It was such a long road from where I lived out in the wilds with the other outcasts. The road was so full of people, like I had never seen before, crowds of humanity jostling together along the track pushing and shoving, shouting and laughing as they made their way all in the same direction, all trying to get closer to the man up ahead. There were all kinds of people in the crowd, big and small, young and old. There were the sick being carried on rough made stretchers, whilst others hobbled with sticks. Some were being led by others because they could not see and others carried in arms because they could not walk. Everywhere in this sea of humanity there was need. At one point, on the outskirts of the crowd I saw a small group of creatures hiding behind a rock, wearing the ragged cloths that were the recognisable rags of lepers, outcasts of the people, holding their warning bells ready to ring a warning if anyone came too near.
I shuddered, and grabbed the hand of my child to make sure she did not get near them. She yelled excitedly, her eyes wild with the excitement of the occasion. She was not used to outings and in our lonely life she had no friends, and no family visited us now.
There was another time. A time when she was my beautiful black haired baby girl with eyes like dark wells and a dancing smile that filled my heart with joy and delight. That was before the demons came and invaded her young life and demolished our happiness and peace forever.
I never knew then how she would be from one moment to another.
At first, it was only occasionally that they would attack her and send her screaming from our home disappearing for hours until I found her cowering and trembling behind a rock down by the river.
Then, as she grew they came more often, and with more ferocity, throwing her down and smashing her body against the rocks until she sank bleeding and bruised at the bottom of the hill where I would go and bring her home when she was calm enough for me to get near her.
Her Father threw us out after the first attack, recognising it as demonic and wanting nothing to do with such. We moved from one home to another and relied on the kindness of family and friends to help us, but as the attacks increased and the child changed from a lovely little girl to a wild animal who people feared, we were driven further and further out into the places not inhabited by civilized people.
I think I became crazy too. All I had to think about was the survival of myself and my child and like a wild animal myself, I spent my days hiding and protecting her and my nights foraging for food so that we could stay alive. It was on one of these forages that I met the one who told me about Jesus.
I had locked my daughter sleeping in the shack that was our home and made a trip at dawn out on to the hills to gather berries, when I met the woman. She did not know me so she talked happily to me and I in turn showed her where she could get the best berries. I asked her if she had just moved to the area and she told me that she was staying with relatives because she wanted to see the Rabbi who was in the area to thank him for the great kindness he had done for her and her family.
Something in her tone and the brightness of her eyes caught my attention. I had heard nothing of anything for so long and here was someone telling me not just the usual gossip but something that instantly made me alert and interested. I asked her what this teacher had done to cause her to make such a journey in order to see him and what she told me made me go so weak that I had to sit on a rock for a moment to compose myself. She told me that her husband had been restored to her and her children after years of being outcast in the hills around the Gaderenes where he lived the life of a wild animal, because he was possessed by a legion of demons.
She then told me how this Rabbi called Jesus had set her husband free from this army within him and sent the whole lot of them into a herd of pigs which then ran over the cliff and were drowned in the sea below!
He had returned to her, clothed and transformed into the man she used to know and love. Now, she had heard that this Jesus was in the area and she wanted to see Him herself to thank Him.
My mind was spinning. I could not wait to get down the hill back to my child and to putting my plan into action. I had to take her to Him….I had to give her this chance, this only chance to be made whole. If this man had cast out a legion of demons, surely He could manage the one that inhabited my daughter? I must see Him…..for the first time in all these years, I had hope.
So it was, the next day, as dawn broke across the Eastern skies that I had set out with my reluctant confused child, along the dusty roads to Tyre and Sidon. It was a difficult journey with the child dragging behind me grizzling and grumbling at times and shouting loudly at the people around that she did not like the look of. The crowd stood back as we got nearer, holding their own children away from mine as they saw her wild eyes staring and heard the growling sounds that she made. In the end she refused to walk, lying down in the dirt where she would have been trampled on had I not dragged her off the road and left her in the shade of a little scrub that had once been an olive grove. She immediately lay down and slept, exhausted from the early start and the long walk.
In my desperation to get her help I had to just hope she would not wake until I got back and then I pressed on, urgently pushing my way through the crowds until I got to stand in front of Him, the one they call the Master.
