I have three favorite Bible stories. Each one is very real and personal in my own life. One of them is found in Mark 5 in the New Testament. Jesus responds to a desperate father begging Him to heal his very sick daughter. When Jesus arrives on the scene, it’s too late. Too much has happened, and the girl is dead. She is too far gone. Or so they thought. Jesus tells them not to be afraid but to just believe. And then He reaches down to the girl and says, “Talitha koum.” It means, “Little girl, get up.” Or “Rise, little girl.” In that moment, she comes back from death and is fully alive. With so many epic and grandiose stories in the Bible, why is this little story hidden in the book of Mark one of my favorites? What is the significance, aside from being one of the many famous miracles Jesus performed during His time here on earth? It has deep meaning for me, because many times in my life, I have been that little girl. She is me. Here are just 3 of those times… there would be far too much to write if I shared every one of them with you, so here are the 3 most significant…
16 years ago, I was a young adult far from home. I had run away… 950 miles from home to be exact. I took off with my little car and a suitcase. I was 19, so technically I wasn’t a minor which means in the eyes of the law, I had only “relocated.” But in my heart, I was a runaway. I’d fallen into such a deep depression that I was having suicidal thoughts. My world was just a crumpled heap of hurt, loss, and a series of really bad decisions. I couldn’t see my life ever getting better. I couldn’t see beyond the abusive relationship I was in. I couldn’t see past the chasm I had dug with my own hands between me and my family. I couldn’t see any happiness ever again for me in the future. I thought about how I hoped my life would end. I didn’t feel like God wanted me or loved me at all. One evening a friend drove me to a church 90 minutes away to hear an evangelist. I don’t even remember who he was or much of what he said. All I know is that he spoke about depression and the power of God to heal. I sat in my seat and felt two forces literally pulling on either side of me. I’ve never physically felt a spiritual battle like that in my life. But it was more powerful than I am capable of describing. The speaker asked if anyone needed to be healed from the bondage of depression, and I felt one arm holding me down in my seat and one arm pulling on me to stand up. I thought I was going to break in two. I don’t even know what was going on around me. Then in one breathless moment, both arms let go and the voice of God reached into my soul and simply said, “Rise, little girl.” I stood up and began a journey to healing and new life. It set off a chain of events for me to go home, make things right with my family, reboot my life, meet my husband, and to begin to see with new eyes how amazing life can be even in the messes. After that moment I was never again suicidal and for the most part, I spend my days finding the beauty in this world and finding the good in all things.
6 years ago, I found myself standing lifeless by my front window after making one of the biggest mistakes of my entire life. I wanted so badly to run and disappear from the whole world… To go hide in a cave somewhere. I felt dead inside. Such an amazing and precious life God had given me, and I had thrown it like a crystal vase against the wall and stood staring at a million shards of what was once a thing of beauty. I was so certain that this life was over and that I would just have to resign myself to my fate… An empty existence… Living out the rest of my days with nothing but regret. No purpose, no beauty, no real happiness… I would live, but life would be no longer be a thing of joy. The mess and brokenness seemed too much to even hope to be repaired. But I underestimated the God of the universe. He isn’t Bob The Builder who brandishes his wrench and asks, “Can We Fix It?!!” He is the ultimate healer and restorer of broken things, and He doesn’t just duct tape it back together in an ugly half-functioning sort of way. He restores shattered vases like mine into something BETTER and more lovely than it was before. As I was staring out the window in somewhat of a catatonic state for several hours, I felt trapped in my own mind. I couldn’t move forward… I didn’t know how. I couldn’t even make myself do a simple thing like walking away from the window like my husband was asking me to. I just stared out the window in despair and wished to be a little girl again… A little child who was happy and carefree… Before life and adulthood had complicated everything. If only I could be little again. And then a voice whispered to me… “Rise, little girl. It’s not going to be easy, and it’s not going to be quick. But come with me… it will be worth it, you’ll see.” I took a step away from the window, and that moment sparked a chain of events that looked very much like this video….
Almost 2 years ago I died. Very literally. I had a sudden death event caused by an undiagnosed heart rhythm disorder. My heart misfired, got out of sync, and suddenly stopped. I was dead for somewhere around 6 minutes on the floor of our house, and that’s how my husband found me when he came home from work. The paramedics arrived and weren’t sure if they could bring me back. They used the defibrillator paddles, and I believe in that moment, the God of all life breathed into me and spoke, “Talitha koum.” They got my heart started again and rushed me to the hospital. Nobody in the medical community believes I should have survived. And even in surviving, I should have ended up with a significant amount of brain damage. But I woke up 2 days later much like the little girl in Mark 5… perfectly healthy with no damage. They have all declared a miracle, and my heart doctor tells my story to others every chance he gets as a witness to the power of God. I truly believe that God used a physical event in my life to paint a picture to me of what He has been doing in my spiritual life over and over and over again, because of His great love and because He has plans for me that exceed my own vision. One day, He will say to me, “Rise, little girl,” and I will open my eyes to eternity and be able to finally see the vision completed and ALL of the beauty that He was weaving through every difficulty.
I believe the theme of my life has been, “Talitha koum.” I have been knocked down. I have been at the bottom of the worst pits. I have been in despair. I have been in depression. I have faced many difficult losses. I have made many devastating choices and mistakes. I have been dead spiritually and physically. But through all of it, God does not let go of me. He continues to tell me, “Rise.” He is making something out of my life, and He will not be thwarted by anything on this earth… Not my heartbreaks, not my mistakes, not my despair, not my circumstances, not even my death. Over and over, He says to me, “Get up, I’m not done.” Over and over again, He restores. It’s never easy or quick. Recovery, healing, restoration… it all takes time. And it requires my cooperation with Him. Some days healing has seemed too difficult and running from it seemed like an easier course of action, but it has been worth it!
Are you depressed? Do you feel like your life is a shattered vase that is beyond repair? Do you feel too far gone? Do you feel alone and suicidal? Do you think there is nothing beautiful for you over the horizon? Do you feel trapped and frozen… Unable to move forward? Have you lost hope? Do you think God does not love you, or care about you, or notice you? Have you messed up so bad that you’ve resigned yourself to a fate of living out your days in a dull and lifeless existence? I have been where you are right this minute. I have been in your shoes. Maybe different circumstances and scenarios led us to these places, but I know this place where you are. And I can tell you with complete certainty, God is there with you. Hear Him whisper to you, “Rise.”
He is calling to you, “Rise, and live again.”
God is not done. It doesn’t matter what you THINK you see (or don’t see) for your future. The reality is that He can change your future into something breathtaking and overflowing with purpose. When He reaches out His hand and whispers for you to rise up, your life will begin to change if you will just reach up and take hold of Him.
Whether you have never allowed God into your life before, or whether you’ve been a Christian for years and find yourself in a pit… it doesn’t matter. Rise, little child. It’s time to live again.