When it comes to personalities, I am a Planner, and being a Planner means a lot of things frustrate me.
Slow people, for one. Like when you’re in a hurry somewhere to do something, or late for something, and everyone around you seems to be taking their leisurely time with strolling – I literally can’t deal! The sinner in me literally has to stop herself from going ape-crazy and just shoving people out of my way lol.
And what about interruptions??? Yes, there have always been 24 hours in a day, and we are constantly building new contraptions to make more and more of it available for other things – but let’s face it, very few of us can say we have the time for unwanted interruptions. There’s just so much more to do: deadlines to meet and errands to run, and I personally hate to waste a second if it’s not for sleep purposes lol. So any disruption or interruption to my meticulously planned schedule – especially when there’s something at stake or a goal to reach at the end of it – makes me very very unhappy.
And don’t even get me started on having to wait – especially when it’s urgent or a seemingly life or death situation. Lines and crowds are just generally a natural deterrent for me. It’s why I dislike shopping in-store or going to concerts and events.
So, in light of all these, I can’t even begin to imagine how Jarius felt.
You may or may not know this man, but he’s pretty famous by Biblical standards. His story is recounted in three out of four of the gospels of Jesus. He was a prominent leader in his time – a ruler of the synagogue – and had an ailing daughter at home. Hearing of Jesus and his miraculous healing power, Jarius seeks him out, falls at his feet, and begs him to come save his daughter.
Jesus obliges his request. I can see Jarius’ eyes lighting up, and just imagine how his heart skipped a beat in hope that his daughter would be healed by this man.
But just as they are about to set off, there comes an interruption:
Jesus stops in his tracks and asks, “Who touched me?”
Jarius looks around. There are literally thousands of men, women and children all pushing and shoving for even as little as a glimpse of Jesus. His own hands have brushed more body parts then he would have liked. Jesus couldn’t possibly be serious asking this question!
“We’re like sardines in a can here, Teacher,” Peter points out to him, noticing the dismay on Jarius’ face. “Any number of people could have touched you. We’re kind of in a hurry here.”
But Jesus doesn’t budge. “No, someone touched me. Power left me. I felt it.” He continues to scan the crowd, searching for the culprit. After what seems like a lifetime, a woman steps forward and falls at Jesus’ feet, just as Jarius had moments before. She confesses herself to be the one who had touched Jesus, recounting the story of her sickness and how Jesus healed her. Jesus calmly listens and reassures her of her healing.
At this point, I’m sure Jarius starts to panic. His daughter is lying on her death bed. Jesus isn’t the fastest walker in the world as is – there’s no way he can save his daughter’s life if he spends all this time trying to connect with and heal others. Jarius knew that if things continued this way, they would not make it to his daughter in time.
And it’s in this that I can identify with Jarius.
I too have put God on a timeline – a deadline after which my world will end if he does not do something quick. And, like Jarius, as I beseech Jesus to come attend to my pressing matters, I look on as he takes his leisurely time and tends to others’.
Sometimes it can seem like God is working on everyone else’s problems but yours, even when yours seem to be the most dire ones. You are literally at the end of your rope, and Jesus seems to have turned away to deal with other requests. And like frustrated customers when someone crosses in front of us in line, we protest: “I was here first! I have worked the hardest! I deserve this the most! Can you not see me standing right here?! I need your attention more!”
And then, as expected, the worst happens. The deadline comes and nothing has changed. Suddenly your greatest fears are realized. Your bank account is empty. You lost your job, or a loved one, or a dream. Everything you worked for falls apart.
As Jesus tended to others, Jarius’ world fell apart too. As they finally pulled away from the crowd, Jarius received news from someone in his household that his daughter had died.
“Do not trouble Jesus anymore.” They said. “It’s over.”
But without hesitation Jesus spoke up:
“Do not fear; only believe, and she will be well.”
Reading this story this morning reminded me of how easy it is to put limitations on God. We set up imaginary deadlines and are in a hurry to make them, and are completely bewildered – and honestly quite frustrated – when it seems like Jesus is taking his sweet time in meeting them.
But guess what? The creator of the Universe isn’t running on our time. He is not functioning in the same 24-hour time frame we are. Our deadlines mean nothing to Him – and by expecting Him to stick to them, we are essentially limiting his power in our lives. We stop ‘troubling’ Jesus – we stop praying and believing simply because we cannot see Him for who He is – omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent.
He is a God of suddenlies.
The story continues that Jesus goes to the girl (who is indeed dead), calls to her, and suddenly she gets up. God can step into the middle of your mess at any moment – even when it seems like it’s all dead and gone – and SUDDENLY radically change it for the better.
Just imagine what God could achieve in our lives if we stopped limiting his abilities to our schedule. If we believed in Him and His power to change things for our good even after the case was closed and the verdict had been given.
Just imagine what would happen if we actually believed that God was God and stopped limiting Him to our own abilities and deadlines.
Today God is asking me – asking you – ‘Will you take the limits off of me? Will you release me from your constraints and allow me to do what it is that I do: “exceedingly and abundantly far beyond ALL that you can ask, think, or imagine?”’
I don’t know about you, but I definitely have some deadlines in my planner that I have penned Him into, and it’s about time I take Him off.