Aug 312013

Matthew 14 contains larger than life, dramatic stories of Jesus’ ministry. The miraculous feeding of more than 5000 people, starting with just a sack lunch. Wave walking across the Sea of Galilee in the middle of a storm and inviting Peter to join him. Pretty big stuff, right?

Tucked into the last several verses of the chapter, almost as an afterthought, is an additional ministry experience that most of us would probably skim right over and ignore.

And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down.  Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.” When they had crossed over, they landed at Gennesaret.  And when the men of that place recognized Jesus, they sent word to all the surrounding country. People brought all their sick to him 36 and begged him to let the sick just touch the edge of his cloak, and all who touched it were healed. Matthew 14:32-26 NIV.

As dramatic as the whole wave walking thing was, it only affected 12 men. When Jesus got out of the boat, the entire region turned out, bringing all their sick with them. How many were healed? Dozens? Hundreds? By what power? The power of just a touch. Just a brief connection with Jesus.

How do I affect those around me. The ones with whom I come in contact every day. In my department or walking the halls of the hospital. What healing do I bring? Is a momentary contact with me one that uplifts those around me or pulls them down?

Touching the hem of Jesus’ cloak- this is something beyond the reach of our coworkers, our friends, our family.  Jesus, the One who brings worlds into existence with a word, chooses to use our hands, our mouths, yours…. and mine, to touch those around us with healing, with encouragement, with forgiveness, with grace. Will you choose to act and to speak for Him? I pray that I will be a faithful, though imperfect, mimic, using His own power to imitate Him one day at a time.

Aug 062013

Jodie Foster and Chow Yun-Fat starred in a movie entitled Anna and the King. In it, a young Englishwoman contracts with the King of Siam (now Thailand) to teach English to his many children and wives. She finds herself immersed in a culture and religion very different from her own. Struggling to find a balance between accepting and challenging practices she finds immoral, she speaks out for those she feels are being mistreated.

Thousands of years earlier, another young lady was also surrounded by a culture and religion completely different from her own. This is the biblical story of Esther who became queen after being drafted into the king’s harem. Palace intrigue resulted in her people being set up for legally sanctioned genocide. The fact that she had kept her Jewish heritage a secret added to the drama. She felt powerless and frightened.

Her cousin, her guardian since she was a young girl, sent her a message of challenge including these words:

And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this? Esther 3:14 NIV.

Facing certain death if her uninvited visit to the king was not accepted, she, her retinue, her family, and the entire Jewish community fasted and prayed for three days. She entered the king’s throne room and was enthusiastically received by the king! After inviting the king to several banquets in his honor, she finally begged the king for the lives of her people.

Both of these stories caused change, resulting in improved human and civil rights. Both featured a person with very limited, very carefully delineated authority. Both chose to act and to speak in the face of great personal risk.

Each one of us face challenges, situations where people around us are hurting and need help. This is certainly true in healthcare as hospitals across the country reel from the impact of drastic cuts in reimbursement. In my own hospital, our struggle to manage expenses has resulted in the loss of work family members.

I speak especially to coworkers and to fellow leaders today. There are two take away elements to these stories that could apply to you and to me. First, are you willing to speak, to act, to lead in a way that protects and cares for those lost work family members? Second, when you wish you were working and leading in a calm and unruffled place, remember that you may very well be called to a challenging experience “for such a time as this”.

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