My desperation made me bold and as He was not looking at me I called out to Him; ‘Have mercy on me Lord’ and acknowledging the fact that He was a Jew and I a Gentile I added ‘Son of David’…..then I told Him that my daughter needed Him to heal her and set her free.
I do not know what I was expecting, but it certainly was not what happened! I had heard enough of this man to know that these crowds who followed Him did not expect to be ignored by Him. They believed in Him and that if only they could get near Him He would do something for them, all of them. I knew that He had stopped and spoken to a man who lived out in the hills, who was so full of demons nobody could go near him and I had heard other stories too, about Him teaching a new message of love and forgiveness to all. I remembered the lepers I had seen on the road and wondered if even such untouchable souls may dare to believe He would heal them.
But when I spoke, not in a whisper but in a desperate shout, He did not acknowledge me in any way. I turned to His disciples then and told them my need, pleading with them to speak to Him on my behalf. One of them broke off from the others and went over to where Jesus was. I followed Him closely hoping for an introduction, maybe that was the way it worked.
‘Master’ the big guy said, touching Him on the arm, ‘Can’t you sort this woman out she’s driving us mad with her problems and we can’t get rid of her!’
I looked at Him expectantly, ready to repeat my plea, but He did not look at me and instead, speaking to no-one in particular he said that He was only sent to the lost and needy of the Jewish people and therefore wasn’t gong to be bothered with me a Canaanite.
I could not understand why He was speaking this way or why He was treating me so rudely! Was this the man they crowded to hear? Was He the same one who had healed all kinds of suffering for miles around? And this sea of wounded humanity
that I could see stretching along the road and out of sight, had they come so far and risked so much for this kind of attitude?
How could He do this? Did He not know what I was going through, indeed what I had been through for the past ten years of my daughter’s life? If He was anything of the Healer that they said He was He must surely know my need.
Suddenly I did not care what HE knew or didn’t know. I didn’t care what He thought of me or of my people or how much nuisance His disciples thought I was. I only cared about my daughter, I only cared that this was the one hope I may have in all my life to make a difference and get her the healing she surely deserved…….and I knew I must do something, yes anything to get that for her.
I fell down on my knees in front of Him and grabbed His clothing. I felt my anguish running down my face in great hot tears and I choked out the words of my desperation; ‘Lord…..help me’
He looked down at me then. Fixing me with His deep and searching eyes and He said;
‘It is not good to feed the dogs with the children’s bread’
I looked up at Him, I could see that He was engaging with me now. He was not just listening to my story or answering my pleading….no, this was different. This man, this great teacher and healer who people from all over the area flocked to hear, was discussing a point with me. He held my gaze and I did not flinch. His eyes I realised, were warm now and…what was this, a smile playing on His lips? He was bantering with me, sharing a private joke that in its turn would serve to teach those who were listening, another important lesson, if they would understand.
I connected with this guy! In all my life I had not had this intelligent interaction with a man and suddenly my desperation left me and a new hope welled up inside me and drove me on. So, I did not bow my head and capitulate, I felt that would be an insult to this Jewish man who was seemingly enjoying this banter with me a gentile woman.
I smiled at him briefly, just enough for Him to see that I understood and I said boldly; ‘Yes Lord, but even the beggar’s dogs get scraps from under their master’s table!’
There was a slight gasp from behind me as His disciples heard my retort but before anyone took any action Jesus the Master spoke, clearly for all to hear and lifting me up from my knees as He did so, He said;
‘Woman, great is your faith! Let what you ask be done for you’!
‘Thank-you’ I whispered, ‘Thank-you so much’ and then I turned and pushing through the crowds I started to make my way back to where I had left my daughter.
My heart was singing! I knew all would be well….I knew something would happen now and I felt the weight of years lifting as I went on my way.
The crowd was thinning as I saw ahead of me a figure running toward me. Her dark hair was blowing behind her, her head was up and her eyes bright with happiness and laughter. I began to run then, forgetting my weariness. We ran until we fell on each other my daughter and I laughing and crying all at once and holding each other like we would never stop.
And later, when the sun was setting and the crowds had dispersed and gone to their homes we sat together so quietly, watching the rising of the moon and listening to the sounds of the night. Eventually we got up and started to make our way home. And the years of torment and rejection fell away as we started our new life together and from that day for the rest of our lives, if I know nothing else I know this, that this day I met the Saviour of all the World.
Chrystabell 2014 ©