Upside Down, the Right Side Up

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But overhearing what they said, Jesus said to the ruler of the synagogue, “Do not fear, only believe.”  Mark 5:36

I was just thinking as I was reading today’s Biblical account, that here was another day in the life of Jesus.   Which got me thinking some more, that every day is a day in the life of Jesus.  I mean, after all, You were the One that started things as we know it and created everything we know, including life.  So every day and every night is really all part of Your story.  And here we are, privileged to be a part of Your story that You are writing and bringing to life.  Only we can acknowledge You as the Author and Generator and Controller of this story of life, or we can ignore You as such, falsely believing that we are the one’s orchestrating and directing the story.  And this is where faith comes in, or doesn’t.

Well, in this part of Your story, You are where You intend to be one day.  One of the synagogue leaders comes to You.  We’re even told his name.  I wonder why Mark gave us that detail?  I wonder if when people heard or read that, some went back to find this Jairus or to talk to his family members and hear it from his own mouth or theirs?  Maybe they could go back and talk to his daughter.  I just wonder.  But I think there’s another reason and I’ll share that later.

So this synagogue leader, Jairus, comes to You Jesus, and sees You, and falls at Your feet.  I don’t think this was by accident.  I’m pretty sure that Jairus was searching for You intently, and that when he found You, he was so overwhelmed that he fell at Your feet.  I mean, after all, You were his only hope.  I can see him weeping and imploring You to heal his daughter who was so sick at home that he feared she would die.  Without You, he wasn’t expecting her to live.  Who else could he go to?

And You start walking with him.  I can imagine his relief.  But then, this woman interrupts it all and touches the hem of  Your robe.  And You stop.  And I bet Jairus’ heart stopped too.  Because here was his hope and his hope was paying attention to someone else while his daughter was lying at the point of death.  I wonder if his heart was breaking?  I wonder if he was becoming angry or anxious?  I wonder if he thought things like, “Why are You stopping to pay attention to this woman who is not dying when my daughter is at the point of death?  What are You doing?  Do You really understand what’s at stake here?  Do You really care?”

While all this is going on, while questions are probably flooding Jairus’ mind, someone from his house comes and tells Jairus, “Your daughter is dead.  Don’t bother the Teacher any more.”  Think of everything that had probably been going through Jairus’ mind as You, Jesus, had appeared to have been waylaid from Your mission.  I bet time was standing still for Jairus.  His heart was ripping apart.  His world was falling apart and in the middle of it all, You calmly tell him, “Don’t be afraid, only believe.”

Fear motivates a lot of people.  The fear of failure motivates some to succeed or to give up trying.  The fear of people compels some on and holds others back.  Fear of heights drives some people to overcome that fear and others to avoid those situations.  Over and over again in Scriputre God commands His people to not be afraid of all these things and more.  But He does command us to fear one thing.  “You shall fear the Lord thy God, Him shall you serve, and to Him shall you cleave, and swear by His name.”  (Deuteronomy 10:20)

But what You are talking about here, Jesus, is so much more than just being afraid of something.  You are not just telling Jairus, don’t be afraid because your daughter is dead, or because this man has said she is dead, or because things don’t seem to be going right.  It’s not just those things.  Because the word fear, whether “yare” in Hebrew, or “phobeo” in Greek meant more than just that.  Skip Moen shares that the “Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (TWOT) tells us that this word is used in five different senses:  1) the emotion of being afraid, 2) the anticipation of evil without emotion, 3) reverence or awe, 4) religious piety and 5) formal religious worship.”  So there is this part of fearing God that is like the fear we think of.  Because here is this God who created everything and controls it all.  And You can take my life and sustain it or take it away as You please.  And that’s a scary thing.  So You are worthy of my fear, of my trembling.  That is an appropriate response to seeing You for who You are.  We see that in the Bible.

