Saturday, November 5, 2011

Windows of Opportunity

“And He was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath.  And, behold, there was a woman which had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bowed together, and could in no wise lift up herself.  And when Jesus saw her, He called her to Him, and said unto her, Woman, thou art loosed from thine infirmity.  And he laid His hands on her: and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God.”  Luke 13:10-13 (KJV)

I love this story.  It is not one of the more widely-proclaimed miracles Jesus performed, and the actual event takes up only four little verses in the book of Luke.  But, it speaks loud volumes about the character of our Lord. 

Jesus was teaching in the synagogue.  It doesn’t tell us the subject of His lesson that day, but whatever it was, He was ever-alert and aware of what and who was in His surroundings.  I can just visualize Him standing there in front of the congregation, deep into His message, when all of a sudden, He looks out on the crowd, and He spots her.  As His eyes fell upon her, He immediately took in her condition.  He could have gone on teaching…the synagogue was more than likely packed with people who were highly interested in what He had to say.  Could He disappoint them with an interruption?  After all, the woman had been infirmed for 18 years…couldn’t she wait until He finished delivering His sermon to the crowd?  She was used to her condition, and evidently, she had accepted it.  There is no indication in this story to lead us to believe she made an effort or asked someone to help her come forward to ask Jesus for healing.  She was just someone in the crowd.

But, was she?  Jesus saw her, and He knew her whole history.  He wouldn’t ignore the fact that she had a desperate need, and He had the power to change her life forever for the better.  Could He have just ignored her and acted like He didn’t see?  Sure He could have.  After all, the audience contained important people who were rapt with attention and hanging on His every word.  But, He saw her.  He really saw her.  And what He saw stirred a deep compassion within Him.  He refused to pretend her condition didn’t exist.  He didn’t wait for her to ask for help.  It says, “When Jesus saw her, He called her to Him.”  Oh, can you imagine?  Can’t you just picture her lumbering her way to where He was…I don’t know how hard it was to get there, but He had called and she had to reach Him!  As she arrived, He spoke those liberating words “Woman, thou art LOOSED from thine infirmity.”  (I just have an urge to put an exclamation point there!)  “Woman, you are FREE!  No more can this awful affliction trouble you.  I have seen you, my heart has been moved with compassion upon you, and I will not ignore your need!” 

Then Jesus laid His hands on her….oh the power of that healing touch!  This woman was completely bent over.  Her spine was in such a condition that she couldn’t even lift herself or straighten up.  But, when Jesus touched her…there was a change!  It didn’t take hours or days or weeks or months.  It says “Immediately she was made straight”.  I can just imagine her relief as she was able to stand tall and straight and without pain.  How amazed she must have felt to be able to glance around the crowd and look them in the eye!  She began to glorify God.  Her joy was complete!

What if Jesus had waited?  The woman very likely could have left early to try to beat the others out of the synagogue.  I can just imagine she was insecure not wanting undue attention and was accustomed to slipping away from the glares of curious onlookers.  If Jesus would have continued His teaching to appease the crowd, the window of opportunity for her healing could have been closed forever.  Perhaps their paths would never have crossed again, and she would have continued the rest of her life in misery after having come so close to the healing power of God.

As I ponder this situation, I see a deep-lying, overpowering compassion in Jesus Christ.  He refused to overlook the needs of hurting people around Him.  Even when they didn’t ask, His heart was moved, and He offered them healing.  This was her chance, and He was not going to let it pass by without completely meeting her need. 

There are windows of opportunity all around you and me to make a positive difference in our world.  We all have our own circle in which to work and be a blessing.  Only you can minister to those in your circle in the unique way God has gifted you personally.  The woman in today’s story didn’t ask for help; for various reasons, people in our lives won’t always ask either.  How many windows of opportunity have there been for you or I to help someone?  And how many times have we allowed the windows to close because we just didn’t want to get involved, didn’t want to stop what we were doing, or didn’t want to deny ourselves?  There are hurting people everywhere…I guarantee if you stop and think, it won’t take long for you to think of at least one person in your life who needs to receive the healing that comes through the love of Jesus Christ.  Remember this, people won’t always be there.  They move on, they pass away, their lives improve and their situations change.  They won’t always need you like they do right now. 

So, what will you do?  Will you ignore the problem and pretend you don’t see it?  Or will you acknowledge that there is a need, but turn your head and look the other way, pretending it isn’t happening?  Jesus didn’t.  He stopped what He was doing, and He made a permanent difference in the afflicted woman’s life.  What if He had put the message He was teaching above the need for the message?  What if He had taught healing, yet allowed her to leave unhealed?  So ask yourself, my friend, who in your life needs help?  Each difficulty has its own window of opportunity.  Don’t let them close without seizing the moments…they won’t last forever, and one day the chance to make a difference in that person’s life and situation will be gone. 

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