By Brian Onken
That’s often what I want to know. I ask Jesus when he will do something, how long will it take him to attend to some need, when he will finally get around to what I think is so important. Feeling the magnitude of my own needs and trying to find a way to lean into him and his grace, I tend to prod him: “When are you going to do something about this?“
I want to find a way to live in the midst of life not quite playing out according to my day-timer. I can tell myself that “He knows best;” but that doesn’t always help. I need to see more than that. And, the Gospels help me. I think about Mark 5.
Mark tells us of how Jesus was on his way to keep a little girl from dying (Mark 5:21-43); pressing need, concerned father, compassionate Jesus. All the makings of a great rescue, a timely meeting of a need. But then an interruption comes.
A woman with a bleeding problem worked her way through the crowd surrounding Jesus as he was on his way to the home where the little girl was. The woman longed for healing; she knew she might find relief in Jesus. She reached out, touching him through the crowd, looking to him for her need. And she was healed. In that moment, immediately, she was healed. And she knew it. And Jesus knew it. And then the really strange thing happened. Jesus stopped.
Although Jesus knew she was healed and the woman knew she was healed, although Jesus was on his way to prevent something terrible from happening to a little girl, Jesus stopped. He asked for the woman to come forward. And she meekly made her way back through the crowd. And Mark tells us that she “told him the whole truth” about twelve years of suffering, many futile medical treatments, spending all she had in looking for a cure; that report must have taken minutes spilling over into more and more time. Time spent hearing a story while a little girl was dying.
And I struggle with that. “Jesus, why are you dawdling here? You know this woman is healed! She knows she is healed. And there is a little girl on the edge of death. Why are you wasting time with this?“
And then I see it. Jesus is not wasting time. He is spending time. He is in charge of his days and hours and minutes and is freely giving it as he sees fit. His time with the woman is well spent; although she needed physical healing, she also needed the attention and compassion that could only be tasted in his listening to her tell her whole saga. He is doing more than healing her physical need, he is caring for her as a person.
Even though when he arrives at the home of the little girl she has already died, he has not squandered time. He is in charge of his days and hours and minutes and is investing his time as he sees fit. And even though those at the home think Jesus has arrived too late, he hasn’t. He takes the little girl by the hand and raises her up. He is doing all that they had hoped for and more.
In this crowded, busy, chaotic, mix of needs and longings, requests and demands, tears and terror, Jesus is not rushed nor hurried, neither too late or inattentive. He does what he does in just the right time to do what he deems best. And the needs are met, in unexpected ways and broader and deeper than anticipated. And he accomplishes all that he intends to, without capitulating to the crushing burden of the schedules others might have for him.
I want to taste that in my own life. In my crowded, busy, chaotic life, filled with a mix of needs and longings, requests and demands, tears and terrors, I want to put my hand in Jesus’ knowing that he will do what he deems best in just the right time. Neither taking too much time on this nor overlooking that because he ran out of time.
I watch him with the woman who reached out to him. I listen as he talks with the man whose daughter is dying. I see him as he takes the hand of the little girl and welcomes her back to life. And then I realize–his timing is impeccable.
Brian is on a life long adventure into an ever-expanding experience of joy in being a follower of Jesus. Reflections on this adventure can be found at his blog, Summathetes.