Pressing Through: Fire and Form, Spirit-Led Worship
‘But Jesus said, ‘Someone touched me; I know that power has gone out from me.’ Then the woman, seeing that she could not go unnoticed, came trembling and fell at his feet.” (Luke 8:46-47 NIV)
She had been pressing through for more than twelve years–pressing through her pain, the relentless outflow of her life’s blood, the slow drain of her resources, and now this crowd. She had heard of Jesus, the one Who did wonders and miracles, and she decided that He was the one she needed to reach for her healing. In her weakness she only caught fleeting glimpses of Him through the multitude. So frail was she from twelve years of physical decline that her slight form was tossed back and forth by the jostling crowd like driftwood in the surf. But she was making progress. Each small glimpse of Jesus seemed to bring her a little closer.
Then He began moving away from her through the crowd, and now it seemed hopeless that she would ever reach Him. Yet somehow she was getting closer. She had no strength left to spend in wondering how, but this small, private miracle helped her focus her remaining energy on reaching Him. She had to press through.
Stretched Out Hand
Perhaps the crowd slowed Jesus to some extent. Everyone was pressing, reaching, calling for Him. From snatches of speech around her that managed to penetrate her determined mind, she learned that a synagogue leader named Jairus had asked Jesus to come to his house and touch his little girl, who was at the point of death.
This news slowed the woman a bit as she thought that perhaps she should not delay Jesus. Her life was spent, worthless, gone to the doctors and to the illness. The little girl had her whole life ahead of her, if Jesus could make it through the crowd in time. What right did a sick woman have to delay Him? The daughter of a ruler of the synagogue must surely have priority. The woman was anonymous, unnoticed by anyone, written off as already dead by her family, forgotten by friends, and of no interest to physicians who could not help her and for whom she had no funds. Weariness overcame her. She stopped for a moment, but a large man behind her seemed to lift her and push her onward, a friendly wave on the hostile sea.
She opened her eyes and there was Jesus, right before her! He was facing the other way, but his strong back seemed to beckon her hand. Could she reach Him? She stretched–a little more, once more–and her hand touched His cloak.
Something we might call electricity but something for which she had no name, ran through her outstretched arm and into her frail body. As the virtue, the power of the purity of Jesus flowed through her, the disease had no choice but flee her ravaged frame. New strength rushed in to take the place of the retreating illness. The woman began to straighten up. Muscles long atrophied through disuse began to strengthen. Bones began to shift into place, pulled and held by renewed ligaments. Her breathing began to deepen, and vital oxygen began to seek out the musty corners of her being. Fresh blood began to course through her with a life-giving flood of health.
‘Who touched me?” Jesus asked. Amid the throng pressing Him for a multitude of reasons, He had felt the single desperate touch of faith. She fell at His feet and told her story. Those who had never noticed her before saw a whole woman before them.
‘Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering” (Mark 5:34 NIV)
Pressing Through Our Flesh
Pressing through–we all must do it to touch the Savior. This is what a worship service is—a time of pressing through to touch Jesus. This is our ministry as worship leaders: to call the people to a focus on Jesus, to press through the distractions of life, to touch Jesus with our worship. We can do this best in the public place when we have done it regularly in the Secret Place of private worship.
We must press through our priorities. Sometimes our minds are crowded with conflicting drives and ambitions. We want to serve the Lord, but we also serve music, a demanding task master. We are artists and we serve our various crafts. We have bosses, and they have priorities that may or may not match our own. Our calendars and our daily agendas are as choked as the public square on the day the sick woman pressed through to Jesus. But she did it. She pressed through. We must prioritize our glimpses of Jesus—our daily worship of Him. We must press through our crowded calendars and our saturated schedules to touch Him. He is the only one Who can heal us, release us from the fruitless, endless errands life has sent us on, and give us true strength of purpose, true focus of mission.
We must press through the people. The crowd between us and Jesus is filled with people who have their own needs. We are not their interest. We are in the crowd they must press through. Sometimes they can discourage us. Their words can weaken us and cause us to think about giving up. Once in a while the Lord will send someone bigger and stronger to catch us at these weak moments, to lift us up and carry us along for a bit. They often deposit us within reach of the Savior. They have helped us press through.
We must press through our pain. The illnesses and injuries we have experienced can loom between us and the Savior. We must press through. Several times each week I see a woman in our neighborhood on her painful, therapeutic walk: twisted legs, straight aluminum crutches, and a slow, tortured process down the sidewalk. But she is pressing through. So must I. I can press through that betrayal. I can recover from that disappointment. I can walk again, perhaps slower than before, but I can walk again. Jesus is in my sights, and I must get to Him.
With or without the help of others, we must touch Him. We must reach out through thanksgiving and praise. We must touch His resurrection robe with our worship and adoration. He will know it when we touch Him. He still hears the single desperate cry. When we love Him with heart, soul, mind, and strength, He notices! We will know it, too. His virtue flows through us as a healing stream. If we press through and touch Him in faith, we will hear Him call us by name and say, ‘Your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be free!”
Dr. Steve Phifer received a Doctorate in Worship Studies from the Robert E. Webber Institute for Worship Studies. He has taught at Valley Forge University and Southeastern Assemblies of God University. For many years he was the Worship Pastor at Word of Life Church in Alexandria, VA.
More of Dr. Phifer’s materials can be found at stevephifer.com.