In the past 6 months, I’ve seen this phrase play out in Scripture repeatedly. In Luke chapter 8 Jesus was on his way to the ruler of the Synagogue’s house to heal the ruler’s deathly ill daughter. As they rushed through the crowded streets to reach the young girl, there was a woman who sought out to find Jesus. She had been sick for over a decade, and as she saw him she reached out for his cloak. This was an act of complete faith. She believed that merely touching the Messiah would bring her healing – and it did. As soon as she touched him, she was healed. Jesus then sought the woman out of the crowd, knowing that someone had touched his cloak. This story shows us that in the middle of all the busyness, Jesus stops. This woman would have been just as in awe of Him if all she received was healing, but Jesus stopped to acknowledge her, to call her daughter, and to tell her that her faith has made her well.
Reaching out, in its most vulnerable form is sticking out your hand and waiting faithfully for someone to grab ahold of you.
Before my involvement with ministry, my definition of “reaching out” would have been casually saying “Hey I’m here if you need to talk!” But let’s be real, that’s an invitation that, unless said genuinely, is hardly ever taken up on. In the past year and a half, my definition of reaching out has been redefined. I would define it as a bit more literal. Reaching out, in its most vulnerable form is sticking out your hand and waiting faithfully for someone to grab ahold of you.
In Thailand, I experienced reaching out in a way that shook me to my core. While working with the Ruth Center, a ministry committed to investing into the elderly in the slums of Bangkok. Towards the end of my two months in Thailand, I prayed that God would break my heart for what breaks His and that he would allow me to see the Thai people with his eyes. The following morning, I’d almost wished that I hadn’t prayed so boldly because God fulfilled my request in a very real way.
We stood frozen for what felt like hours, hands shaking and hearts breaking for the practically dead woman lying in front of us.
It was a normal day of ministry where we went to the slums and would talk with the elderly people living there. When we were there, my translator pointed to a small shed, telling us that there was a woman there that we could choose to either go see or to keep walking to the next house. I looked at my friend Carly, and without words we both knew that we needed to go see this woman. As we climbed over piles of metal scraps and garbage to this tiny shack, we questioned how it was even possible that someone lived there. We approached the opening of the shed and laying on the ground was a woman. She was naked and frail, her skin was dry and she laid on the hard wooden ground, covered in her own feces. We stood frozen for what felt like hours, hands shaking and hearts breaking for the practically dead woman lying in front of us. In that moment, we had no idea how to pray. We had no idea how to tell this woman that there is hope in Christ and that he wants to save her.
On my own I would have left and run the other way out of fear from what I’d seen…
In one moment I was outside of the shed looking in, and in the next I was on my knees next to her. I tried to give her water but she couldn’t sit up, she choked the water right up and laid coughing in front of me. Out of a total lack of words to say, I grabbed her hand and her blind eyes seemed to have looked right at me… But it wasn’t me that she saw. I believe that the woman saw Jesus that day. On my own I would have left and run the other way out of fear from what I’d seen, but praise Jesus that He is better than I am. He stepped in using my hands and feet to tell this woman that she is loved.
Since this day, the image of her hand replays in my mind. I dream of her and instantly grieve because of her need for Jesus. In studying the Word, God has shown me that this woman is a picture of the condition of which He sees His lost children. He has challenged me to look at the lost in the same way. At some point in each of our lives, we have all been in the condition of this woman in the slums. We are no better than the homeless man down the street, the murderer in prison or the prostitute on the corner because without Jesus we are all in the same condition of spiritual bankruptcy. We are lying in feces, frail, exposed, and absolutely blind without Him.
So what do we do about that? The answer is not all that profound. It’s actually pretty simple. Our response to humanity’s condition without Jesus should be to repeatedly fall face down on the ground in prayer and boldly ask God to show us how He sees His lost children.
Our Father loves us by giving us His time, by the touch of a hand and by speaking truth over us. There are lost people everywhere, some of them are in shacks tucked away behind garbage and others are right in front of our very eyes… Knowing this, we are called to love simply and to know that we are simply loved.
Lend somebody a hand, pray for a stranger and know that God will use the ways you reach out to restore hearts.