Monday, October 13, 2008

The Long Walk Home

Then a man named Jairus, a ruler of the synagogue, came and fell at Jesus’ feet, pleading with him to come to his house because his only daughter, a girl of about twelve, was dying (Luke 8:41).

Urgency will drive us to Jesus, but what keeps us there when the sense of urgent need no longer exists?

Some prayers are born of panic. Sudden illness, financial crises, fragile relationships, unexpected and unwanted news that leaves us disoriented, not having a clue what’s next – these things drive us to Jesus and put us on our knees before him. But sometimes these things resolve. Eventually the crisis passes. The disorientation leads us to what is often called a “new normal.” And then what? Do we remain humbly before Jesus? Or do we wander off and take care of our own stuff until the next crisis pushes us back to the ground where Jesus patiently stands?

A man named Jairus had a twelve year old daughter who was dying. Things don’t get more urgent than that. This urgency pushed him to seek out Jesus, a bold move for this synagogue ruler. As one who had oversight of the place of worship, he had surely heard things about Jesus. Perhaps he’s even been in on the conversations, the disparaging remarks, the questions, the theological critiques of what the young rabbi says and does. Jairus has been watching Jesus from a distance. And as he has watched and wondered about Jesus, his daughter has gotten worse.

So when a crowd gathers on the shore of the Sea of Galilee to meet Jesus, Jairus is there. His words and actions reflect both boldness and desperation. He falls at Jesus’ feet. “My little daughter is at the point of death. Come and lay your hands on her” (Mark 5:23).

And Jesus goes with him. What begins now is a long walk home. It is in this walk that the drama of the story unfolds. Will they make it back in time?

Walking with Jesus when we feel the press of some urgent need is not easy for us. We prefer a quicker response. There is a similar story in the gospels where Jesus is asked by a Roman centurion to heal one of his servants. Jesus, once again, is ready to make the journey in order to heal. This time the centurion stops him and acknowledges that Jesus has the authority to simply speak a healing word and it will be done. Jesus then does just that. He speaks healing from a distance and the servant is made well (Matthew 8:5-13).

But Jairus will have to walk with Jesus. There is no chariot to whisk Jesus to the bedside of this little girl. No galloping steed kicking up a cloud of dust as Jesus runs to the rescue. None of that – just a long walk home. And it’s hard to walk when everything inside of you is screaming to run.

Some of you woke up today with urgency knotted up in your stomach: the stock market, your marriage, your business, your health, your kids. Urgencies come to us in so many ways. You’ve been praying and you know Jesus is with you - but Jesus seems so slow. Keep walking. Don’t run off looking for a quicker solution. Don’t take to yourself the role of savior. Just offer the urgencies of your life to Jesus and walk with him through this day.

Lord Jesus, urgent needs push us to prayer almost daily – but having prayed, we find it so hard to walk with you. Teach us to follow you today. Help us to keep our place as you set the pace, knowing that you will our good. “In the morning, O Lord, you hear my voice . . . I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation” (Psalm 5:3). Amen.

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