Talitha Cumi, “Little Girl, Arise”

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“Then He took the child by the hand, and said to her, “Talitha, cumi,” which is translated, “Little girl, I say to you, arise” (Mark 5:41, NKJV).

His words felt far off. I could hear His tender, insistent whisper but I scarce believed it was real. I had accepted my fate. The doctors had given up and I had seen the hope go out of my own mother’s eyes as well. My father had run off to find the Miracle Worker but I knew that he simply could not accept defeat. He could not accept that his best attempts to save his little girl had failed.

Yet still, I heard Him calling me, “Talitha cumi…little girl, arise. I am not finished with you yet. You are mine and I will heal you this day. Talitha cumi.”

Still, I resisted. I had been in pain for so long. I welcomed the release that death promised. I had no desire to be taken from the hands of death now if only to be handed back to the sickness that had ruled my young life thus far. Twelve years doesn’t seem like a long time but when all you have known in twelve years is pain and illness, twelve years seems like an eternity. Could I trust the voice that called me back now? Was the Miracle Working Teacher really as good as my father believed?

As He continued to call my name I could feel the life surging back into my veins. But it was different. I had been born weak. Weakness was all I had ever known. But this felt different. It felt strong.

I looked up into the face that belonged to the tender, insistent voice, and His eyes too beckoned me: “talitha cumi,” He whispered insistently one last time, and I decided to obey Him. If there was a chance this Teacher was who my father believed He was, why not give it a chance?

I shifted my body to the side of the cot I laid on, swung my legs over the edge, and onto the ground. I heard my mother gasp. I looked straight ahead and right into the weeping eyes of my father.

I rose to my feet, my meager five foot frame stretching to its’ full height. I half expected to buckle to the ground as I had done so many times before but the strength I had felt from the words of Jesus remained. I looked for Jesus now, but He was gone. He had spoken life into my lifeless body and left before I could even thank Him. I wondered if it would last, if the life I felt now would continue. Oh well. All I could do was hope, and take my next step. 

—-Based out of the story in Mark 5 of Jesus raising Jairus’ daughter from the dead.

I’ve always loved the stories in Scripture of Jesus speaking to women. He came to them where they were, He spoke tenderly to them, He forgave them, He healed them, and He empowered them to new life.

One of my favorites is the story of Jarius’ twelve year old daughter being raised from the dead. In a hopeless situation, sweet Jesus came in His incredible power and tender mercy. He responded to faith – Jairus’ deep faith that knew who Jesus was and against all odds chose to believe that He would show up for His daughter.

my story – – – – – – –

In my early teens this story and those two words, “talitha cumi,” took hold of me. Jesus spoke them to my heart as clearly and tenderly as Jarius’ daughter must have heard them that day.

Over the years they have become a sort of anthem of mine, a high place to stand where Jesus lifts me “when my heart is overwhelmed…the rock that is higher than I (Psalm 61:2, NKJV).

A few months ago I had the words “talitha cumi” tattooed on my left inner-arm                       as a permanent reminder and testimony to the incredible power Jesus has over                         death and the abundant life He longs for us to live now.

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I wanted this reminder on my arm because I do not live this way. I’m sure I’m not alone. We do not live as though “the Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in [us] (Romans 8:11, NKJV). We live as though we are still cursed, and it sits on our hearts like a chain and holds us down from the life that Jesus died to set us free, laughing and singing, into.

My inadequacy in challenging you with this is so blatant and yet, Jesus fills that weakness and is glorified all the more. Isn’t that the beauty of it? The very nature of divine calling is that it is beyond our comprehension or ability to complete apart from the Holy Spirit inside us. We are being called to life by a Savior who by His very nature “is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think” (Ephesians 3:20, NKJV).

Jesus, the Feminist – – – – – – –

The way Jesus interacted with women in the New Testament was shocking. In a culture where women were considered to be barely worth feeding, let alone talking to, Jesus went out of His way to talk with women who were considered the lowest of the low. He spoke to the Samaritan woman (John 4), the woman with an issue of blood (Luke 8:43-48), a twelve year old girl. It was women who were the first to see Jesus when He rose from the dead. The intentional love, care, and respect Jesus showed women has left us no room to wonder what His heart is towards us, His daughters.

We see this radical celebration of womanhood in the Old Testament as well. God used the Jewish woman Esther to save her people. He used Ruth, a Moabite woman, to carry on the line of His Messiah. Jesus was not kidding around in His declaration of a new approach to what it means to be female.

Read these stories. Read them until you’ve memorized them and the truth that they carry sinks into your bones. Listen to the call of Jesus on our lives as His daughters and as mighty queens of the Kingdom. Meditate on the stories of these women who God has shown Himself to in radical ways (Esther, Ruth, Mary Magdelene, Samaritan woman, etc), and then keep reading! Read biographies of mighty women of God who have come before us (Gladys Aylward, Corrie Ten Boom, Elizabeth Elliot, etc.).

Jesus just might speak to you through these stories. I don’t claim for a minute to understand fully what it means to be a woman of God, but I know that the very same Jesus who has put resurrection power in our veins has made us Woman for a reason. He longs for us to follow Him into His tender love that will show us all that it means and more.

“Little girl, arise. You’ve been set free. I’ve paid the price, I’ve split the sea, I’ve rescued you from the slavery you were bound under. All your fears and insecurities and doubts are drowned in my perfect love that I lavish on you every day if you were only to take a moment to notice. I did not raise you from the dead for you to live in bondage any longer. So arise and claim the title you’ve been given. Declare it over every scheme of the devil. Arise.”

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