I am a sucker for track meets. There I said it. Maybe it’s my middle school self that did the field events, or that most of the time it’s the Olympics I end up seeing. But something draws me in to the foot races. Having just taken up running in the last year or so I like to watch how they pace out or in relays where they hand off.
But mostly I like the close sprints at the end. I like the throwing of the body into every possible high gear imaginable and then seeing the stretch of the competitors as they cross for the hopeful win.
I was thinking on this as I watched the video recently of the Senior Olympics and the elderly women competing. One woman was walking the 100 yards, and still hauling tail doing it. But I didn’t see the women in this particular race pushing and stretching across the finish line. They’ve been there before. They have competed and are in the final laps of life (sorry to bring it down there) but that competitive streak just wasn’t there. They made it to that point and they were good with themselves.
Of course this has made me think about what we reach for in our lives. How we stretch to grasp a particular thing in our lives. And I come back to a story about another woman who stretched in faith to obtain something she desperately needed.
We don’t know her name, but in a just a few sentences we see much about her life story. We find her in Matthew 9, as Christ is being called to the home of a Jewish leader at the death of his daughter. This is after the incident in the boat, where Christ calls out for peace in the midst-pointing to the disciples lack of faith in the midst. She is a woman who probably has been cast out of the village, separated because of an ongoing condition that made her unclean. It probably also meant she was without children and possibly without a husband. She was dealing with a medical issue that had gone on for 12 years, intermittently.
She was unclean. Cast out. Alone. Questioning. Seeking healing.
I find I identify with her sometimes. The perception of so much rolled into one person…just fighting to get within arms’ reach of Christ. I wonder how long she journeyed, how long it took her to approach Him. But she came.
She came seeking. She came stretching, in the faith that He would make her well. Being in His very presence encouraged her faith in Him. I don’t know if she pondered, but I like to think she saw her opportunity and believed on Him in a split second, reaching to touch just His garment. Knowing that was enough. That HE is enough.
Trust. Faith. Hope.
Never more do I see faith in action than when I read this story and think about her. Those times when I see that I need to stretch and I allow the doubts, fears, my own voice, my ego, pride, and sin tell me to pull back and trust in my own way instead. I want to cling to that faith that I drew into 17 years ago. The faith that I cling to and grasp ahold of with all that I can hold. Oh but to reach just a bit farther into His Presence, in the midst of mourning, of busy and chaos, just to be healed.
That faith that Christ admonished the disciples for lacking so little of she was filled with in just a moment. She knew it was only in Him would salvation be found, the blood would stop draining from her and she would be made clean, whole.
All it took was a reach of faith. Stretching beyond herself into Who He is. Trusting His Presence more than self. Believing in faith bigger than anything else this world wants to offer as a distraction, respite or temporary salve.
And so I reach beyond my own boundaries, my own self to be in His Presence. Faith confirmed. Faith assured.
Stretching for His touch, believing it’s about Him and not in my power.