danger and destruction of sin, and faith also makes us well…thriving, strong, resilient, sane, healthy, hearty, and more.
Hers was a courageous choice in the midst of what must have been a season of great weakness, but her touch displayed a faith that resulted in complete wellness.
And hers is a story I read in His Word.