In the book of Matthew we get a whopping two lines about a woman who had been bleeding for 12 years and she basically sneaks up behind Jesus to touch His cloak, saying to herself that she knew she would be healed if she could just touch that darn cloak!
20 Just then a woman who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak. 21 She said to herself, “If I only touch his cloak, I will be healed.” Matthew 9:20-21
If you do your homework, you will find that this was a HUGE no-no in this day and time. Leviticus Chapter 15 tells us that she was considered to be ceremonially unclean because she had been bleeding. This would be like our kids smelling up the bathroom and then coming to the dinner table without washing their hands – but times 100! It was shocking! It was outrageous! It was despicable!
Not only that, but in Mark 5:26 we find out that she had literally sold all she had to go to physicians to be healed and yet she was still bleeding. And not only did she not get better, she actually grew worse. She was DESPERATE, y’all. Desperate. For. Healing.
I’ve been there. I’ve been to see this doctor and that doctor and rearranged some savings to try this therapy or that therapy. I wasn’t a societal outcast like this woman though. I wonder what would be our modern-day equivalent — maybe someone with AIDs or herpes? A cancer patient who tries chemo but only gets worse and starts to lose control of their bodily functions?
If we keep reading in Mark 5:26, we see that she even came up behind Him, like she was scared of Him or ashamed for Him to see her.
Then she does it.
She touches his garment.
Now it’s time to flee!
But instead, at that very instant He knows and she knows that something has changed. Some kind of exchange has happened.
Can you imagine? Think of your absolute worst day. You don’t want anyone to see you, but you’re desperate for healing. You hear that Jesus is coming and you think to yourself “this is my chance, if only I can TOUCH HIS CLOTHES I know that He can heal me!” So you sneak up behind him, crouching down because you don’t want anyone to see you. You reach out and you do it. You actually touch his garment! And then you know — you can feel it. YOU ARE HEALED! But then… the unspeakable happens. He knows too. He knows that you touched Him AND He knows that He healed you. Your cover is blown.
Luke 8:45: “WHO TOUCHED ME?,” Jesus asked.
Awwwww man! Seriously?!?! This isn’t a drive-thru healing?
After each of the disciples all say “not it”, and Peter tries to tell Jesus he is nuts because they are in a CROWD and of course people are touching Him…. she does it. She finds the courage to tell Him it was her, and she literally does it in front of God and country.
Is your heart beating fast? Mine is.
Jesus then assures her that it wasn’t even her touch that healed her. There was no magic there. Her faith is what healed her.
And so Jesus says in Luke 8:48 Then he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace.”
This woman went from unclean and outcast to trembling before Christ to declare her actions in-front of a CROWD of strangers. And then she was healed. And not only that, but He told her to “go in peace.”
What He did for her right then and there, He did for ALL of us when He was on that cross. While we might not experience drastic and immediate healing physically like she did, we most certainly can experience spiritual healing. I do. Every time I call on His name. And on some days, that is my entire prayer. “Jesus.”
I should be more like ____, because she is obviously making a difference in people’s lives.
Ever thought that to yourself?
It’s hard NOT to when we have some impressive Christian women opening our eyes to MAJOR world issues and PS: it’s all over Facebook and Twitter.
Here’s what I know about myself:
The ministry role I am in at our church is EXACTLY where I’m supposed to be and I am crazy under-qualified (is that a word?) for this role.
I’m spending time with my family and making memories.
I’m stretching myself with theology books that are WAY over my head.
I have scheduled exercise days so that the week doesn’t fly by without some sweat (I mean on-purpose sweat … not Texas sweat) and often times I am out for a bike ride with my husband, talking while we sweat.
My son is DIGGING his role on the kids worship team at church.
I’m quilting when I can squeeze it in.
My list sucks compared to _______’s list.
