This morning I woke up on the Sea of Galilee!
Being lakeside holds a special place in my heart - oft glassy in the morning with winds coming up in the afternoon, surface smoothing out once again before dusk. Ah...
Traveling to Israel, walking in the footsteps of Jesus means half the time is usually spent on and around the beautiful Sea of Galilee - actually, a lake. And one of my favorite places along the lake is Magdala on the western shore. I am captivated by the recent unearthing of a first century synagogue, silencing those who said the Gospels had it wrong - that Jesus had taught in synagogues on the western shore of the Galilee. Shovels hit pay dirt in 2008, as the synagogue at Magdala emerged from the ground. 1,2 A second synagogue was unearthed in December, 2021. Again: important because it verifies another truth from the gospels.3
Besides being the hometown of one Mary Magdalene - you know the one - last at the cross, and first at the tomb - it was also the scene of a gallant, courageous, faith-filled gesture that changed my life many years ago. From Mark's gospel, chapter 5, there's the story of an unnamed woman, desperate to get well. I love this story because it is so simple . . . what the woman did, anyone could do .
Sick for twelve years, she had used all her money on doctors who had not cured her. The King James Version describes her as having 'an issue of blood', meaning she had been menstruating for 12 years (nightmare!) In first-century Jewish culture, she was an outcast because she was unclean, and she could not even participate in ceremonial cleansing to get clean! She could not go to worship God, and no one could touch her or they too would be unclean-not even her husband. She was desperately lonely and beaten down.
But she heard that Jesus, the healing rabbi, was coming to town and tried to get to him, knowing he could heal her. On that day as usual, the crowds were pressing around him, so she lunged to touch the hem of his garment as he passed by on the street. He stopped, turned around and asked 'who touched me?' His disciples said, 'Lord, look around you--lots of people touched you.' 'No, I felt the power leave my body .' You see, when Jesus performed miracles, he felt the power pass out of his body--he was fully aware that healing was taking place. 'Who touched me? '
With eyes cast down, the woman answered, 'I did--I touched you.' She thought he was going to shame her then, that she should be so bold . . . but no, not Jesus. He looked at her, probably like no one had looked at her in a long time, and said, 'Woman, your faith has made you whole.'
I remember a particular desperate time in my life when I wasn't sure what to pray. . . sure, I wanted God's will, but what was it? It was then that this story came alive for me. Though I could quote Scripture aplenty, it was not Scripture I needed then-I needed a touch from God. Though I could easily recite the Lord's Prayer, it would not suffice either. I became that woman in the marketplace, reaching out to touch the hem of the garment of the One who could make me whole. A one-word prayer was all I needed - a simple "Jesus," breathed in quiet desperation. I pictured myself reaching out to touch the hem of his garment because I knew he could make me whole. Yes, he alone could make me whole!
Have you ever bowed your head to pray but could not find the right words? You knew you wanted to pray-you wanted to connect with God-wanted the heart connection with your Heavenly Father, but you just did not know how to put into words what was in your heart. Perhaps you were worn out, and 'had nothin'. Most times, circumstances clearly show how and for what we ought be praying--healing, comfort, peace, etc. Then, there are those times when it is difficult to tell what the right thing would be--confusing to ascertain the will of God, so what then? What words do you pray?
Here's a very simplistic thought, a plan a child could grasp - picture your hand reaching out to touch the hem of Jesus' garment, at the same time breathing Jesus' name. Reach out and touch the hem of Jesus' garment because he is enough. 'Jesus' - a one-word prayer.
Do you have something in your life that needs healing? Come on, extend your hand and picture touching the hem of his garment . . . breathe out His name - he will meet you right where you are.
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