On a Sabbath Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues, and a woman was there who had been crippled by a spirit for eighteen years. She was bent over and could not straighten up at all. When Jesus saw her, he called her forward and said to her, “Woman, you are set free from your infirmity.” Then he straightened up and praised God. Luke 13:10-13
Bent over, crippled by life, unable to straighten up, her perspective shrinking day by day and year by year, all this woman could see was the ground immediately in front of her. The dry, dusty, rock-strewn dirt of Israel was her world. No longer could she lift her eyes to the hills in praise; no longer could she feel the warmth of the sun caressing her cheeks. The glorious sunrises and spectacular sunsets over the walls of Jerusalem were no more than shifting shadows to her; the tender expressions and rapturous joy on the faces of her loved ones were lost in her memories. The vibrant colors of her panoramic view were reduced to minimal shades of brown and grey.
Over the years, the woman came to know the music of life in a new way, depending on it to fill the void of her limited vision. Now it was the sounds that protected her from harm of encroaching crowds, running footsteps and rumbling chariots. Her ears welcomed the greetings of friends and family and found comfort in the quiet of a new dawn. Favorite pastimes no longer available to her crouching frame, she became adept at identifying personalities by sandals. Her guiding map consisted of rock formations as well known to her as the veins in her own feet. The seasons were identified by the nuances of shrub growth and the variety of crawling creatures that inhabited her limited world, now reduced to an endless ache in her back and pains in her neck.
And yet, she remained faithful. She was there in the synagogue that Sabbath day. It was her custom. Slowly she had followed that well-worn path to God’s house, seeking Him in her brokenness, her crippled gate measured and hesitant as she entered His courts, never dreaming how her perspective was about to change.
She couldn’t see Jesus, but she knew He would be there. She heard the murmuring of the crowds about this teacher who amazed even the temple leaders. The solace of cool marble floors breaking the tedium of dust and dirt, she was there among the curious, small and invisible, bent over in pain, unable to see.
But Jesus saw her! There in the synagogue on the Sabbath, engaged in teaching, surrounded by the towering heads of the Pharisees and Sadducees, Jesus looked out and He looked down, and He saw her. This broken, bent, crippled woman who could not see Him, but the one His infinite eyes had never lost sight of was fully seen by Him in that moment in time kept just for her.
He met her in the only way she could receive Him – He called her forward. I wonder, did He call her by name, the one He had given her before the foundation of time? Or was His voice so compelling that she had no choice but to move between the forests of legs that crowded her outlook? Oh, how sweet His voice must have sounded and how beautiful to her were His feet, the very feet of the One who would soon be pierced for the sins of the world. As her eyes focused on the worn leather of His sandals, she heard the love and compassion in His voice as He spoke words of freedom to her alone, “Woman, you are set free from your infirmity.”
And then He touched her!
Immediately, for the first time in eighteen years, she straightened her back, raised her head and looked full in the face of Immanuel, God with her, the Holy One of Israel. In His eyes, the infinite love of the ages, the tenderness of the Great Shepherd, the very glory of God, twinkled just for her. And she praised her Creator, her Savior, and her King.
She must have fallen at His feet in worship at that moment, the dust of His sandals now precious to her; she must have clutched His hands in thanksgiving, the very hands that had kept her from falling all those years and had finally, according to His perfect timing, lifted her head and changed her perspective forever –
From pain to praise,
From brokenness to blessedness,
From temporary monotony to eternal magnificence,
From the inconceivable to the incomparable,
From dirt to Deity.
Jesus, too often I am bent over and crippled by sin or the painful circumstances of my life dominate my perspective. Brokenness, grief, physical infirmities; the drudgery of laundry and dishes and work demands; the never-ending responsibilities of wife and mother, daughter and sister, friend and neighbor – all these can weigh me down. I miss the majesty of the moment. But there, in the smallness of my vision, You see me, You call me forward out of the grime! Change my perspective, Lord, from the temporal to the eternal and help me not to miss the blessed magnificence of Your incomparable Glory!