Fear is an important part of our relationship with You, Lord.  Scripture tells us that it is the beginning of wisdom and the beginning of knowledge.  In Proverbs 9:10 it equates this beginning of wisdom through fear of You as the way of knowing and understanding the holy.  In other words, fearing You is the start of knowing and experiencing You.  Why?  Because in the middle of fearing, I come to see the magnitude of Your love and mercy for me, who doesn’t deserve it.  And as great as my fear is for this awesome God who has my life in His hands and ought to destroy me, so much greater is Your love and compassion for me that chooses to pardon me and call me Your own instead.

Which takes me to the other part of fear.  Here You are, the Sovereign God who is to be feared.  And here is maybe the part I miss sometimes.  Part of fearing You is being in awe of You and You alone.  I am not to be in awe of anything but You.  Nothing else deserves my awe.   Noah Webster would say our fear ought to be “mingled with admiration or reverence.”  He would say it ought to be “inspired by something great, or terrific.”  And that something great or terrific is You.  You alone should be everything that inspires me in every situation, whether the situation seems good or bad.

So what was Jairus fearing?  What was inspiring Jairus?  Was Jairus fully inspired by his fear and awe of You, or was he inspired by his fear and awe of what people thought and what he thought he knew?  I mean, here was this man from his home telling him what he “knew” to be true.  “Your daughter is dead.  Hope is gone.  No sense in asking for a miracle any more.  Dead is dead.”  And here You stand, Jesus, Life itself.  And Jairus hears man’s idea.  Then he listens to his own fears.  “My daughter is dead.  Dead means dead.  Everyone else I know who has died, has stayed dead.  Where is my hope?  My hope is gone.”  Or is it?

That’s where You step in, Jesus.  You pull Jairus’ thoughts and focus back to You.  “Jairus, look at Me.  I am the one You need to fear and awe here, not death, not what men say, not what You think.  Entrust it all to Me, all in Me.  Remember and realize who I am.  Look at Me.  Follow Me.  Trust Me.  And watch Me be God in Your life.  Put Your awe in Me and in Me alone.”  And then Jesus, You take Jairus and his wife, Peter, James, and John, and go up to the girl’s room.  And everyone around is weeping because they only see what’s in front of them, not Who is in front of them.  And You ask them, “Why are you making this fuss and weeping?  She’s not dead, only sleeping.”  And the people laugh at You mockingly.  But really, You were the One having the real laugh, because You knew the truth because You are the Truth and the Life.  But their fears were keeping them from seeing it.

But Jairus, his wife, Peter, James, and John, got to see it.  Taking her hand, You said, “Talitha cumi, little girl, I say to you, arise.”   And this girl who was once dead was now alive.  And she wasn’t just barely alive.  She went from completely dead to totally alive.  She got right up and walked.  And what was everyone’s response?  What does that Greek word ekstasis mean?  They were more than beside themselves.  They were mega transported outside of themselves.  See, “the Greek root means, “to remove out of its place”.   It comes from the combined words ek (out of) and stasis (stationary).”  (Skip Moen)  It’s not just that they were wonderfully surprised.  Their whole world was turned upside down with them in it.  Their whole concept of God was turned around.  Whatever was before, ceased to be, and now entered in a new reality.  Talk about being thrown for a loop!

This is the loop that leads one to either praise and rejoice in a mega way, or to fear because your world has been so changed and your belief system has been knocked off it’s foundation.  This is where belief enters or one refuses to believe.  This is what draws people to You, Lord, or turns them away.  This is where they see You for who You are, or cling to their own belief system because You knock us all for such a loop.

So who and what will I place my fear and awe in?  Situation after situation in my life wants to draw my fear and awe to it, but there is no situation no matter how great or terrible that can match Your greatness and terribleness.  My own heart and established ideas want to draw my fear and awe away from You, but they are all faulty.  I want You to continually knock me out of my place and turn me upside down in You.  And make my upside down vision in You right side up.  I want to stop drifting back to fearing other things.  I want to fear You alone.  I want to be in continual awe of You.  I want to continually be praising and thanking You.  I want to keep my eyes and hope in my Mega God, not mini me, or mini man, or mini stuff.  So teach me to forever rely on You so much that You keep me in the right position of fear and awe in You.  I want to stay forever turned upside down in You, which is the only right side up.

 

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