Why do we feel like we need a “next big thing” when clearly God is at work with some pretty big things already. Why do we compare ourselves to others who are called to DIFFERENT things than we are? Have I gotten so used to rushing from one thing to the next that I have forgotten how to find joy in all the things I AM ACTUALLY DOING?
God has called me to:
Be a wife … check, doing that and screwing it up sometimes with my mouth… and apparently I have a “face” that I make. Crap, I just made the face while I thought about the face.
Be a mom … check, doing that and watching my kid grow out of one stage and dance his way into another (literally — if I could attach a video from Instagram here, I would)
Be in ministry... check, doing that and I cannot believe He would choose me to serve in this way – WOAH Nelly.
GROW in my faith … check, doing that through a summer class that continues to kick me around while I’m on the ground with my dictionary and a flashlight moaning “I have no idea what that word means!!!!”
Be creative … check, doing that through quilting both alone and with my mom.
Treat my body well … check, doing that except for when my coworkers tell me there is amazing CAKE in the fridge at church. (You know who you are and I know where you live)
Laugh/Love… check, doing that so often that I’m aging my face with laugh lines.
Pray… check, can’t STOP doing this!
Worship… check, my favorite place to be. I would listen to all three services if I had the time and if it wouldn’t make my family make “the face.”
Experience hardship … check, not my favorite thing by far but I am constantly learning from the things in my not-so-distant-past that either I screwed up or were outside my control.
So what the heck am I doing?
I’m not on a plane to Africa.
I’m not opening my home to people who can’t get their feet under themselves.
I’m not handing out my lunch to the homeless each day.
I’m not doing all these “amazing” things you hear about on Facebook.
But don’t be mistaken, just because I’m not on a place to Africa it doesn’t mean He hasn’t called me to do things that are BIG, to do things I don’t understand, and ask me to walk in faith to follow Him. And for the record, I also have a list of things I feel Him calling me to – and I’m trying to find the courage to JUMP into His will through faith in Him alone. But that’s a whole other blog post.
(PS: I’m secretly terrified that He will call me to Uganda, because holy-hand-sanitizer I have first world OCD issues.)
I am doing the AMAZING and TERRIFYING things He has called me to do. I don’t have to be like _______. I was never meant to be like her anyway. I was given my own scavenger hunt, my own terrifying task list that require 100% faith and 100% obedience.
You weren’t meant to be like her either. You were wonderfully and beautifully made in God’s image. Noah and Abraham were called to two VERY different things. Mary and Eve? Different things. You and me? Different things.
Be happy for _______ for following God’s prompting in her life.
And get fired up about the things He has called YOUto do!
THAT…. THAT is what we are doing.
If God granted your biggest wish right now, would it change your faith in Him forever or just sustain you temporarily until you had another wish you wanted fulfilled?
I ask this because at the depths of my angst and the heights of my chronic pain, all I wanted was to be healed. I thought if God would just heal me, it would change everything for me.
My faith would be restored.
I could finally make a difference in His kingdom.
People would see me and say “wow, God still performs miracles!”
I could find reasons to smile again.
Nothing would ever hold me back again.
I could fill my schedule back up with pool parties, coffee visits, bible study groups, serving here and there and there and there…. if only He would heal me.
But God didn’t heal me. In fact, I will always have fibromyalgia and arthritis. I will probably always struggle with some form of depression and chronic fatigue syndrome. However the journey, in and of itself, has strengthened my faith in God. I now have some wisdom, some life experience, and some ways to connect to other people. I never would have had these gifts if God would have healed me the first or the seventeenth time I asked.
I used to live landmark to landmark – waiting to see what was on the horizon and telling myself, “once this thing is past me, I’ll be fine.” And, “when I get to that next thing, everything will be GREAT!” And, “when I have a job again, we will be financially secure.” I was scared of the pressure while I was suffering physically. I was terrified of the life change. I felt forgotten, isolated, segregated, removed. The pressure of not knowing when or if I would feel good again was too much. I was scared of being in the dark.
I didn’t know how to rely on God.
