Today’s post is written by TJ. Now, you’ll see why I love her so much. Thanks, TJ!
Mark 1:29 – 31 As soon as they left the synagogue, they went with James and John to the home of Simon and Andrew. Simon’s mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they told Jesus about her. So he went to her, took her hand and helped her up. The fever left her and she began to wait on them.
Even with dusk approaching, sunlight streams into the open windows of Mama’s room. The merciless heat shrouds me like a hot, damp blanket. Mama’s fatigued, shallow breathing fills the room, her lungs meekly grasping for air. Limp and thin, her body occupies a straight, unmoving lump under the pile of blankets and offers no hint of recovery. I examine her gentle face which appears impossibly aged from the course of just one week: rosy cheeks now gray and hollow and sunken, with dark circles encasing her once-bright eyes.
Where did this fever come from? With each day it grows more and more tenacious for claiming Mama’s life. Was it someone she spoke with at market? Someone’s hand she took in a warm embrace who unknowingly passed on this disease?
I glance out the window upon hearing my husband’s voice in the distance. Mingled with the far-away cry of a child and the bustle of marketplace shoppers, I hear Simon’s excited, boisterous talk above the others. Thank God he’s home. He and Andrew have no idea how bad Mama is, how this terrible, relentless fever racks her body. Wringing water from the rag for a thousandth time, I place the wet towel across Mama’s forehead and lean to kiss her before running to the door.
Wait, who are all these men? I can make out John and James, and of course there’s Andrew, but who is this other man?
It must be Jesus.
Well, this is not the time. Not the time to prepare a meal and entertain Simon’s new friend. I have no bread prepared, and barely enough water for cleaning hands and feet. Our home is a mess. Every ounce of my energy is reserved for fighting Mama’s relentless fever.
I don’t know what to think about Jesus, anyway. He asked Simon to give up his life’s work of fishing – and Simon said yes! How does my husband expect his and Andrew’s new “work” of walking from town to town with Jesus to put bread on the table? People in town are starting to talk – even my friends question Simon’s loyalty to this strange man.
As they approach, my gratitude and relief for Simon’s presence overcome my frustration with his days-long absence. I run to meet him on the road.
“Simon, come quick! It’s Mama!”
He reaches to embrace me, but sees my distress and instead races toward the house. Andrew’s face flushes with concern, and James and John and the stranger hurry close behind.
Back in Mama’s room, Simon asks his friend Jesus for help. Jesus?! To help my Mama? I didn’t ask for this man! Without hesitating, Jesus goes to the bedside and takes hold of Mama’s hand. He folds his dusty, dirt-caked hands over Mama’s limp palms, bending over the bed and leaning in close to her face. I watch him watching her, and something in me relaxes.
This Jesus has gentle eyes. Gentle eyes and strong hands that seem to embrace Mama with tenderness and authority all mixed together. Mama’s eyes flutter open, the first time all day. She gazes at Jesus and smiles a faint smile, and he lifts her to sitting. Before I can utter a word, Jesus helps Mama out from under the stagnant covers and helps her stand on the hard dirt floor. Her eyes are twinkling, and I rush through the men to hold her. I press my face to hers. Gone is the burning heat of fever, replaced with the warmth of restored health.
I glance across the room to Jesus, now leaning against the doorway, this mysterious man who in one touch healed Mama. Who is this man? Simon trusts him, says he’s a man of God and has come to bring hope to the brokenhearted and freedom to prisoners; to restore sight to the blind and make the lame walk and preach good news to the poor. The people in our town whisper all kinds of things. But looking again into those gentle eyes, I realize that I have already begun to trust this man called Jesus.
Dear Father, I know you hold in your hands the power to heal, to restore, to set free. I trust you.