The Touch of Faith
One of the Rulers
This story takes place on the other side of the lake, opposite Decapolis. Jesus had left there a disappointed man. The man came out of the tombs dragging the broken chains that had failed to hold him. From a wretched life of crying day and night in the mountains and cutting himself with stones, he was now delivered from the demons that had possessed him.
Overjoyed with his newfound freedom, the man (now clothed and in his right mind), fell down at the feet of Jesus and begged for the privilege to follow Jesus. But Jesus told him, "Go home and tell your friends what the Lord has done for you!" So, he did just that. And everyone in the city was amazed at the change they saw in his life.
When Jesus and the disciples arrived by ship on the other side of the lake, a large crown of people gathered around Him. And in the crowd was another desperate man by the name of Jairus, one of the rulers of the synagogue. He fell down at the feet of Jesus pleading for help.
"My little daughter, the only one I have, is dying! Right now, she is at the point of death. She's only twelve years old. Please, I beg you, come and lay your hands on her, heal her, and she will live!"
Jesus immediately followed Jairus as he led the way to his house. But the crowds surrounded them, pressing in. Slowly, O so slowly, they tried to move forward.
A Certain Woman
In the mass of people, a certain woman was desperate with her own serious problem. She had been bleeding for twelve years. She had been under the care of many physicians. She had spent her entire life savings, hoping for a cure, but was not any better. In fact, she was getting weaker, bleeding more and more. Now, weak and seeing her last chance to reach the Healer, she reached out in one last effort to touch the border of the Master's robe.
Immediately, she felt the fountain of blood dry up. She knew she was healed! The plague was gone!
And immediately Jesus felt the flow of healing virtue depart from him. He turned about and called out, "Who touched my clothes?"
The woman, who had hoped to quietly slip away and return home to privately rejoice, realized that she was discovered. Trembling and afraid, she also fell down at the feet of Jesus and poured out her miserable story of bleeding for twelve long years.
Father in Panic
Jairus must have been alarmed with this interruption. What is happening here? Time is wasting! My house is right over there! My daughter is acutely ill, in extremis! Let's triage these cases by urgent priorities! Sequence the acute cases first!
Peter also agrees. "What do you mean, 'Who touched me?' Everyone is touching you, pushing, shoving, clamoring for your attention. What kind of a question is that?"
But Jesus is indeed thinking of Jairus. Listen to what this woman is saying, Jairus. This is for you! Listen to her faith. You must have faith, too!
Jesus looks tenderly into the frightened woman's face and says, "Fear not, Daughter, your faith has made you whole. Go in peace."
And just as Jesus said these words, a messenger came from Jairus' house and told him, "Your daughter is dead. There is no need to trouble the Healer any further."
But immediately, Jesus turned to Jairus and said, "Fear not, only believe, and your daughter will be made whole as well." Jairus, there is no fear in love. This woman believed and now is filled with love and joy. You must believe and love; then fear will vanish for you as well.
Two Bleeding Women
The moment the woman who had been bleeding for twelve years touched Jesus, her bleeding stopped. That same moment a much younger woman who had lived in the bloom of life for twelve years stopped living. Linked in time, they were also linked in life.
The woman began bleeding when the young girl began living.
The woman stopped bleeding when the young girl stopped living.
"The life is in the blood." Leviticus 17:11.
For four millennia the blood of animals had been pouring out, teaching the believers in coming Lamb of God that one day the bleeding would stop. The Son of God would lay down His life that we might live. "In this is manifested the love of God because that God sent His only begotten Son into the world that we might live through him." 1John 4:9.
But the grave could not hold him. "Whom God has raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be held by it." Acts 2:24. And "when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: they that hear shall live." John 5:25.
Do not Fear Sleep
Jesus arrives at the home of Jairus, his wife and his sleeping twelve-year-old daughter. Yes, sleeping. That's what Jesus said. And the mourners, who were hired to wail and cry, stopped their weeping and began to laugh. They saw the girl breath her last, they knew she was dead. Look how long she has been lying there, silent, still, motionless, now cold and without question lifeless. What do you mean, "Asleep?" We know death when we see it.
But Jesus simply shows them the door and then closes it. The Giver of life is present. Fear not, Jairus. And then tenderly, Jesus picks up the little hand. He holds it in His own, and gives the gentle command, "Talitha, cumi," Damsel, arise.
