There’s something about Term 4 that screams “Deadlines” as the weeks count down to the year’s end. In times of stress and anxiety it’s so easy to lose sight of priorities. We can find ourselves on a hamster-wheel, with the speed so high we’re not sure if it’s more dangerous to stay on or jump off.
A centurion came to Jesus, pleading with Him, saying, “Lord, my servant is lying at home paralysed, dreadfully tormented. Matthew 8:6
What? Another interruption? Jesus was travelling from town to town, with a crowd perpetually following him with their needs and requests. It could have gone like this:
Jesus: I’ve got places to go, sermons to prepare, people to meet. I’m on a three year contract here. People keep stopping me. I haven’t got time to do everything. Get Peter here to set up an appointment.
Centurion: Well, I’ve got responsibilities, people to govern, decisions to make. And now I’m a staff member down, one of my best. On serious sick leave. I don’t need this.
Staff member: I don’t need this interruption. I’m sick and now my joints are so painful I can hardly move. What’s happening to me? How much sick leave do I have left? Who will cover my job? If I recover there’ll be so much to catch up on.
It doesn’t take much imagination to anticipate the stress, spiralling, escalating. But that’s not how the story goes. It takes a remarkable turn and just two things changed it – grace and faith.
Jesus: I’ll come and heal him.
Centurion: Don’t bother yourself. I don’t have to see it to believe it. Just give the order and my staffer will be healed. I know about authority, and I know you have the authority to do this.
Imagine believing a doctor can heal you without so much as a consultation!
Jesus commends the centurion for his astonishing faith and the servant was healed immediately. A lot of shortcuts.
It’s easy to become wound up in time constraints and pressures at this time of the year. Sometimes we need to take a big breath and visualise the comforting reality of our place before God.
“I can never forget you! I have written your name on the palms of my hands. Isaiah 49:16