Just a Touch

I need healing. There’s no doubt about that. It’s been 12 years — 12 years of bleeding. I am constantly in pain. I am constantly weak. I constantly feel as if every ounce of life is being steadily drained out of my spirit, out of my soul, out of my body.

And I am constantly unclean.

Perhaps — no. I am sure of it. One touch of his robe and I will be made well.

* * *

She looks as if she’s just sleeping. How like her to lie in bed without a noise. How like her to look as if she is barely breathing. How like her to fool people into thinking that she is dead. She has always been such a joker.

“Sir Jairus, I am sorry, but it doesn’t seem as if she will make it. In a few hours — nay, perhaps a few minutes — sooner or later, your daughter is likely to cross over –“

Cross over? Die? No.

“They say the man named Jesus is in town. They say he is a prophet. Watch over the little one. I shall find him and ask him to make her well.”

* * *

There he is. Why are there so many people surrounding him? They are not making this easy. He is so near – yet so, so far. I will make it through the crowd. I will touch his robe. I will —

* * *

“Rabbi! My little girl is at the point of dying! Come at once! Lay your hands on her and she will be healed.” I have fallen to my feet but I do not care. My daughter is in need of healing. If he would come quickly enough, she will be —

* * *

Healed. I am healed. There is no denying it. The blood has stopped flowing. For years the physicians have been trying to keep the blood from discharging. For a thousand or so dinars they have used medicine to try to get me clean. But now — I can not believe it. All it took was a moment. All it took was a single touch. All it took was —

“Who touched me? Somebody touched me.”

“I am sorry, Rabbi. It was I who touched you. It was I.” My trembling voice betrays my escalating fear.

“Go in peace, daughter. It is your faith that made you well.”

* * *

“Sir Jairus, please get up. I am afraid we have some very bad news. Your daughter — she’s — she’s — do not trouble the teacher any more. Your daughter is dead.”

My little girl? Dead? That can not be! If only Jesus had only gotten to my house sooner! Why, if it wasn’t for this crowd! If it wasn’t for that woman! If — it’s too late. It is too late.

“Jairus.” I hear him speak my name. “Don’t be afraid. Believe. She will be well.”

But…

She’s dead.

* * *

Go in peace. Go in peace, he said! My faith – he said my faith has made me well! Oh what joy! Oh what freedom! Oh what peace I have inside of me! I am made well!

* * *

“Why are you crying? Do not cry. She’s only sleeping. See, watch her rise.”

The good teacher is inside my home. Yes, he is finally inside my home but he is too late. My little girl has already crossed over. My little girl is already dead.

“Rise up, my dearest.”

Great heavens! Her fingers are moving! Her feet are trembling! Her eyes — is it true? Is it true that her eyes are bright and opened wide?

“Abba… I am hungry…”

“Yes, dearest! Yes! At once! At once, my dearest!”

I can not believe it. My daughter is finally well.

END

Based on Matt 9: 18-26, Mark 5:21-43, and Luke 8:41-56

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By The Well

Too much water. I don’t understand why that fellow consumes too much water. If I fill my jar up at Jacob’s well today, I still have to fill it up on the morrow. The water never lasts up to a week. Why doesn’t it even last a week?

Oh, the sun is unbearable again. Well. Better the torment of the scorching rays than the torture of the stinging words from — them. Well. At least I can take on the heat of the sun. They flinch at the very thought of sunburn, at the very thought of the sun tainting their porcelain skins. Ha! Don’t they know that men prefer rich coffee to pale goats’ milk?

Strange. There’s someone else by the well today. I’m usually alone at this hour. What an odd fellow. No matter. Just hold your head up high, deary. Don’t let him get to you. Just take your water and go. Oh, he’s a Jew. Again, don’t let him get to you. Just take your water. And go.

“Please give me a drink.”

Oh. No. Fine, the man has spoken. I can not just take my water and go. Can he not get water himself?

Wait. The man has spoken? To me?

“You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. Why are you asking me for a drink?” I look at him half-bashfully, half-incredulously.

There is a hint of a twinkle in his eye. “If you only knew the gift God has for you and who you are speaking to, you would ask me, and I would give you living water.”

He must be playing with me. He’s joking. “But sir, you don’t have a rope or a bucket. And this well is very deep. Where would you get this living water? And besides, do you think you’re greater than our ancestor, Jacob, who gave us this well? How can you offer better water than he and his animals enjoyed?”

His reply startles me. “Anyone who drinks this water will soon be thirsty again. But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life.”