And she does. "If a man die, shall he live again?" Job 14:14. For that matter, 'If a Damsel dies, shall she live again?' Yes, indeed! "All the days of my appointed time will I wait, till my change come. You will call, and I will answer."
What a story! Fear not! Only believe, and Jesus will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4.
Freedom at Night
By Alexandra Wiebe Hullquist
It was 9:00 PM on that December 31, 2012. The midwinter night was still, the full moon and stars shown brightly on the crusty snow, as I walked down the winding, steep mountainous gravel road. Though there was no light, as my eyes adjusted to the darkness, the moon was sufficient to keep me on the right track. I was all alone with my thoughts which jumbled around in my head. Where I’d spend the night was no question. The house still stood empty in the little country village below the mountain, and I knew I could stay the night there. The phone was still there, too. But where would I go tomorrow? How would I contact anybody? What would I do when I got there? What would the future hold?
The only sound was the crunch, crunch, crunch of my knee-high, fleece-lined leather boots on the crusty and gravelly road. Though the many wild boars who roamed the area posed a very potential danger, somehow I didn’t feel scared of being out alone at that time of night. Nothing could be as threatening as what I had left behind.
In each hand I held onto the straps of a zippered, vinyl shopping bag stuffed with bare necessities to last me for. . . only - God - knew how long. I had a couple changes of clothing, passports, address book, a few toiletries, a diary, my Bible, and a coin purse containing about the equivalent of $100.00. That was really all I needed to get where I planned to go. In order to reduce what I needed to carry, I was wearing many layers. Earlier as I’d methodically chosen each article and put them on, my thoughts had drifted to Heidi, wearing all the clothes she owned on her way to her grandfather’s house on the mountain. I had ruefully and silently chuckled to myself.
But how was I going to get to my sons when I didn’t know exactly where they lived, didn’t have their phone number, or even the names of their hosts? It would be a solitary two kilometer walk down to the village, so I’d have time to think about what to do and pray for guidance to do the right thing. With each step and breath of the fresh, chilly night air, my nerves calmed more and more while a plan formed in my mind. Somehow I had the assurance that God would take care of me. He would see me through.
As soon as I arrived at the vacated house in the little farming village, I turned on the electric heater fan that remained there, attempting to cut the chill of the unheated house. I quickly located the phone number of our pastor and dialed, hoping he could provide me with the number I needed. As soon as I explained my situation, he promised to see what he could do to help. Very shortly the phone rang and my heart warmed to hear my eldest son’s voice, on the other end. First of all, I got his phone number and how to find the house where they were staying. As we were talking a little more about my situation, my husband suddenly opened the sliding door, immediately to my right, which opened into the room where I was sitting talking on the phone. With a dark, foreboding tone, he demanded I give him the the phone.
I complied, as if in a daze, picked up my two bags, calmly walked out, shutting the door behind me, and dashed out of the yard. I knew I would have a little time to hide, while he talked to our son.
God, save me and help me find a place to hide from him! I cried out as I frantically ran down the village road. Not too far from the house, but to the left off the main road and far enough to be unnoticed, I ran into the farthest corner of a huge greenhouse owned by a neighboring farmer. It had been vacated for the winter time, and I hoped my husband would not think to look there. As I stood in the shadows, my heart pounded like it would explode. Into my mind flashed all the stories I’d read about the Waldenses, or other Christians, running from their pursuers. God, help him not to look here! Protect me, please!! I screamed inside my head.
Soon I heard footsteps coming in my direction. My palms got sweaty, and my heart beat even faster. Surely he can hear me breathing, and my heart pounding inside my chest. Oh Lord, hide me! To my great relief, instead of veering to the left off from the village road to the greenhouses as I had done, his footsteps continued on down the road, and got quieter and quieter, until I knew he was gone. Before demanding the phone, my husband had told me he’d walked down from the mountain, just as I had. This knowledge gave me the calming assurance that once he walked away, he’d not come back. At least not tonight.
When I was sure all was safe, I returned to the house to catch a little sleep before the morning. The electric heating fan offered just enough heat to supplement my long down coat and warm boots so I would not freeze to death during the cold winter night. I pulled together the two chairs in the room for a makeshift bed and positioned myself in the most comfortable way possible. Then before dozing off to sleep, I formulated my next move. There was a bus stop just outside of the village, but I didn’t plan on using it since I didn’t know how early the first bus would come. I would walk the few kilometers into the next town instead, and catch one from there.
