I sat on my sister’s back patio with my book, Arms Open Wide, in my hands. I was prayerfully, soberly seeking God’s guidance as to which chapter to read the next day when I spent time with some women who had been rescued out of sex trafficking. My heart had been so burdened for these young women, and I wanted to give what little I had to them, but once the moment came I felt incredibly inadequate to the task.
I opened my book to the list of contents and almost immediately God directed me to His choice for them- “The Untouchable One”, the story of the woman in Luke 8, who had been subject to uncontrolled bleeding for twelve long years. It was an illness that would have been incredibly difficult to bear under any circumstances but in her culture, it also rendered her unclean.
The next morning, I rose long before the sunrise, plugged the address into my GPS and pointed my heart and Jeep toward all that God had waiting for me that day. Hours later, I turned off the Interstate and down a series of country roads, each more remote and less well maintained than the last.The final dirt road before me that stretched into the woods was muddy and scarred by deep ruts.
Just when I began to wonder if my GPS had played a cruel trick on me, I came to a property secured by a large gate. These girls, you see, need to be hidden, protected…
When the moment came for me to read, I gave them a little bit of background on my book and then opened it to the story of The Untouchable One and began to read.
By the window she waits. Day after day, month after month, year after long year, she sits like a specter, invisible to the throngs of life passing by in the busy street just on the other side of her wall. She listens and watches, living vicariously through neighbors, relatives, and old friends who, one by one, have all but forgotten her completely.
She is the most hopeless of the hopeless. Impure. Unclean. Most certainly cursed by God for some secret sin.
She is condemned. She is the untouchable one.
Sherri Gragg, Arms Open Wide, The Untouchable One
There is so much that is remarkable about this story found in Luke 8:40-48- the woman’s heartbreaking situation, her profound faith, the risk she takes in acting on that faith so that she might be healed, but my favorite moment in the narrative is when the healing is over. If you aren’t familiar with the story, Jesus knows immediately that power has gone from Him and stops everything to find out who was healed.
She is terrified. She is unclean and has broken all of the laws surrounding her station in pursuit of healing. She has no reason to expect anything other than condemnation from the Rabbi she just defiled.
Instead, Jesus speaks to her with outrageous gentleness and acceptance. Listen to what He says-
“Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace.” Luke 8:48
He credits her faith for the healing. He sends her forth in peace, not condemnation.
He calls her daughter!
As I began reading the prayer at the end of The Untouchable One to the young women before me that day, I understood why God had chosen this particular message for them.
What about you? Do you need to know God receives you today no matter what? Do you need to hear Him call you “daughter” or “son”? If so, follow the example of the untouchable one. Run after Him with abandon. You will find that His arms are forever open wide.
The Prayer from The Untouchable One
Thank you for seeing me in my need, inviting me to come to You, and waiting for me with arms open wide. Where others see scandal, You see my sorrow. When others have forgotten me, You remember me, and You know my grief. Even when my shame compels me to hide and fear cripples me, You stand immovable, ready to make me whole.
Grant me the faith to run after you with abandon, counting all else as loss. May my most desperate moments be the times when I discover You anew to be my Tender Savior, Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God.
Arms Open Wide, published by Thomas Nelson/HarperCollins Christian, is available at retailers worldwide including Barnes and Noble, Amazon, Lifeway, and Christianbook.com