This immediately took me back to 7th grade. Not exactly a time in my life I love to re-live. Why, you ask?
Well, my hair was especially frizzy that year, and orange. And no matter how hard I tried, I was always about 10 months behind in fashion, just enough to look kinda pathetic. And I was just weird and insecure enough to make a fool of myself around the boys that I liked. Like standing too close and staring too long. (Go ahead. Laugh. I can't see you.)
I am sweating from the memories.
But that has nothing to do with this Bible story. Sorry 'bout that.
As much as I hated junior high, the cliques, the mean popular girls, my Payless shoes, I loved one part of junior high. The physical fitness testing. Twice a year, in PE, we would do a number of tests, and they would rank the entire class of girls. I LIVED for that week, every year. I trained and trained for the mile, the sit ups, the pull-ups. But the hardest test, for me, was the sit and reach. You sit down, put your Payless shoes in this box thing, extend your legs and sssttttrreetch.
It burned. So bad. And I wasn't good at it.
Stretching can be painful, huh?
This women, who's story is found in Luke 8, made the stretch of her lifetime. See, she had been sick for 12 years. She had been bleeding for over a decade! But what made her situation even worse is that Jewish law saw that a woman who was bleeding was considered unclean. They were supposed to stay away from everyone! They were an outcast, rejected by the public. Now it's one thing to be kinda rejected once a month, but for this woman--it was constant. For twelve years.
But Jesus was in her area. Perhaps she had heard about him, that he was healing the sick, turning their religion on it's head, and changing lives. Whatever she knew, she had at least a mustard seed of faith in him, that he could change her situation.
So she breaks the law, and goes out where the people are crowding around the Teacher. Perhaps she was shaking from fear of being caught, or trembling from adrenaline. Maybe the hope that was in the air from this Jesus guy was pulling her out of her home and into the multitudes with her barely thinking about it. And she's on the ground, maybe because of weakness, maybe because she wants to be discreet. And Jesus is just out of reach….so she stretches, from her toes and her heart and all the way to her fingers she stretches…..and she touches Jesus' cloak.
And maybe it burned a bit. To stretch that far.
And maybe it was scary, to take such a risk. To throw all her hope into this Healer.
Because stretching can be painful, huh?
But it was worth it. Because the Bible says that when she touched his cloak in faith, she was healed. And the next thing she knows, she's face to face with Jesus. The God-man who saw her, knew her, and changed her life.
She would no longer be a reject, a hurting nobody. Because in one moment, Jesus healed her body and her heart.
Girls, if you stretched out, with whatever amount of faith you have today, what would happen?
If you stretched out your faith, towards Jesus, what would happen?
What healing would you find?
Has the world labeled you as an outcast? That you are not good enough? Are you sick with fear? Insecurity? Is it pain from your family dynamics? Do you believe that you are 'unclean' because of your bad choices, your bad reputation, too unclean to come to Jesus?
What is in your heart that keeps you from living a full, abundant life?
What if you stretched out, for Jesus, girls? I can tell you that the same Jesus that stopped this woman's bleeding, can heal your heart. He sees you, even if you are down and practically on your face, like this woman. He loves you. If you reach out, you'll find Him. He will lift you up, teach you anew who you REALLY are, and give you purpose.
It might hurt. But it's worth it.
Sister, stretch out for Jesus, with all you got.
Because when we do, we come face to face with Him, with his truth, his love, and the abundant life he has for us.
You are loved girls.