And when I lived that way (constantly waiting for the next thing), I was essentially covering my ears and rocking back and forth … and shutting out God. He was trying to whisper to me, and sometimes He would send people to try to speak truth into me. But I couldn’t hear them because I was too busy making my own plans. I didn’t even see them because I was too focused on my anticipation of the next thing on the horizon.
Your life is now, not later.
Dont’ wait for the next thing, because you’re going to miss THIS thing. And believe me when I tell you, there is a lesson to be learned in every situation. There is joy to be found and there is sorrow to shake your soul. Just like the Bible says in the book of Ecclesiastes, there really is a time for everything. Don’t wish away these times like I did. Because gems are only produced under pressure. You are a gem to Him. I am a gem to Him. Don’t believe for a second that your worth is what this world tells you it is. DO believe that you ARE a precious gem of the Lord’s. He formed you. He made you. HE PICKED YOU! You have worth and you have sparkle.
So dont’ be afraid of the dark.
God has the ultimate flashlight. He sees you and He loves you. He has not forgotten you. Don’t give up hope in Him.
Look for His light.
Because that’s where you’re going to sparkle.
I’m 37 and I finally feel like I am DOING the things I have dreamed of doing in my life, and I feel like they are God’s dreams for me as well. Now, I’m no Carrie Underwood, singing all across the world. I’m no Michael Hyatt, writing and speaking all over the world. But I’m Ann Skaehill, doing the things I’m meant to do in my little circle of the world.
In 6th grade, I remember doing some kind of “career project” wherein I had to figure out what I wanted to be when I grew up. My project was about being a writer. Now, I wasn’t exactly sure what KIND of writer I wanted to be – and honestly even through my Sophomore year in college I thought I would work for Hallmark and write witty and sentimental sayings for their greeting cards.
Because I believe God pursues us and keeps dreams alive in us, He never let my dream to write slide by the wayside. I have had other talents pop up that I jumped on and turned into money makers for my family all while God was putting new dreams in my heart.
When I felt called to work in ministry, I laughed. Ok really, we ALL laughed. I was the mom with the f-bomb problem – I had no business being in ministry! And in fact there were things He wanted me to experience and learn so that He could call me out of ministry for a season where He cultivated those things within me. Talk about confusing!
A few months ago my husband and I went for a walk and he said (in love), “I feel like you’re all over the map! You are basically working 4 part-time jobs right now and you’re making me crazy! So what IS your dream? Or do you seriously have a bazillion of them?”
Good points. After my initial defensiveness subsided, I realized he had some exceptionally good points. God might call us to do new things, and in fact He might keep a dream alive in us for a long long time. When it’s time to take action and follow your dream, you have to let something else go. My best friend always says to me:
“Everytime you say yes to something, you are saying no to something else.”
Because I was essentially saying yes to 4 part-time jobs, I was saying no to my family and to God’s FULL calling for my life. Again. (I really hate it when I repeat this cycle!)
So it’s time. I’m shutting down one of my spinning wheels. It’s taking time to get through the work, but I have peace about it. And as I get closer to completion, I feel my passion coming more alive in the areas of writing and ministry. Correction, I feel HIS passion coming alive in the areas of writing and ministry. By continuing to say yes to this 4th thing, I was saying no to the big picture of how God wants to use me in these other areas. I was doing something because I was good at it, not because I was called to it.
How do you know if you’re called to something or not?
1. Write down EVERYTHING that you’re doing. I mean everything. This includes carpool, taking meals to people because they are sick, volunteering with a pet rescue place, your career… everything. Then pray over that list.Ask God to bring to the surface the things that He intends for you to have your hands in/on. Ask Him to make it clear to you when it’s time to start saying no. Don’t be “that guy” and walk into church Sunday and say “I can no longer serve because God’s not calling me to it. Bye!”
