"Do now, do now, what you will wish to have done when your moment comes to die." [St. Angela Merici]

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Bent Over—Set Free

By Micky Wolf

He [Jesus] was teaching in a synagogue on the Sabbath. And a woman was there who for eighteen years had been crippled by a spirit; she was bent over, completely incapable of standing erect. When Jesus saw her, he called to her and said, "Woman, you are set free of your infirmity." He laid his hands on her, and she at once stood up straight and glorified God. [Luke 13-10-13]
Most of what is described in Scripture has layers of meaning. We can read a few verses one day, and then again, months or years later, experience new insight and revelation.  In our journey as Christians, God will speak to our hearts through the Word in His perfect way and time. The aforementioned story is no exception. The verses which follow these are often the focus of teaching and preaching as they tell of Jesus’ frustration with those who believe healing is not to be done on the Sabbath. At the same time, there is much to be gleaned from pondering the story of the woman’s healing on its own.
1.      Noticing
Jesus was in the synagogue teaching, yet he obviously did not choose to limit himself to a single purpose or action. It would be easy enough to assume he stopped everything in the middle of the Sabbath service to address the woman; however, it is interesting to note Jesus’ choice to respond occurred “when he saw her”.
How many times do you hesitate, or try to ignore the promptings of the Holy Spirit to reach out to another person, especially when to do so would seem inappropriate given the time, place or setting? What holds you back?
2.     Timing
“The woman had been crippled by a spirit for eighteen years and she was completely incapable of standing erect.” Why the specific number? If actions speak louder than words, our behaviors and demeanor—including the presence or absence in the expression of our emotions and feelings—speak even greater volumes about our ‘state of being’. And the longer we carry what is unhealthy and unresolved within our ‘temple’, the greater the likelihood it will manifest in ways which may literally as well as figuratively keep us from standing erect in health and wholeness.
Of further interest—the woman had been crippled by a spirit. We don’t read of her having a terrible accident, or of bones or ligaments broken or torn apart. No, the divinely inspired author is careful to use the word “spirit”.
Sometimes the most egregious and long-standing injuries we bear within our body are not those of a physical nature but those of a spiritual nature. Our spiritual being—as well as our physical, emotional and intellectual being—can be crippled by any number of things: a spirit of fear, a spirit of bitterness, resentment or unforgiveness, a spirit of envy, jealousy, greed, lust, gluttony, pride, anger, or laziness.
Do you feel the wearing of time? Have a sense of being bent over and crippled by a spirit? What might the Lord desire to reveal to you in order that you may be healed?
3.     Hearing
When Jesus saw her, he called to her and said, “Woman, you are set free of your infirmity.” Clear. Simple. No mistaking his understanding of her situation or of her need to be relieved of her pain and suffering. Also meaningful—there is no record of her saying anything before he spoke to her.
Sometimes it seems as if we need to provide God with a detailed list of our infirmities—diseases, maladies, personal failings—when in fact He is thoroughly familiar with our need even before we speak. Which is not to say we should refrain from telling Him, only that long, detailed explanations are often not necessary.
What God desires of us is our receptivity to hearing His voice. Are you open—in heart, thoughts, feelings and emotions—to being stirred by the Holy Spirit? Can you, like the crippled woman, be present to God, where ever that may be?
4.     Receiving
It was not enough for Jesus to see the woman and call to her. There was one more thing he was compelled to do—lay his hands upon her—at which moment she “stood up straight”. It is important to recognize Jesus knew and understand touch as integral in allowing the healing power of God to flow through him to the one in need. 

The crippled woman made several important choices to put her in a position to receive healing:
She entered the synagogue
She stayed while Jesus was teaching
She heard him call to her
She remained still as he laid his hands on her
Are you open to receiving the Lord’s healing touch through the presence of the Holy Spirit—where ever He may encounter you?
5.     Standing
It was not enough for the crippled woman, in being healed, to fade into the crowd. She “at once stood up straight—and glorified God”. How many times have we had a sense of God’s ministering presence, maybe vaguely grateful, only to promptly return to the business at hand while forgetting to give honor and praise to the Great Healer?
How will you respond the next time you sense the presence or touch of the Holy Spirit? And in standing straight, will you choose to glorify God”?
For some of us, pain, suffering or discomfort of some form or another are the only way we are eventually moved to seek the Lord. So be it. Our Good God is incredibly accepting, amazingly merciful, and deeply compassionate. He cares for each of us beyond any human ability to comprehend the depth and breadth of Godly love.


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