Telling stories

Taking the child by the hand, He said to her, “Talitha kum!” (which translated means, “Little girl, I say to you, get up!”). ~ Mark 5:41

Stories. In my house, we tell stories. My children love to hear stories of when they were young, when my wife and I were young, of brothers and sisters and relatives, of birthdays and holidays.

Many stories we’ve told before, and sometimes I wonder if I actually have any stories left to tell. But it never really seems to matter because they love to hear them over and over again, and as we all grow older there will be new ones to share.

There’s power in a story. It’s more than just history. It’s a chance to take a person back to a moment in time when something happened that left an indelible mark upon your heart. Some stories are sad, some funny, some a joy to tell again and again. And some will change your life if you let them.

One story we tell in my house has changed all of our lives. It’s the story of my second oldest daughter. About a year or so after she was born, we began to notice that every time we took her picture, she’d turn her head and squint an eye.

It was funny at first. “Why does she do that?” we asked ourselves. Then it became more pronounced, and it was soon evident that instead of doing it for laughs, she clearly was having trouble focusing on the photographer or anything else for that matter.

Glasses at the age of two, not the end of the world. But before long, we knew the glasses weren’t enough. Learning to read, she was skipping words as if they weren’t even present on the page. Something else was happening.

Off to a specialist, this time some 80 miles away, to find out that my daughter’s right eye would never focus properly, caused by some fancy medical condition. As as result, the left eye was overcompensating, allowing the brain to create a vicious cycle of placing more emphasis on the good eye while slowly shutting off the bad eye. In the end, the doctor said my daughter would be totally blind in the right eye.

But there was a sliver of hope. Through vision therapy, we might stave off that blindness by trying to teach the right eye how to see again. For the next year or so, my daughter not only wore glasses, she also wore a patch over her good eye to strengthen the bad one.

The poor girl would walk around bumping into walls because she couldn’t see, as well as suffer headaches, and this image of her — glasses and patch — began to define who she was and what she was capable of accomplishing. The pity from people who would stare and ask questions was almost worse than the medical condition.

It soon became clear that even the vision therapy was not working, and while we had prayed for healing, I think we had placed our faith in the therapy as much as the Lord. But no longer. We knew we were helpless and so were the doctors.

So we invited our church elders to come to the house one night and pray over our daughter just as James dictates in chapter 5 of his epistle. We talked, we prayed, we ate cake and drank coffee. Together, we asked the Lord to heal our daughter of this impending blindness, to return her gift of sight. Five years old at this point, my daughter understood what was happening to her, and why these men were here placing oil on her forehead, asking the Lord for a miracle.

I knew when they left that night that God had the power to do what no man could do: heal my daughter. And so we waited until the next doctor’s appointment, wondering what would happen.

That day came, and at work I sat tight, anticipating my wife’s call. When she did call, it was only through a mix of tears and excitement that I gathered that my daughter had been healed. “And the doctor kept saying, ‘This is not what should have happened.’” Sometimes you just have to give it to God.

My daughter still wears glasses, but only for the same reasons the rest of us do. There’s no longer any threat of blindness, no more headaches and no more walking into walls. The patches became pirate props, and we thank the Lord as a family for the healing He bestowed upon my daughter.

I now think of Jairus when I remember how that moment came when I knew there was nothing else that I or any other doctor could do to restore my daughter’s sight. Here’s a man whose 12-year-old daughter is dying! As a synagogue ruler, Jairus has enough wealth to call upon the doctors, and we know that whatever is making his daughter sick, they cannot fix it.

So instead of staying by her side in her last moments — because the end is very, very near here — he knows Jesus is in town, and maybe, just maybe, Jesus, this man he’s heard about but probably never met, maybe this Jesus, out of the goodness of his heart, will restore his daughter to health.

“One of the synagogue officials named Jairus came up, and on seeing Him, fell at His feet and implored Him earnestly, saying, ‘My little daughter is at the point of death; please come and lay Your hands on her, so that she will get well and live.’” (Mark 5:22-23).

But Jesus is delayed, taking the time to heal another woman along the way so that before they even arrive at Jairus’ house, servants have come to tell him that his little girl is already dead.

Ever been in a car crash before? Those seconds before the crash actually occurs, time seems to slow down so that the entire moment appears to take minutes. I can imagine Jairus’ mind slowing down such as this, going over every detail of his walk to find Jesus, thinking that if He hadn’t stopped to heal this other woman, maybe there would have been enough time, or maybe, just maybe the entire idea had been foolish from the start, maybe Jairus should have stayed by his daughter’s side for her final moments.

Jesus knows how special this girl is. He knows her purpose is more than this moment. He knows that He will raise her from the dead (a precursor of the miracle of his own resurrection yet to come) and that Jairus and his family will tell the story of her healing over and over and over again, reminding them and others of how good God is.

“You don’t remember,” Jairus tells his daughter now older than 12. “He took you by the hand and said ‘talitha koum’ and you got up as if you had never been sick at all!”

Imagine, being the little girl and hearing this time and time again about how God loved you so much that He took the time to heal you. Jairus tells her, “And I thought we would never get here because along the way, He stopped to heal another woman! Can you believe it?!”

Jairus and his family would remember every time he told the story of how God healed his very sick daughter that He never forgets us, that He can heal, and that we only need to have faith. My family remembers the same every time we tell the story of my daughter’s nearly blind eye. I’ve watched and witnessed my own faith continue to grow each time I retell this story, and I’ve seen the impact it has had on each of my children.

We don’t know how Jairus’ daughter responded but I have a hard time believing it was any different.

And what of the woman Jesus healed along the way? Bleeding for nearly a decade only to spend all her money upon doctors who couldn’t help her. “If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed!” she thought. And we know that immediately, her bleeding stopped.

“And then he wanted to know who had touched him, and I was so scared!” she might have told her family or friends, even complete strangers. “‘Go in peace’ He said to me, and I’ve never felt more peace than that day.” Those who heard might have increased in faith or wondered what Christ could do for them in their lives if He had taken the time to heal this lowly woman.

Perhaps you don’t have a story of healing that you can share with your daughters, but I’m sure there has been a time in your life when you’ve looked at your daughter (any member of your family for that matter) and asked God to do something that you knew only He could do.

Maybe there’s a time that God worked a miracle (big or small) in your life so that you know without His intervention, the outcome would have been much different.

It’s these moments that we need to share with our daughters to show them how God is physically present in this world, how He cares more for us than we can ever care for Him. These stories help us to know God, to trust God and to have faith in Him.

We must share these stories with our daughters so that they understand that even before they really knew God, God really knew and loved them and us! They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but a moment with God is certainly worth a story.

RaisingOurDaughtersCover copy

Today’s piece was taken from Christopher’s book “Raising Daughters.” It is a companion piece to his other book “Raising Sons.” While written to dads, these books make a great family read, complete with Bible readings, study questions and prayerful reflection. From now until Father’s Day, both are available at a discount price by clicking here.

2 thoughts on “Telling stories

  1. This story teared me! love the testimony! Keep sharing it to others. Such an amazing way to tell how God saves!

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