The Eternal Now

“Healing Arts,” by Helen Kagan

“Healing Arts,” by Helen Kagan

“But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.” 2 Peter 3:8

They say that time heals all wounds. That doesn’t feel particularly true for me these days. With the whiplash and emotional hangover of the holidays still lingering, here on the second week of 2019, I almost feel the opposite might be true: time can make you remember old wounds, and how they still kind of hurt. Alongside the joy of Christmas and the hope of the new year can come the familiar ache of that old wound—you know the one. It brings with it a rush of nostalgia and loss—an inexplicable heaviness, a general malaise. We feel the absence of those missing, an irretrievable past, an uncertain future—all of it seemingly brought on by this passage of time, the date turning over, another year come and gone. Time only seems to have made this wound part of the permanent landscape of things within us now. The scar tissue covers all with its great web, but a wound it remains.

There’s this story in the Gospel of Luke where Jesus is surrounded by throngs of people when Jairus, one of the Jewish leaders, pleads with Jesus to follow him to his home where his twelve-year-old daughter lay dying. Jesus agrees and as they were making their way there, he suddenly stops and says, “Who touched me?” I imagine Peter saying something like: “We’re in a huge crowd...literally everyone is touching you.” It turns out a woman who’d been bleeding for twelve years had reached out to grab the hem of his garment, in hopes of being healed. Jesus had felt a healing power leave him and her bleeding had miraculously stopped. Jesus has her explain the situation to everyone there, pausing even longer on the way to Jairus’ daughter.  

I’ve heard this story from Luke many times before (I love any story in the Bible about a woman) but when I came across it again during this my “angsty New Years phase,” I was struck by something new. I never considered how Jairus must have felt waiting for Jesus as he healed the bleeding woman. I imagine him with his arms crossed and eyebrows lifted. (Much like the way I look at Edwin when we are out on an important errand and he runs into a neighbor.) Jairus had finally gotten the help his daughter needed, and Jesus had the audacity to stop and heal someone else.

I see myself in Jairus; impatient for God to hurry up and get to work fixing the problems I deem important. We learn that the girl died during the Lord’s little detour! If this woman had been sick for twelve years couldn’t she have waited a little bit longer for Jesus to beat the clock to save the girl?!  

In this reading of the story, after my own long night with a sick baby (just an ear infection, thank God), every second Jesus puts off Jairus’ daughter seems like an eternity. I start to wonder if Jesus and I are working from the same timeline.

Why wasn’t he rushing to heal her? I can’t name a single instance of Jesus rushing anywhere, ever. Maybe he wasn’t rushed because, unlike us, Jesus is not tethered to ticking clocks. Whether you’re twelve years old or twelve years bleeding, Jesus is on his way and his timing is not ours.

These healings and their order remind me that God’s time has broken into this world, in the person of Jesus. This “eternal now,” —where all can be redeemed, regardless of our human stipulations—is where God meets us, in peace, with grace and healing. It is impossible for my human brain to grasp. What I see as “too late” turns out to be an opportunity for an even greater miracle. At the end of the Gospel story, Jesus does more than just heal Jairus’ daughter; he brings her back to life. It seems that healing is offered to all those who seek it, after all.

But when?

Maybe you’ve been praying for a clean cancer screen, a positive pregnancy test, to find lasting love or to feel like you’ve truly made it. You stand by and watch all your friends get engaged or hear stories of miraculous healing and you’re left praying and waiting. It feels like Jesus is never going to follow you home to the sight of your wound.

Or maybe you feel Jesus is already too late. Your grandmother will never be at Christmas again, never meet your husband or daughter. Your fertile years are gone. The Alzheimer’s has stolen her away. There’s too much damaged, too much lost. It feels like there is no way to make things right, short of resurrection.

This year I am hanging on the truth that Jesus is right on time. In spite of it being hugely uncomfortable, not unfolding as per my Google calendar, I want to seek God in the eternal now. I want to stop rushing. I don’t want to live in a mindset of scarcity. Most of all I want to trust God enough to stop constantly asking to hurry it up. When we seek God’s time, this eternal now, our past is redeemed, our future is open. 

It is not too late.

And yet, please join me as I continue to count the seconds. I believe God is ok with that. In fact, I believe God didn’t want us to be alone in this waiting or this woundedness. The Wounded Healer himself—that was, is and is to come—waits and weeps with us.

So let the maxim be: God heals all God’s time.


Lord, do not tarry...only say the word and I shall be healed.