Never to thirst again? His words grab my attention. Water that will satisfy? Water that will quench every thirst forever? The fellow needs this! Heck. I need this!

“Please sir, give me this water! Then I’ll never be thirsty again, and I won’t have to come here to get water.”

“Go and get your husband.”

My heart sinks. The Jew is only messing with me. Why is he asking for my husband? We’re talking about water! Why does he have to bring my husband into the picture?

“I don’t have a husband.”

He looks at me with eyes that are kind but at the same time fiery, boring into my soul. “You are right! You don’t have a husband — for you have had five husbands and you aren’t even married to the man you’re living with now. You certainly spoke the truth!”

I almost drop the jug I am holding. How. Can. He. Know? Yes, the women talk, yes the men do, too – but – how can he know I’ve had five? How can he know about the one I’m with now? Nobody knows about the fellow! How can he know?

“Sir, you must be a prophet.” I pause. Is he? There’s a question I’ve been dying to ask all my life. “So tell me, why is it that you Jews insist that Jerusalem is the only place of worship, while we Samaritans claim it is here at Mount Gerizim, where our ancestors worshipped?”

He smiles. “Believe me, dear woman, the time is coming when it will no longer matter whether you worship the Father on this mountain or in Jerusalem. You Samaritans know very little about the one you worship, while we Jews know all about him, for salvation comes through the Jews.” He pauses and gives me a meaningful glance. “But the time is coming — indeed it’s here now — when true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship him tat way. For God is Spirit, so those who worship Him must worship in spirit and in truth.”

I take some time to process what the man has just said. It’s still foggy. Nonetheless, I say, “I know the Messiah is coming — the one who is called Christ. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.”

“I am the Messiah.”

I freeze. He is the Messiah? The man — the prophet — talking to me is the Messiah? I hold shakily on to my still empty jug.

Several men approach the well. They look at me oddly for a second and I know I can not stay any longer. I drop my jar and run to the village —

“Come and see a man who told me everything I ever did! Could he be possibly the Messiah?”

Somehow, my heart tells me it’s true. I forget about my thirst. I forget about the fellow’s thirst.

I have found living water which will never run dry.

Could he possibly be the Messiah?

Oh, but I have found living water which will never run dry.

He must be the Messiah.

END

A retelling of John 4:1-29. Text in violet were directly lifted from the text in the NLT version.

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A Short Break

Taking a short break from the writing challenge to give you this retelling of Ecclesiastes 12 (New Living Translation). Finding it fun doing this. Perhaps I should retell stories/verses more often? Hmmm. Enjoy. ^_^

Vanity of Vanities

Meaningless. Everything is meaningless. Vanity of vanities — everything is vanity!

I turn my eyes towards the sky, but the sun, the moon, and the stars have all been replaced by this thick blanket of darkness. Ominous clouds swirl about the heavens even though the rain has already long fallen.

This only means one thing. My eyes have grown dim.

My legs tremble. My shoulders stoop. My teeth — as my eyes — they are gone and are no more.

I have nothing more to live for. Every door to every opportunity has already slammed shut in front of my face. I have given up the daily nine-to-five a long time ago. But why do I wake up each morning still? Why, when I do, do the birds continue to sing? But why, though I know they are chirping, do I not hear even a single tune?

Meaningless. Everything is meaningless.

Heights and falling scare me now, as do danger in the streets. My hair is no longer golden — every strand is as white as snow. They compare me to a grasshopper and aphrodisiacs no longer turn me on.

I shall die later on.

My dust shall return to the earth. My spirit — will it indeed return to the God who made it?

Meaningless. Everything is meaningless.

I should have remembered Him while I was at the prime of my youth, before any of these happened.  I should have made my Maker my front row and centre. I should have sought Him more than knowledge and books, more than booze and empty fun.

But now all must come to an end. The silver chord has snapped. The golden cup is broken.

As am I.

Would things have been different if I feared God? Would things have found meaning if I kept and obeyed His commandments? After all, it should have been simple — to simply love God with all I am, and to simply love my neighbours as I love myself.

But everything is meaningless. Vanity of vanities — everything is vanity.

Yet I heard God will judge us for everything we do — the good, the bad, the seen, the unseen.

Meaningless. Everything is meaningless.

End

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.

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When I get to the end of the road, would I want to be like that person crying out in disdain because everything is completely meaningless? Or would I want to be a person who would be crying out for joy having lived a life of abundance, a life of satisfying fullness (John 10:10b)?

