It has been quite a while since I have sat to put thoughts on paper. Indeed it was BA (Before Africa) as I have a tendency to measure time these days. Yes, the trip did have that kind of impact and one of these days I will write a series of blogs about our time there. But today, on this last weekend before I begin my 20 or 30 something year of teaching I want to write about a well- known story from Luke 13:10-17.
The story is so well known to me that I hadn’t expected any surprises. It was part of my Bible reading plan for the day and I had in mind a quick read and then getting on with the day. Oh, how I love the Holy Spirit who brings freshness to old stories and causes us to see with new eyes. The story of the bent over woman is my story and yours and any who are “cumbered by a load of care,” as the hymn writer says.
I am a tall girl who was self-conscious about her height; I learned to slump so as not to draw attention to myself and even today I often sit and walk with rounded shoulders. After all, “Girls aren’t supposed to be six feet tall.,” a particularly painful parental pronouncement. This morning as I read this text I could hear my parents’ well intentioned voices telling me to “stand up straight.” I started to cry as I read Luke 13 again. In Greek it is so clear that this bent over woman is not unwilling to straighten up but UNABLE. I continued crying as I realized my own strident tendencies with students who I think should “straighten up and fly right.” Could it be that they, like me in my own adolescence, or like this poor woman are not unwilling but unable?
Bent over living offers a skewed view of the world and a very limited view of what is in front of us, the future and the hope Jesus has for us. Could it be that my job in my own sometimes bent over life is to take students close enough to Jesus so they can respond when He calls them forward as He surely will.? Will the Pharisee in me allow me to acknowledge the places where I myself so need to hear Him say, “Woman, you are set free from your infirmity.” Could it be that ours are the hands Jesus wants to use to help high school students and elderly people bent over with infirmity or besetting sin or a load of care find freedom?
Oh, the grace and compassion of our Jesus! He is not concerned about our inability and even woos us in our unwillingness to respond. How I long for my students to experience Him in me! Help me Holy Spirit to straighten up and praise Jesus. Help me to find real freedom as I respond to the Master’s gracious touch.