I awoke to the phone ringing, and quickly answered it. The lady of the house, where my two sons were staying and working, was on the other end, telling me I was welcome to come. Since it was 7:00, I knew I best be going right away. After washing my face, I grabbed my two bags and headed out the door, walking briskly towards the bigger town. I hadn’t gotten very far when I saw a gentleman striding in my direction. I wondered who he was, since I hadn’t met him before. When he got close enough, he told me he was the uncle of a little girl I’d tutored for a few months during the past summer, and said he walked this way every morning. Of course he wanted to know where I was going, so I just told him I was walking into town to catch the bus. “Why don’t you ride the bus that stops here?” he asked. “It’ll be at the village bus stop in just a few minutes and will save you some walking.”
I thanked him (and God) and retraced my steps to the shelter of the bus stop. About five minutes later it arrived, just like the man had said. I sank gratefully into a seat in the warm bus, thanking God for using the lady’s phone call at 7:00 to get me up and out in time, helping me meet this helpful man, and getting me safely on my way. Only then did I allow myself to relax and reflect on the fact that I was free, and there would be no going back.
Not until I’d been at the house where my sons were boarding, for some time, did I realize how close I had been to being prevented from escaping. Unbeknownst to me, not more than five, or maybe ten minutes, after I was safely in the bus did my husband drive down to the village looking for me. If the lady had not called when she did, and had I not met the gentleman on his morning walk, I would not have gotten away. God’s timing was perfect, He heard my cry for help, and provided for all my needs.
When I married, it was “till death do us part”, thinking that as long as we loved God and each other, everything could be worked out. Yet though initially unperceived by me, the first day of our marriage signaled a descent into a destructive, controlling relationship, which continued for 20 years. During that time, I desperately tried to make it work for my children, husband, self, and God.
As my sons arrived at the age of accountability and were ready to move out of the home for school and work, I began to subconsciously pray for deliverance from my hellish existence. I feared going through the time of trouble trapped in a volatile,destructive marriage. Finally on that December night the answer had come. There was a veritable volcanic explosion. The quantity and quality of verbal abuse was of such clarity and magnitude, I had no doubt as to whether or not this was the answer to my prayer. I was told, in no uncertain terms, to get out. So I did. I walked out to the beginning of freedom, never to go back.
My parents tell me that when I arrived on their doorstep, I was an emotional wreck. But thank God, from that day forward my healing began. Due primarily to the fact that I had been married to a pastor, I was left with some very deep spiritual scars from which I am still struggling to heal. Cynicism, depression, anger, sorrow, regret, loneliness, suspicion,repulsion, fear of rejection, and insecurity in doing things I was previously confident and competent in, are emotions that continue to pop up uninvited and unpredicted to this day. But in spite of all this, I know God and His word are good, and that He can heal the deepest wounds of heart and mind, as He says:
Heal me, O LORD, and I shall be healed;
save me, and I shall be saved:
for thou art my praise. Jeremiah 17:14
He healeth the broken in heart, and
bindeth up their wounds. Psalm 147:3
To Survive, or Not to Survive
by Alexandra Wiebe Hullquist
It was a cold, blustery, dreary, early spring day. Definitely not a nice day to be outside.
Before they left for the day, my two teenage sons told me not to worry when I expressed my concern about Nanny being near due to pop her goat kids out.
“She’ll be just fine, Mom,” they reassured me. “She’ll just wash them off when they come out, get all safe in the barn, and start feeding them. No worries.” So why did I still have a nagging foreboding feeling deep inside, almost like a death knell?
Everytime I heard a bird sing I would think it was baby goats crying. It was a bit unnerving to be always on the alert, and especially since I was not experienced at all with animal husbandry. I had always left that to the boys.
It was shortly after I’d finished lunch and I went outside to empty the compost. I hadn’t heard a sound, but something told me to go check on Nanny.
“Oh God, what shall I do?!” I screamed into the gale of the wind. Scattered on the bare dirt field, where Nanny was pegged, were five little goat bodies. Three were already dead, trampled by their mother and not even removed from the sack around them, but as I examined them frantically, I found that two were barely alive. After moving the bodies so Nanny couldn’t stomp on them anymore, which was obvious she had already insanely done to most of them, I bundled the live kids into my shirt and dashed almost blindly for the house.
