He entered again into a synagogue; and a man was there whose hand was withered. Mark 3:1
My daily prayer book included a reflection question related to this Scripture passage: What has withered in my spiritual life that needs Jesus’ attention?
Good question. Has my prayer life become stagnant? Am I being open to the Spirit moving in my life? Am I thinking big thoughts, or have I boxed God into a small set of fixed ideas?
I pondered the scene in this reading—Jesus entering the Synagogue, seeing the man with the withered hand and calling him forward. The man steps up and in front of everybody, Jesus shines a spotlight on this man’s deformity. I can feel myself cringe.
Would I want Jesus to call me forward and point out something that has withered in me? I think not.
I like to believe that my deformities are better hidden that this man’s withered hand.
But I know that is not really the truth. I know that Jesus—and most everyone around me—can see what is withered in me. Others can often see more clearly what needs to be healed in me than I can, as they watch my fears and anxieties play out in everyday life.
I need to name those inner parts of me that are withered in order to be healed. Like the man in the scripture, I need to step forward and present what has withered inside me and ask for healing.
“Stretch out your hand,” Jesus tells the man in the Synagogue. I can see it—wholeness restored.
And for me? What needs to be stretched out? To be restored to wholeness?
I have been told that I am formidable, and I know people see me as being strong. And I am—or can be. But I can also be fragile and vulnerable.
Breaking through the tough shell—through my formidability—and being able to live in vulnerability is where my wholeness is found. It is that place that Jesus invites me to again and again, to touch my weakness and vulnerability.
In Wild Geese, Mary Oliver writes:
You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves….
I resonate with the invitation to that kind of openness and honesty. Not trying so hard to impress—or at least not to disappoint—but accepting what is, who I am, and loving what I love.
Healing and wholeness are found in that space, that place where I can recognize what is withered in me, where I can acknowledge my limitations and accept weakness and welcome healing.
And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may dwell in me. 2 Corinthians 12:9