2. Talk to your people. I can’t shout this to you loud enough. Your people know what you’re good at and what you clearly have no business doing. It’s going to hurt, because you think you’re good at spinning all those plates. And frankly, you might even think you’re CALLED to spin all those plates. Maybe you are. But because you’re human, I’m positive you have at least one plate that needs to find a new home.
3. When you feel like God is calling you to something, you will simultaneously have this sense that it’s not about you. Because He might even be calling you to something that you know NOTHING about. Get your seatbelt on, because you’re in miracle territory. He’s about to work wonders for HIS good, through you. And when you walk away from a job well done, pride won’t be an issue because you won’t be able to stop praising GOD and all that He has done in this thing you knew nothing about.
If this three-step process isn’t enough for you, please go read Jennie Allen’s book: Restless. She will lead you down this amazing road of self-discovery. She will help you peel back the layers of your life so you can lay out the pieces and see your detailed map to God’s calling for your life.
Start thinking about what you need to say no to.
It’s time to stop spinning all those darn plates.
Our church staff read a book written by Jim Collins and I can still see multiple correlations between the ideas presented and the issues that we face in ministry (and life in general). If you haven’t read it, it’s worth your time – but please note – if you aren’t 100% business minded, you might need a dictionary close by.
One of the chapters that I loved in this book, talked about having people in the right place within your business. If you think of your business (or ministry) as a bus, everyone on that bus is bought-in to the mission and headed in the same direction. However, often times we have people sitting in the wrong seats and they become Debbie-Downers. They make the ride miserable for everyone else.
You’re probably already nodding your head because you can think of someone immediately who is the fit-throwing child within your organization. Collins recommends that we simply help them find the right seat on the bus and boom — they turn into a Fred Flintstone, picking that bus up and RUNNING toward the goal. (Why do I think in movie lines? Forrest Gump, anyone?)
I was quite shocked when God first led me into ministry. I was the mom who struggled with the f-bomb. What in the world was I doing in ministry??? The position that I ultimately landed in was about 50% the right seat and 50% the wrong seat. I love people, their stories, and helping them find their right seat on the bus. But keeping up with them and refining their skills turned out to be a real deal breaker for me. Not because I didn’t want to, but because I wasn’t made to.
I believe that God gives us talents, dreams, desires, and even Spiritual Gifts that we are meant to use to do His business here on earth.
1 Corinthians Chapter 12 RDT (Red Neck Translation <– that’s a joke, please don’t go looking for that translation) goes into all the details of how each of us is given something different than someone else – so that – we can work together to git’r done. The Apostle Paul even says that we can’t have ALL the gifts because that would make it pointless to need other people.
If you think about a bus again, it needs things that appear similar to do very different jobs:
It needs wheels and tires.
It needs an engine and pistons.
It needs oil and gas.
If we could ALL dream big, nothing would ever get done. If NONE of us could dream big, we would never invent anything new. Different gifts for different roles. (Did anyone else just sing the Different Strokes theme song?)
My ministry position only nailed 50% of the gifts I was given which meant I was the teeter-totter in our group. I was fired up half the time and the other time I was dragging the anchor and whining. Ultimately, an illness forced me to leave my position on staff, but I finally had the courage to start having conversations on my way out about how I didn’t feel like that job was the right fit for me. No one argued with me on that, probably because they could see it too.
Because God is gracious and He pursues us, I have been added to the church staff a second time – and THIS time my role utilizes 90% of my gifts. 10% of my job is dealing with stuff I don’t feel gifted to do, but it’s necessary and it pushes me to think outside of the box – which is a good thing!
So what, Ann. Yay you. You have a job you love and I hate mine so …whatever. I’m glad you found a job you like.
No. Not “yay Ann” — YAY GOD for being smart enough to give us specific gifts.
Do yourself a favor. Take a Spiritual Gifts Assessment.
I like the Spiritual Assessment tool at Lifeway.com. You can download the PDF here. It is easy to read, understand, and answer. It has a simple scoring tool, AND it includes descriptions of all the gifts. This is not an end-all, be-all test that will show you the path you must take. This is a tool to help you assess why you’re dragging anchor. It’s meant for you to use as a brainstorming tool to figure out how God has specifically gifted YOU.
