Thursday, March 10, 2011

1,015 miles

That's how far I chased Him. 
Last year, a friend recommended I attend a writer's conference in North Carolina called She Speaks
"But, I'm too sick for such a trip. What would I eat?  How would I leave my bathroom? I could never fly alone."
I was sick. Every meal I ate made me nauseated. Every doctor I saw was baffled. Every test they ran was negative. Everything from the neck down painful. Any hope of normalcy lay crumpled in a pile on the cold floor. I wanted to be able to name it. This thing. To write a diagnosis on paper and rebuke it. It would be a dream come true to attend such a conference, but my courage waned at the thought of leaving my corner.  This captivity was friendly as long as I didn't move. 
But, God kept whispering this passage to my heart:
"And behold a woman who had been suffering from a hemorrhage for twelve years, came up behind Him and touched the fringe of His cloak for she was saying to herself, "If I only touch His garment, I shall get well.  But Jesus turning and seeing her said, "Daughter take courage; your faith has made you well. And at once the woman was made well."  Matthew 9:20-22
Her story followed me everywhere. My Bible would fall open to the exact page, the preacher would remember her faith in church on Sunday, and the one time I let anyone guest post on my blog...she used her story in the post. What was God trying to tell me?  
That He could heal me?
I knew that...but healing eluded me.
That she had great faith?
I saw her faith...and I was trying to believe.
For some reason, I felt that my healing and attending this conference were somehow inter-connected but I wasn't sure why.
In theory, I knew all the biblical things to do.  I tried to hurl this pain headlong into the throne room for healing, but it felt stuck to me.  I was jealous of her, this bleeding woman.  She had Jesus in the flesh. If I had Jesus in the flesh, I would just touch His garment like she had. 
How do you touch someone invisible? 
But, those words stayed in front of me so many times that it became very apparent that those red letters were mine.  
Three people offered me money to go to the conference. 
I bought a plane ticket.
During each class, I waited for a miracle. 
 I was there because somehow, I felt that God's garment, His healing cloak, was in that very place. 
The last session had arrived and although my soul was renewed, my body still struggled. I thought of the bleeding woman as I waited for the speaker to begin.
To bleed like that must have come with such shame.  I wanted to hug her. I wondered what bleeding was worse, that of her body or her heart?  Mine was raw with embarrassment and disappointment. 
I understood her pain.
The constant desire to run from her circumstance.
It was the unmistakable disappointment that accompanied chronic illness. 
The isolation, the embarrassment, and the desperation. 
It was the last session.
Karen Ehman got up to speak.  She cried.  We shared many commonalities. She was ashamed that she hadn't learned as much of God's word as she should have.  Guilt surged within me as I hung my head. Me too. Me too. I could count on 10 fingers. I knew a battery of half-memorized verses, never with a reference. God had been knocking patiently. Instructing me to remedy the problem. Since my teens, He had been gently calling me to maturity.  I had not obeyed. Why?  I remembered the bleeding woman.
 I cried again, "Lord, how do I touch the hem of your garment?"   
 Karen pleaded to not be like her.  It was a call to maturity in the Word. 
 An implosion of clarity and knowledge exploded in my mind. A simple truth - to be devoted in the study of God's word. To memorize the truth, and quit being spoon-fed. To not just rely on prayer and church. 
The Spirit revealed to me: to know Him through His word is to touch Him.  To spend time in His word is to wrap myself up in the robe of His healing power. 
 I don't have to live when Jesus did to experience the gift of healing. I just have to call upon the Name of the Lord and bathe myself in the Word of God. The power that I lacked, the ability to RECEIVE healing, was physically found in those red letters. 
My own disobedience had hindered my healing.
Clarity. Repentance. Alter Call. 
 I promised myself if I got the chance for someone to pray for me, I wouldn't sit still in my seat.  My feet wasted no time in charging towards a prayer partner.  
With heaving sobs I was there. 
 The woman who prayed for me didn't even know what she said, but she mentioned her, the bleeding one. 
"Lord your word says there was a woman who had been bleeding for 12 years. She touched the hem of your garment and was healed. Lord heal Jessica like you healed her."  
I promised God that I would not be a babe in His word anymore.  Prayer wasn't enough to sustain this body.  I couldn't take pieces of Him. 

He didn't want pieces of me. 
All of me. Wholly, fully devoted to Him.
I carefully unwrapped the folded slip of paper I had retrieved from the alter on the way back to my seat..."If you love Me, you will keep my commandments." John 14:15  
No coincidence.
My paper was soaked. 
Soaked with grace. 
"Yes, Lord, I love you.  I hear you.  Thank you for meeting me here in this place."  
Last year, I traveled 1,015 miles for healing.  This year, I hope to travel 1,015 miles to learn how to effectively tell other's about the mercy, grace, and healing that God wishes to pour upon all of us .  

"It is He who reveals the profound and hidden things; He knows what is in the darkness and the light dwells with Him." Daniel 2:22

She Speaks is a Christian writer's conference for women seeking to give God glory through ministry, a place to connect with the very heart of God.   Ann Voskamp is offering a scholarship to attend She Speaks this year which will be July 22-24. If you are interested in her scholarship click HERE to read the guidelines.   You can find out more information about other scholarships on the conference website HERE


Kristy K said...

I love this Jess!!! You've grown so much since last year's conference! I can't wait to see what God is doing with you and your writing!

Jessica Kirkland said...

Thank you Kristy K. I appreciate your friendship so much! Even from a far! Maybe one day we'll get to meet up in real life!

Aimee said...

BEAUTIFUL post, Jessica! I can relate to the woman with the issue of blood... I have a theory about her: I don't think she just quickly and quietly walked up behind Jesus. I think she had to crawl on her hands and knees and fight to get to him.

Thanks for stopping by my blog and for commenting.

Teagan's Travels said...

I am coming over from Lysa's page and wanted to add that this is a beautiful post and very inspiring!

Jill Beran said...

Great words Jess! I love how you paint the picture and weave the stories together - beautiful really! Your writing and God's work!! Praying He will make a way and trusting He will!! Blessings, Jill

Jessica Kirkland said...

Aimee - Yes, I think you are probably right. Especially when you consider how hard it must have been to get to Jesus Himself at any given point. The crowds were always pressing down on him. Also, being a woman during that time would probably pose another obstacle to getting near Him. Thanks for stopping by my blog as well.

@Teagan- Thank you so much for reading. I love visitors!

@Jill - Thank you - hopefully we can meet up at the conference if you end up going! Thanks for reading and commenting.

stephanie said...

Beautiful! :)

lisasmith said...

Jess, I LOVE this... wrapping ourselves in the Word is wrapping ourselves in the robe. Beautiful!! I love His words. Love, love, love.

I can't wait to see you!!! (At She Speaks and at FOW) :D

Donna said...

Jessica, Your story is absolutely gripping. I have to admit, I am one of the ones who wants to go to the conference....but after reading your post I want to go even more. It seems to be so much more than just a "conference".
If I'm not one chosen for the conference, I consider myself a winner all the same for having met people like you through their blogs...through the stories of how God has touched their lives. Thank you.

Jessica Kirkland said...

thank you for reading stephanie.

Donna, yes, I felt like it was much more than a conference. It was life-changing for me. And I made so many good friends. It's weird how you can be with new ladies for 4 days and feel like you've known them for years. Thank you for reading and hopefully we will both get to go and meet up.

Susan said...

What a beautiful story - gave me goosebumps! Thank you for sharing it.

Jessica Kirkland said...

thank you for reading Susan!