Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Blue eyes and the touch of freedom.

"On a Sabbath Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues, and a woman was there who had been crippled by a spirit for eighteen years. She was bent over and could not straighten up at all. When Jesus saw her, he called her forward and said to her, "Woman, you are set free from your infirmity." Then he put his hands on her, and immediately she straightened up and praised God." - Luke 13: 10-13

This woman doesn't have a name, but I have met her. For the sake of this post she will be named "Hope." This is a true story about how this gospel passage has jumped off the pages and into my life. Let me introduce you...

This woman (in the passage) has been "bent" for eighteen years. In another translation it says she was "bowed together," meaning she literally couldn't stand up straight. She was crippled and the only thing she could see, her entire life, was the dirt on the ground.  How painful. How degrading. How insignificant she must have felt.

For Hope, drugs, alcohol, and various forms of self-destruction were her "bent." On the outside she was perfect. A great athlete, straight-A student, 'perfect' family, and she was 'the life of the party.' On the inside...her heart was contorted beyond even her own recognition. Trying so hard to gain significance. She had faked out so many other people she had even faked herself out. And ironically (or not?)...all of this at the age of eighteen. 

Jesus is teaching and, out of the corner of his eye, he sees the woman. He doesn't stare at her with disgust. He sees her. Past the mangled mess. Into her.

Last June, Jesus saw Hope. He didn't see her the way you and I might have looked at her. He saw past the facade and into the heart that was screaming for life. I'm telling you, he saw her in a way that she felt it. 

Jesus called the woman forward. He didn't ignore or insult her. He says, "come to me." She probably couldn't see him, but I wonder if she could recognize her Savior's voice. Even more than that, he gives her FREEDOM. At this point, she is "freed," yet she is still crippled. So, what is the freedom Jesus is referring to? Kinda reminds me of another story where Jesus heals a paralytic. In Matthew 9, Jesus says to the crippled man: "Take heart, son: your sins are forgiven." The pharisees start to grumble and complain, to which Jesus replies, "Which is easier: to say 'Your sins are forgiven,' or to say, 'Get up and walk'? But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins...Get up and walk." So, freedom comes not from our physical appearance, but from the grace that only Jesus can give...for our sins.

Jesus whispered, "Hope, come to me. Your sins are forgiven." The outward destruction that consumed her life didn't stop...yet. But something in her heart clicked. Or rather, a small flame was lit. For the first time in her life, she knew what real, genuine love felt like. The significance she had longed for and searched for had finally been found. 

Jesus touches the woman. Immediately she stands up, for the first time in eighteen years. The first person she gets to lock eyes with are the eyes of Jesus. Then she proceeds with the only proper response: praising God, skipping and dancing without shame, through the streets (my own interpretation). 

Jesus walked up to Hope and slowly, over the course of a few months, wrapped his arms around her. For the first time in eighteen years, Hope began to let go. Life is definitely not perfect and not always easy, but addictions and destruction have slowly become things of the past. I have literally watched real healing, drastic life change, and freedom from things that were going to kill her. No joke.

When I talk to Hope I see a glow. It's not just life...it is a daughter who has come alive. This is not just a story on a page. She has a name. She has a face. She is significant. 

Jesus looked Hope square in the eyes and her response was much the same as the woman. A little singing. A little dancing. A little crying. A heart and a life transformed and passionate to not just tell, but to show the world who Jesus is and how legit his healing and love really are. The small flame has become a forest fire.

This HOPE has changed my life. Look around, because I think you probably know her, and that HOPE will change yours.

"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." -Romans 15:13