The Value Of Incidentals
“People brought all their sick to him 36 and begged him to let the sick just touch the edge of his cloak, and all who touched it were healed.” Matthew 14:35b-36
“But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. 1 Corinthians 1:27-29
My dad was a doctor, a surgeon who followed Jesus. In the early 1950’s he had the opportunity to sit with a young native Peruvian girl who had come from the jungles of the Amazon to the United States with a missionary named Rachel Saint. Rachel Saint was to speak at a missionary banquet that my father was invited to attend. The young girl had accompanied her to the evening event. At the hotel where they were staying and the event was being held this young Peruvian girl had come down with some sort of infection and was suffering from a very sore throat.
My father was approached to see if he might help this young girl. He did not have any medical equipment with him but, nonetheless, he agreed to take a look at her. He was led to her room where she was lying down with a fever and a sore throat. In that moment, knowing that he didn’t have available a vast array of options, he prayed that the Lord would help this girl and that he would have wisdom as to how to proceed. He inadvertently reached in his suit coat pocket and felt one small aspirin pill, which he didn’t know he had. He gave it to the girl and told her just to let it dissolve in her mouth. In a short time, her pain was relieved and her fever began to go down.
At that moment my father saw an opportunity to hear her Christian testimony and pray with her as a confirmation of her conversion experience. That evening my father witnessed a young girl from an unreached people group testify to her desire to follow Jesus Christ. My dad became a channel for the care and compassion of Jesus to touch this young believer. And then the evening event resumed. It was a momentary encounter resulting in the experience of healing love and kingdom welcome found in Jesus.
I am always amazed by that story and how God was able to bring about so much with so little human resources. When my dad related this story to me, he would often point out the miracle manifested in the incidental, small and ever so brief encounter of that moment. God had provided, and my father was an eager and available witness to the encounter Jesus had with this young girl in that seemingly insignificant and incidental time.
I tend to imagine that God is more often working in the spectacular moments of life than in the less conspicuous times. Yet, it seems that the overlooked and incidental moments are often the venue God chooses to display His works. If I’m only attuned to things that are spectacular I may have a tendency to miss the presence of Jesus in the mundane and ordinary encounters.
When Jesus landed in the region of Gennesaret, the people recognized Him and sent word to the surrounding area of His arrival. As a result they brought to Him all their sick and begged for the opportunity just to touch the fringe of His cloak. Their faith was large enough to appreciate even limited contact with Jesus, and all who touched His cloak were healed. They recognized, came to, and believed in Jesus to heal. Whatever contact, as incidental as it might seem, would be enough.
My father, when asked to see the Peruvian girl did not decline because of his limited resources. He trusted that the Lord in that moment would provide. A chance encounter, an overlooked aspirin pill, an invitation all bathed in prayer provided a context to witness Jesus at work in the incidental moment.
I am realizing how much there is to witness of Jesus, His care, provision and healing, in the incidental and often unexpected circumstances of life. They are the places where the opportunity of contact with even something as mundane and dusty as His cloak can be transformational.
Today in my life and times Jesus comes cloaked in various ways, most often in the lives of those He inhabits as their Lord. If I pay attention I can encounter Him and experience His care manifested through their lives. My father was just one more manifestation of the cloak of Jesus made available in the moment for someone to reach out and touch. He was not aware of what that evening encounter would bring about, but my father made himself available to extend the love and grace of Jesus through his life. His role was to be just the cloak and allow Jesus to work through him.
I pray that in my life I would not necessarily look at what I consider to be small, insignificant and incidental moments as less important. Instead, my desire is to remain attuned to the presence of Jesus and His desire to work in and through me in those moments, even as He would His cloak. My hope is that each follower of Jesus would know what it means to be clothed with His cloak and extend into this world His love, grace and salvation to all we encounter. It is enough to know that with Jesus, any kind of contact is significant.