It’s a choice. A simple one, really, that would boil down to this: Will I fear God and obey His very commandments? McManus says:

When we fear God, we fear nothing else. It is only in fear of God that we find ourselves free from the fear of death, of failure, and all the other fear that binds us. (from Uprising, page 242)

Misty Edwards also sums it up well in her song, Point of Life:

Knowing You is the answer to the riddle of the point of life. The point of life is You. It’s You. Loving You is the reason that I’m breathing. It’s the absolute — the point of life is You.

Meaningless? Everything is not meaningless. :)

Neighbours

(Day 24 — Something that you’ve learned)

I should never have set my feet upon this road. They warned me, you know. They said that I was likely to get beaten. They said that I was likely to get robbed.

Well. I was both beaten and robbed. What more, I am stripped off the very fabric that just this very morning had clothed and covered my skin.

I’m almost naked. The sun is beating down upon my wounds. I can’t feel my legs. I can’t feel my arms. I can’t feel my — Oh God, what did they do to my arms?

Water. I need water. If only it would rain. Perhaps that would wash away the blood and grime off my skin. Perhaps that would soothe my parched throat. Perhaps —

Wait! What is that I see? I fear I’m in the state of delirium — but is that a wayfarer there yonder? Tassels in his robe — oh, he’s wearing a robe — and —

Gone. My first hope of rescue. Lost.

I squint at the dust. The brown particles, they lull me to sleep. They fly up into the air, swirl around my nostrils, conjuring up unidentifiable images that only make my head spin.

Linen. They’re forming patterns that look like linen. Linen??? On a Levite? Could it be? Is that a Levite down the road? Oh kind-hearted soul —

Gone. My second hope of deliverance. Lost.

I shall die today in this road I never should have taken.

What will happen to my wife? She shall have to find a kinsman redeemer. Oh, I can not bear it. Her with another man! But I can not bear the thought either of her facing the stigma of being a widow, of being a —

What are these? Hands. Hands touching my wounds. Is that oil dripping on my skin? Are those bandages being wrapped around my shoulders? Are those —

I can feel my feet again. I can feel my arms. My fingers — can I move my fingers again? A tiny twitch. That’s good enough.

The hands. They are lifting me up. Into the back of an animal. I am saved. I am being rescued. I am —

My mind goes blank. After a second, I remember nothing more.

* * *

“Well look at you. I was thinking you’d never get up. You’ve been out for three days now, you know.”

“I was? Wait. Where am I?”

“Jericho Inn, my dear friend. Jericho Inn.”

“How did I get here?”

“A Samaritan fellow took you in. Haggard fellow, really. Kept fishing around his pockets for some denarii that could at least keep you here. Said he’ll come back. Got some more expenses to cover. Was that guy your friend? You mightn’t see him anymore though. Dunno if you’ll catch him. Or if he’ll catch you. You’re good to go by this afternoon, you know.”

I imagine my eyes are as wide as saucers as the innkeeper and I engage in this exchange. A Samaritan? A man from an opposing camp? A Samaritan fellow helped out a — a Jew?

How totally unreasonable.

Moments later, I hear footsteps. My heart jumps in my chest. Seconds after, I see him.

“Innkeeper, is he well?”

I clear my throat. My eyes meet those of my deliverer.

“Yes, I am well. Thank you. My life is indebted to you.”

End.

“Which of these three, do you think, proved to be the neighbour to the man who fell among the robbers?” He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go and do likewise.” (Luke 10:36-37)

The Good Samaritan. The Helpless Jew. It’s a well worn tale I grew up with in church and in Sunday School. But revisiting the story this Sunday gave a rather fresh learning — and yes, a fresh stirring — to my soul.

The lawyer had asked Jesus what he had to do to inherit life eternal. Jesus had asked him in turn, “What is written in the law?” The lawyer knew this well. It showed in his reply — “Give your all to God. Give your all to your neighbour as well.” (See Luke 10:25-28)

But who is my neighbour? And — this is a tough one — based on the story and based on Jesus’ and the lawyer’s exchange — am I a neighbour?

“The neighbour is the one who showed the man mercy.”

This be my Sunday learning. Truly, it is not right to say that you love God but not love His people. Indeed, it is incomprehensible if you give your whole heart to the Invisible but withhold every part from those visible around you.

So. Today. Tomorrow. Will I be like the priest, like the Levite, who just drifted by? Or will I be a neighbour? Will I be like that Samaritan guy?