In seminary I was just an hour’s train ride from Manhattan. Upon hearing this, when my little sister came to visit, she insisted that we go into the city for an adventure. We loaded up all our tourist gear (huge cameras, ridiculous sandals, cross-body bags… yeah, we were stylin’) and hopped on the Staten Island Ferry.
The first thing we walked by was this beautiful farmer’s market with handmade pastas, heirloom tomatoes, and massive jars of pesto. My sister loves pesto with the fire of a thousand suns. So naturally, she bought a massive glass jar of it. Massive. Probably a seven pound glass jar, our first ten minutes in the city.
I tried to talk her out of it, but she wouldn’t hear of such a thing.
“It’s such a good deal!” she chirped, and loaded her arm-achingly large jar into a grocery bag.
Later that day my sister was fiddling with her camera when Jude Law walked right by us in Times Square. I saw him, but she didn’t notice him until he was just a few feet away. By the time it registered that a real-life celebrity was in our midst, he had walked half a block past us.
Suddenly my sister perked up.
“Wait!” she exclaimed. “That was… that was… WAIT!” She turned and sprinted down the sidewalk, camera and bag-with-pesto jar swinging wildly, sandals flapping, cross-body bag bumping on her hip.
Jude Law did what any celebrity would do in this situation. He ducked into stage door. My sister got a picture of… his ear.
[You probably didn’t know this, but Jude Law’s ear looks suspiciously like the ear of any other white dude with short hair. Not that impressive.]
She turned triumphant. “I got a picture!” she yelled. I put my face into my hands.
“I canNOT believe you did that,” I said, my humiliation tempered only by the fact that no one knew us and we would almost certainly never see Mr. Law again.
“Desperate times call for desperate measures, Court,” she said.
This story is now family lore at my house, but the point is an intriguing one. Desperate times do call for desperate measures. It’s the only reason people sleep-train their kids. It’s how they find contestants for The Biggest Loser. It’s how people get to a crossroads and think, “Something has GOT to change.”
When have you been desperate? When have you acted out of character?
In the Gospel of Luke Jesus meets a woman who has been bleeding for twelve years. We don’t know her name or much else about her, but we know that she was desperate.
Desperate enough to break every social norm and reach out to grab hold of Jesus.
Bleeding women weren’t to touch people. This woman did.
Women weren’t to touch men. This woman did.
Unclean people weren’t to reach out. This woman did.
In her desperation she reached up to grab hold of Jesus’ robe.
44 Coming up behind Jesus, she touched the fringe of his robe. Immediately, the bleeding stopped.
45 “Who touched me?” Jesus asked.
Everyone denied it, and Peter said, “Master, this whole crowd is pressing up against you.”
46 But Jesus said, “Someone deliberately touched me, for I felt healing power go out from me.” 47 When the woman realized that she could not stay hidden, she began to tremble and fell to her knees in front of him. The whole crowd heard her explain why she had touched him and that she had been immediately healed.
Her desperation leads her to Jesus, and he responds to her desperate measures not with anger or accusation but by calling her his own.
“Daughter,” he says, “your faith has made you well. Go in peace.”
What are you desperate for today? Health? Strength? Peace? Security? What would drive you into a busy crowd to grab on to Jesus?
What are you waiting for?
As a parent of an infant who has decided I’m Snack Bar #1, I’m desperate for sleep. Like, mind-numbingly desperate for it. My exhaustion could drive me away from God or toward him. In my moments of deepest desperation (and believe me, there have been many these past weeks!) I’m choosing to cry out in prayer to the God who calls me “Daughter.”