Recently I heard from a couple readers who know they’re addicts or alcoholics, but just can’t find the willingness to reach for help. Their emails came with heartbreaking confessions. One began, “I’m drinking as I write this…”
I’ve so been there: you know you have a problem, you’re desperate to quit, you might even see the end coming, but you’re not quite ready to give up and reach for help.
It’s such a miserable place. In recovery we say, “It takes what it takes.” But we also say, “You reach the bottom when you quit digging.”
Another common thread in the emails I’ve been getting is fear of embarrassment or rejection. I so get that, too. It was a huge part of the reason I spent so many years begging God for a huge private miracle. I wanted him to zap me from heaven and declare in a booming voice, Your faith has made you well, Heather! Go your way and drink no more.
Or better yet, “Go your way and drink no more… than two glasses a night.”
The point is, I wanted my miracle my way.
I see a little of myself in the woman in the gospel story who’d been bleeding for twelve years. She thinks—correctly, it turns out—that if she can just reach out and touch Jesus’ garment, she’ll be healed. And no one will know.
But Jesus did know. He turns around and asks, “Who touched me?”
His disciples give him a funny look. “Uh, gee. We’re, uh, walking through a crowd?”
But Jesus persists. “I felt power flow from me,” he says.
Trembling with fear, the woman steps forward to confess that she’s the one who reached for him.
I’m pretty sure Jesus already knew this. And I wonder if he didn’t also know that naming her need in public was somehow a necessary part of her healing.
I was sober for a couple years before I understood that God’s power to heal and help me had been there all along. I simply couldn’t receive the miracle because I wanted it on my own terms—in a way that would spare my pride.
And what if God had chosen to deliver me my way? It would have been wonderful. I could have returned to my old life, relieved and grateful. Whew! That ‘being a drunk’ thing was awful! I’m so glad I’m past that now!
But God would have gotten no credit. And I would never have gotten into recovery, or written about it, or fell in love with the wonderful sober friends I had over for dinner last Tuesday night. I would never have come to understand how good it is to have to rely on God utterly, and on a daily basis.
Today, I’m so grateful that God in his kindness waited for me to say yes to healing on his terms and in his way. And the miracle is still going on. I experience it every time I grasp again for the dusting of grace that lies heavy on God’s cloak.
Every morning, I hear Jesus ask, “Who touched me?”
And every morning, I get to answer, “Me, Lord. It was me who reached out for you.”
I’d love to hear from you today. Have you ever begged God for a miracle on your own terms and gotten one on his?
P.S. This morning, Rachel Held Evans posted my response to the Q & A from her readers (smart people, by the way). I’ll hope you’ll come check it out–and ask me more questions about my answers