Webster defines dependability as, “the quality of being trustworthy and reliable.” In other words, “coming through” on what you say you will do. This quality is nothing on its own but takes its importance from another word: “relationship.” Without relationship, does it matter if you show up? If it doesn’t mean anything to someone, does it matter if you keep your word or not? See what I mean? Relationship is the context that gives dependability meaning.
So then comes the next question. What are people depending on us for beyond the obvious category of keeping our word?
This morning when reading the story of the woman with the issue of blood, this phrase caught my attention: “She slipped in behind him and touched him with her finger.” It was kind of a sneaky thing for her to do. Yet, when you look closer at her story, you understand why she may not have wanted to be direct with Jesus. Sick for twelve years, taken advantage of by each doctor… Not only was she harmed by those who should’ve helped her, as the years wore on, hope itself became an avenue of pain. What was it like to get her hopes up, each time, only to walk away, still bleeding and exploited as well?
After she touched Jesus, He immediately stopped. Moving person to person he asked, “Who touched me?” Finally, trembling, she stepped forward and owned up to her action. I picture her braced for public humiliation and heart-cutting disappointment. But that didn’t happen. Instead, Jesus said, “You did a really brave thing…You hoped, you believed, and you reached out.” Jesus’ reply gives us an idea about what people are really depending on us for. When we say, “I will be there for you,” what we’re really saying is, “I will take the time to look behind obvious actions. I will not hold your offenses against you. I will not quibble over the way you come to me. But I will look into your heart and go to difficult places with you. I won’t take advantage when you are vulnerable and open to me. But rather I will hold your pain and your story with such tenderness and such care that you come to believe you are safe with me.” Which is what Jesus did with this woman.
If he had followed the way it is “supposed to be done,” he would have attributed the outflow of energy to an insanely large crowd all bumping into him and each other. He wouldn’t have singled her out and put her in distress wondering if she was about to get into trouble. He would have been expedient and kept it moving to get down the road on time. But everything begins and ends in that one word: relationship. And he wanted to be more than a rescue for her. So he stepped out of the norm. He looked a little crazy trying to find the one person who touched him. He showed us that sometimes we need to go against the rules, step outside the box and not just accept but applaud the things when someone else might say, “You didn’t do that the right way so therefore it is null and void.” And in doing those things, he showed her exactly what she could depend on him for. He would see her. He would know her. He would love her.
I think we must ask ourselves what kind of dependability we are cultivating in our hearts. Is it the kind that merely gets the job done? Or is it something a bit larger and more generous than that?
On whom do you depend in your world? How have you experienced their strength and sight on your behalf? What does it uncover in your heart? It might be a good thing to talk with Jesus about that.