Google your gifts, talk to your co-workers about them, talk to your family about them. Maybe it’s time for you to have a courageous conversation with your boss. Maybe it’s time for you to lead a ministry at your church.
Maybe it’s time for you to appreciate where you are planted because you’re gifted and meant to be there.
So back to the beginning we go.
Are you on the right bus?
Are you on the right seat of that bus?
If the answer to either question is “no” — then it’s time you do something about it, because Jeremiah 29:11 says that God knows the plans He has for you and if you know you’re on the wrong bus or even the wrong seat — God hasn’t been able to use you the way He needs to.
My friends know that I am pretty much an open book. There isn’t a whole lot that I am too embrassed to share about myself. I think that comes from years and years and years of medical issues. I have been programmed to give the details. All of the details. So that nothing gets missed. But sometimes I go too far and by the time the information is out of my mouth, it’s too late to take it back!
3 Signs You’re Sharing Too Much Information
1. You don’t want anyone to meet your spouse. Or your brother. Or your boss.
Early in our marriage, I had to learn to do a lot of things on my own due to my husband’s work shifts. I learned to fix things around the house, I learned which line to stand in at the tax office, and I even learned which car repair place was honest (and unfortunately also learned which ones to avoid). We struggled early in our marriage because we didn’t know how to grow together instead of further apart. Since he wasn’t around for me to talk to, I talked to friends. After our son was born I was tired with a capital TEE-EYE-AR-EEE-DEE and he was still only home one night a week. I created a horrible pattern of dissing my husband to my friends and family because deep down I wanted people on “my side.”
Now, I was never actually in a courtroom battle with my husband, nor did anyone stand us face to face and ask to hear my side versus his side – but alas, I felt the need to gather an army of troops. Let me skip ahead and tell you how that worked out for me in the end. It didn’t. It just didn’t work out. I noticed I would get nervous when people I worked with would meet him because I wasn’t sure what they would say – and vice versa, I got nervous when he would meet people I worked with …. are you sensing a pattern here?
RESOLUTION FOR SIGN #1: Just go talk to the person who is driving you nuts. You don’t need an army. Period. If you can’t work it out, then seek wisdom and guidance from one or two people AFTER you have prayed about your sitation.
2. You start a conversation with, “this is probabaly TMI, but ….”
Again, I admit that there are things I have discussed with people that are just awkward and … weird. Like bowel movements for example. ( I know, I’m not heeding my own advice very well!) But I have to tell you, once you find out who your IBS friends are, you know you can share great tips that you just can’t seek out from anyone in your contacts list! But let’s just say you’re walking through the grocery store and you run into a neighbor you haven’t seen in awhile and she says, “HEY! How ARE you?!?!”
Warning: This is not the moment you’ve been waiting for you share the intimate details of the unidentifiable rash on your son’s rear end. It just isn’t. The chances are that this type of in-passing conversation would be grounds for concise yet honest information. If you are really going through some hard stuff – just be honest and say, “You know – I’m not the greatest I’ve ever been but this isn’t the best place for me to go into details. I would love to catch up with you over coffee, though!” If they bite and set up a coffee date, then great — let’s talk about how you’ve diagnosed your son with a disease that will maim him in 3 weeks thanks to Dr. Google. If they don’t bite – don’t be offended. This is probably not the friendship in which you want to share deep details of your life anyway. And that’s OK! Really, it is.
RESOLUTION FOR SIGN #2: When in doubt (or in a public place), keep it simple and always keep it honest. There’s no reason to lie and say “I’m GREAT!” if you really aren’t great. However, going into the details of your Aunt’s mental illness in the office at the elementary school isn’t really a splendid idea either. Keep it simple, honest, and concise.