“Now what, God?” I pleaded for wisdom, scanning my brain for any recollections of what I’d heard from my sons about baby goat care. Why hadn’t I paid more attention? I screamed at myself. First, I knew they needed to be dry and warm, so I got towels and settled down near the wood stove to thoroughly dry them off. Then I remembered that they must have mother’s milk right away, and especially since I had no powdered milk in the house, Nanny’s milk was the only option.
I left the babies warming near the woodstove, and ran out to position Nanny in the barn where she could nurse her babies comfortably. Then began a battle for life. When I brought the babies to her, first they wouldn’t eat, then when they wanted to, she wouldn’t let them. I prayed like the dickens, and worked constantly with an energy beyond my natural ability. First they seemed to be getting stronger, even standing up, but as time went on, and Nanny wasn’t cooperating, they began to weaken.
By this time, the boys were home and helped me. Still I had a mother’s drive to do all possible to save them. We considered taking them to the vet, but it seemed they would die before arriving there, and the drive itself would be stressful. One breathed its last, but one, the weaker one to begin with, surprised us.
He wasn’t eating much, and getting weaker, so we tried electrolyte solution, but he also wasn’t pooping, an ominous sign. So we gave him olive oil enemas. That didn’t seem to work either. Finally, I was cradling him, holding his head firmly as he tried to arch it back--a sure sign that we were losing him. We all prayed silently, willing him to live. After about half an hour of this, and we thought for sure he was gone, he relaxed, and...pooped!
We gave him another enema, and some more milk (the boys had brought some home to supplement what they’d milk from Nanny), and put him to bed in the box we’d set up for him. We’d done all we could. Now only morning would tell.
In the middle of the night--or was it early morning?--”BAAAAAA!!!” I jumped out of bed and ran into the living room. There he was, standing and calling for food. I ran into the kitchen and was back to him in no time with warm milk.
That morning we christened him “Survivy” the goat.
Thus began the sweetest relationship with an animal I have ever had. He was my own pet goat. Everywhere I went, he went. This was both good and bad. This meant I had to bathe him every day. Actually that was really fun, though quite hilarious. Fun for me because I liked how he felt and smelled after a bath. He hated it, though, so it was always a battle of wills.
The downside to my shadow goat was that his poop and pee followed me, too. Fortunately for everyone, we had a lino floor, but still I had cups and cloths in convenient places throughout the living room with which to catch his pee. We became pretty good at predicting when he would take a leak, and it became quite a game to beat him to it. Keeping doors closed to any rooms he wasn’t to be in was also very important.
The longer he stayed with us in the house, the more he thought of himself as a “people”, wanting to join in anything we were doing, making his cute little squeaking sounds as he tried to get our attention. Worship was the hardest time for him to be “good” because we would all sit on the floor in a circle, Korean fashion, all facing each other. This was just what he wanted: to be the center of the attention of all of us at once.
At first we’d put him in his box during worship, but he soon grew out of his box and would jump or weasel himself out in a jiffy. So we’d attempt to hold him until worship was over.
Rather early on we realised that Survivy was a little “different”, and wondered what would become of him. But he was so sweet, we couldn’t help but love him.
One day a neighborhood bachelor farmer came over for something. When we introduced him to Survivy, he fell in love with him at once. A few days later, my sonsl took him over to Chul-Min Park’s little humble abode. We knew he would be taken good care of because, though Chul-Min lived very spartanly, he took better care of his pets than himself. Survivy was treated like royalty with his very own little stall where Chul-Min generously fed him every day with the best of the luscious spring greens and dry goat food. He developed the shiniest, full coat of black hair, and got bigger each day. Chul-Min and Survivy were often seen out together, with the goat following after his master’s go-cart, tethered by a sturdy rope.
What can we learn from this experience with Survivy? It vividly illustrates the effort Jesus put in to save each of us earthy, weak, “different” beings—in comparison to the heavenly host who are so smart, beautiful, obedient, and all the rest–-and ensure that we survive this life and the life to come. Simply because He loves us. “What wondrous love is this, oh my soul?” How can we help but want to survive under His loving ministrations?