The Garment's Hem
We are going to Kenya.
Words I never really expected to come out of my mouth in a serious, actually-mean-it way. Yet, here we are. We are going to Kenya.
God has been preparing our hearts - my amazing husband's and mine - for this for two years. He has built up relationships with contacts there and given opportunity to minister through prayer and preaching long-distance. And then the call came, "Would you come?"
Yes. Yes, we will.
As I have prepared our home for us to be away, our kids to feel safe and be cared for while we are gone, our finances for us to remain in good standing, our various responsibilities to be covered, and my heart for however God may choose to use me in this, I have asked, "What is my role? In what way am I to serve the church and the people of Kenya while we are there?" The role I thought I would be serving - co-speaker with my husband during a five day pastors' conference - has suddenly been removed. One week from our departure date, our host for half of our trip has cancelled the conference. In the same day, we also learned that our host for the other half has extended his stay in the United States and will be returning to Kenya later than expected due to God opening a door for him that had been shut for a year. We will still hopefully meet and minister together, but it won't look the way we expected.
And so, as I watch and wait and listen for the Lord's voice in this new development, refusing to step in a direction without HIS direction, I am hearing clarification of a word that has been spoken over me regarding this trip. At first, when the word was given, it resonated with me, but I wasn't sure of the fullness of its meaning. It's coming into focus. And I. Am. So. Excited.
One of the key lessons of my walk with God has been learning to trust His character. His plans. His timing. In every area. Not just giving mental assent to Him and then running ahead in my own considerable intelligence and planning skill set (yeah, laugh at that - it's laughable and cringeworthy). Submission not out of domination and fear of His retaliation but out of surrender of my will to His; submission because I love Him and truly believe that He knows and does what is best has been a difficult discipline. And here I am, finding myself with my plans dashed to pieces on the floor and able only to hold to what He has planned but has not yet revealed.
Into this, the word: "Be the Hem of His Garment."
In the Gospels (Matthew 9, Mark 5, & Luke 8), Jesus is walking along, pressed in by the crowd, when He feels power flow from Himself to someone in the crowd. He stops. He turns. He asks who it is that has touched His garment. It has been a woman who had been severely ill for twelve years, exhausted all of her resources seeing doctors and surgeons to no avail, and had faith that were she to touch even just the hem - just the ceremonial fringe required of Jewish men's garments - she would be healed. Her faith made her well, according to Jesus...but what was the role of the hem itself?
The hem, or fringe, was sewn into the garment as an identifier of the wearer with Jehovah God. This person, wearing this garment, was an obedient keeper of the commands of Yahweh. (Numbers 15:37-41) And so, if I am to be the hem, I am to be identified with Jesus. Closely tied, knit with Him in such a way that an observer in a crowd will readily know that I belong to Him . That if they can just touch me, they'll touch Him.
The hem was at the bottom edge, on the corners of the garment. It did not prominently display on the front or on the shoulders. It drug along the ground, getting dirty as Jesus walked the streets. If I am to be the hem, I am to be willing to be humble, to get dirty - to go where Jesus walks. I am not to be decorative or flashy or calling attention to myself; just present. At the bottom of the garment. Hanging on Jesus, going where He goes. Willing to take a bit of dust in my face. The occasional trampling by thoughtless crowds.
The hem had no power in itself. It was not the hem that healed the sick woman. It simply connected her to Jesus. Her faith and His power combined across those tasseled threads, and a miracle occurred. If I am to be the hem, when people reach out to me, in order for miracles to happen and healing to take place, I need to be about the task of connecting them to Jesus - the author and finisher of their faith. It's not about me. It's about Him, to them, through me.
The hem was available. It was not an inner garment, hidden away and protectively out of reach of the crowd. It was not worn so high on the body that someone downtrodden and crushed by those around could not reach it. It was low and accessible. Even a woman unable to stand was able to reach the hem and be connected to Jesus, receiving His healing. I am to be available to anyone; not just the pastors or the leaders or the easy ones to be around. Not just to the ones of note or of regional authority. To the humiliated, broken, sick, hurting, and crushed by life. The ones that need Jesus to stop the slow, constant bleed that's killing them.
Being the Hem of the Garment. It is not about being the thing that finally works for someone after twelve years of medical hell. It is not about claiming dominion and pronouncing authority over sickness. It, like everything else, is about submitting to walking where Jesus walks, wherever that may be. Hanging on Him, animated into motion by Him, moving as He moves, stopping as He stops, turning as He turns, and being grasped by desperate hands without recoiling from them. It is about bridging the gap between Him and them. And it is about His power flowing through me to accomplish their restoration.
Lord, Jesus. Where are you going to walk while we are in Kenya? Wear me as the hem of your garment and let me go with You.