3. You are more comfortable talking to your friend than you are talking to God.
Can I just out myself here and tell you that I’m guilty? Because I’m guilty. One of my favorite friends to talk to about big issues almost ALWAYS responds with, “have you prayed about this yet, Ann?” Ok kids — take note: THIS IS THE BEST KIND OF FRIEND TO HAVE! She listens, and she always turns me right back to God which is where I should have started in the first place. Talking to God is prayer. Prayer is talking to God. It’s a relationship. When you met (insert name of a great friend here) you didn’t start in with “so I have this weird bump on my arm” – you had to build the relationship first before you could start sharing TMI types of tidbits. It’s the same with God on OUR end – but not on His end. He is already there. He’s warmed up and ready to go. And guess what? Nothing will surprise Him so you can share every TMI thought you’ve ever had with Him.
RESOLUTION FOR SIGN #3: If you don’t have a friend who reminds you to talk to God — starting BEING that friend. Start asking your pals if they have talked to God about the things they are sharing with you. If you set the stage, you’ll start attracting the same types of encouragement from others. And just start talking to God… He is aching to sit and have coffee with you.
5 If you don’t know what you’re doing, pray to the Father. He loves to help. You’ll get his help, and won’t be condescended to when you ask for it. Ask boldly, believingly, without a second thought. James 1:5 (The Message)
If you’re a parent, you’ve seen these faces before. They are most likely planted in a “device” as the carpool kids call it — ipad, iphone, tablet, blah blah blah. My son LOVES Minecraft and he builds some pretty amazing things on that game. But there’s a problem with it all. No matter what else is happening, all he sees is that screen. I can holler “dinner is ready!” and get a weak response of “k, just a minute!” I can holler “the cookies are done!” … same response. I could scream “FIRE!” just as a test — but that would just be mean (and sorta funny, I mean … yes, what a terrible thing to do to your child).
It’s annoying isn’t it? To be ignored? It can be downright maddening.
So I wonder how God feels when I make my schedule all nice and neat in my calendar app, make a to-do list on my February pad of paper (OCD jokes are welcome — I agree, it’s funny…. but it IS February so let’s use the correct pad of paper mmmkay?), and then it happens.
A friend texts and asks if we can have coffee so we can talk about real life stuff that’s happening. So I check my calendar.
I experience something or feel something and I immediately have a blog post idea in my head so I jot it down — and forget about it.
My husband walks in the door from work and tries to tell me about his day, and I am completely consumed with trying to knock out every last item on that to-do list (you know, the February one!).
I wonder how many times God has gotten really excited and hollered “FRESH COOKIES!” and I completely ignore Him because I’m so focused on my device/list/agenda.
I wish you could get the full effect of my cursor sitting here blinking at me for the past 4 minutes while I re-read that last sentence over and over and over again. It makes me feel ashamed. I mean, didn’t I just learn this lesson? Haven’t I already gone through this obstacle course and realized that God’s way is always better in the long run? So how did this happen again? How did I get so busy with things that don’t matter in the end?
I don’t know.
But I did.
And He’s been hollering at me but I had my headphones on so I could watch Heartland on Netflix while I sewed.
So now what?
Well, that February pad of paper needs to go because it’s filled with things that *I* want to accomplish and zero things that God wants me to accomplish. And it’s time to get back into prayer and let Him guide me.
In the 4th chapter of Esther, I love this line of scripture, “Who knows if perhaps you were made queen for such a time as this?” Mordecai basically said, “Yo, this is going to be dangerous and isn’t exactly what YOU had planned — but what if this is exactly what GOD had planned for you? What if He made you queen for such a time as this?!?!?!”
So my question for you today is — What has God perfectly positioned you for at this moment in your life, but instead of saying “pray for me, because I’m ALL IN” like Esther did, you’re hollering “k… just a minute!” from your place of comfort?
Chance are you know what “it” is. So on the count of three, let’s crumple up the lists on the February pad of paper.
1, 2, …. NO, you cannot copy it into your phone first! … 3!